Day 154: Sunday, 2/8/2015
I was very excited for today, as we were taking a bit of a road trip throughout Switzerland! The first stop on our trip was Gruyere, home of the Gruyere cheese factory and the Cailler chocolate factory! The factory was about a 2 hour drive away from Deborah’s home, so we listened to music while taking in the beautiful scenery! Everything had a thin blanket of snow and was absolutely picturesque, even though my pictures can’t nearly do it justice. When we arrived at Cailler, there was snow all around and I marveled in awe.
Oh, and it was sunny out for the first time since we got here. Yay! We walked a few freezing minutes over to the factory, ready to begin our chocolate adventure! Deborah hadn’t been there in 4 years, so she was excited as well.
We walked in and paid for our tour entrance. There were 5 other people on our tour, 4 adults and one couple’s child. One of the men was extremely impatient and kept asking if he could just be included on the French guided tour and that he’d translate every word for his English-speaking friends. Good plan, dude. Why don’t you just wait 7 more minutes? Sometimes I don’t understand people.
Once we began the tour, we were guided through the history of chocolate and the Cailler name by an unknown voice-over man and some outdated displays. It was actually pretty funny. Deborah and I laughed multiple times throughout the experience. When we finally finished the guided part, we were lead into a room where we saw some chocolate being made! And we got to taste it straight off of the conveyor belt. Very awesome! I also made a friend (see above photo). Next we were directed to the actual tasting room, where dozens of different chocolates were lined up and ready for us to taste!
My chocoholic heart swooned at the sight, but I limited myself to just a handful. My favorite that I tried was the one on the left of the picture on the left. It had caramel inside.
After the tour, I bought a few souvenir chocolates and bundled back up. And good thing I did: IT WAS SNOWING! That’s right, snowing! Now I know this doesn’t seem like a big deal to most of you, but as a born-and-raised Angeleno, I have not seen it snow very many times in my life, and it was exciting, okay?? Let me have my moment. Deborah took a photo of me for the road.
The next stop on our journey was to the La Maison du Gruyere, or the Gruyere cheese factory. Chocolate and cheese: two of my favorite foods in the world. Kind of a shame I wasn’t born in Switzerland… We saw some more beautiful landscapes, now covered by fresh snow, and made our way to the cheese factory!
We walked inside and paid another entrance fee. With it, we received personal audio guides and a container of 3 differently aged gruyere cheeses. I ate them very quickly.
The audio was guided by a cow named Cherry. Oh yes, it was a lovely British woman who pretended to be a cow named Cherry. It was very interesting. The exhibit itself was interesting. We saw a worker making sure the cheese was being mixed properly:
And wheels of Gruyere aging:
Among many other things. I also made another friend (see below).
We tasted a few cheeses in the shop, which were divine! I sadly realized that buying cheese would not have been the smartest idea, since I will be moving around a lot for the next 3 weeks. I didn’t think it would travel well, so I took a couple extra samples and we were on our way.
The next stop was the old town of Gruyere. We parked the car and walked up to see yet another amazing view of the Swiss countryside blanketed in snow!
It was chilly, and we had a bit of a walk, so I fully bundled up. I later ended up taking my hat off as my head was sweaty from the combination of walking quickly uphill and wearing lots of layers. Only I could manage to sweat when it was 25 degrees outside
Now when we entered the old town, I was so happy. It was such a cute little town, and I proceeded to call it Hogsmeade. Harry Potter fans like myself can probably figure out why I chose to call it that.
We then walked up to the top of the town, where there was a castle. We didn’t go inside, as we both figured we’d done enough touring for the day, and Deborah said it wasn’t very noteworthy. What WAS noteworthy was the view from the castle. Wow. Just wow.
It looked like a fairytale had come to life! Absolutely breathtaking! I wish I could show you my actual memories of the view, because these photos seriously don’t come close to capturing the beauty.
We walked through the old city one more time before heading back to the car to our next destination: Montreaux. Deborah described it as the Swiss equivalent of the French Riviera. It bordered Lake Geneva with fancy hotels and views across the water. It was so nice to see the lake on a sunny day!
Don’t let the sun fool you, though. It was still absolutely freezing. But nonetheless, Montreaux was a lovely stop on our wonderful exploratory day.
Our last stop of the day was Lausanne, where Deborah had attended university. We drove through the campus, and walked around inside. It was very nice, and I know Deborah appreciated the nostalgia. We then went into the old city of Lausanne for lunch at a Swiss burger chain restaurant with a cute name:
I had a chicken breast with some yummy fixings. They also had what they called “syrup,” which is basically flavored water. It was really delicious and I couldn’t really figure out why. After we gobbled down our burgers, we headed over to Deborah’s friend Susanna’s apartment. She was so sweet and friendly. We all talked for well over an hour, half in French and half in English. Then we headed to the other side of the city to say hi to another friend of Deborah’s, Arthur. He was a soft-spoken guy, but also very friendly and nice to speak with. We stayed for a little bit before we drove back to Geneva. Deborah told me that in the past 2 days, I had basically met all of her friends.
After a very long day of touring Switzerland, we arrived back at Deborah’s house, where I met another sister of hers, Laura, who returned from a weekend in London. She was very sweet and spoke English pretty well. after eating dinner, I did my laundry and took a shower, readying myself for what tomorrow has in store: DISNEYLAND!!!
Can’t wait to keep you all updated on my days in Paris, Disney and not. Stay tuned!
-Girl in Switzerland 🙂