Bex (with a little Aigle and Montreux) - Exploring the salt mines

We usually go for a hike on the 1st of August - the Swiss national day. But with the rain it wasn't so tempting...
Since we had alreay driven down to Montreux on Friday night, we needed an alternative program and found the perfect one in the old salt mines of Bex, just a half hour drive away.

Actually, we left really early and had enough time to take the scenic route, with a little stop in Aigle, where we discovered this great castle:

We must definitely come back and check it out a little longer!
The countryside around it with its wineyards also looks like a great place for a hike.

Pretty old Aigle

But we had to leave and head over to Bex. The salt mines there were already established in the 18th century and the people had been digging so far into the mountain that part of the tour had to be done with little trains. Here is one coming out.
Misty mountains...
Walking in!
Everything must be documented
In one of the big halls inside they showed a short film about the history of the mines. And here's a model showing the system of tunnels which go on for many kilometers.
Old ways of working in the mines. Not only drilling and transporting stones but also pipes for fresh air.

Walking on
Boarding our first train. We got the seats in the very back so we could see more than just the walls to the sides.
Not that there was much to see... We drove for nearly 10 minutes! A distance of 1,5 kilometers
Several levels of caves
Big machines
You have to keep in mind that all of this is man made - carved out of solid rock! It took them many years, and a lot of it was done just with a hammer and a chisel!
Which a constant temperature of 17 degrees, this is also a good place for a wine cellar :-)

Statue of Saint Barbara, the protector of miners and tunnel builders
Salt crystals on the ceiling
Drilling for salt - sometimes many hundreds of meters. Most of the material is just rock, but there are layers with salt, letting light shine through.
Going down another level
The green room up there is actually an event center / meeting room. Also notice the long thin salt stalagmites.
From the old miners' daily life
Wooden pipes for water and air
Another big hall (sorry, it was kind of dark) - where people had searched for salt.

After nearly 2 hours, our train back to the outside world - this time in the front row.
This is a great excursion - but certainly not for people with claustrophobia! The tunnels were often only just wide enough for the train to pass through.
The famous light at the end of the tunnel!

It's worth noting that we only visited a fraction of the historical part of the mines.
Actually, salt is still mined there today, they bring out 150 tonnes every day!

Back on the island - the rain had stopped. And there was a hint of one of those great Lake Geneva sunsets...
After dinner we went out into the garden to see the 20 minutes fireworks in front of Montreux.

The house was lit from all sides for the occasion and looked great.
On Sunday morning I was out early to enjoy a peaceful breakfast on the terrace by the lake. But no such luck - some water birds were swimming around, beeping very loudly. Especially a mother with 3 young ones...
We spent most of the day lounging around, reading or enjoying the view, with an occasional dip in the lake.
Saying good bye on Sunday evening - but not for long!