Land of Snow and Cheese

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December 18th 2011
Published: May 10th 2012
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Switzerland road trip

You better enjoy it!You better enjoy it!You better enjoy it!

At 23 CHF for 2 pots of tea and 2 cakes!
Ashley got arm water on the plane, ewwww (an after reading this entry a few months later, we're not really sure what this means).

When we landed in Geneva we took the free train downtown which only took 6 minutes!!! We decided to leave our bags at the train station and wander around the city. We found a bridge that was built through the water so the water was actually higher than our feet. After strolling through the old city center we stopped for tea and cake (23 CHF!!!!) at the Laughing Teapot. The cafe was cute and quaint; a must-do for tea and cake lovers everyewhere. When we tired of walking around the city we planned our route to the hotel. Ashley found the hotel through Hostel Bookers and it was close to the airport, which is where we were meeting her dad the next morning. We started walking around 5; we walked through the dark and rain and crossed the French border and finally found the hotel (just minutes away from the airport) in Ferney-Voltaire 2 hours later.

The next morning we walked to the airport to meet Ashley's dad and pick up the rental car. That
Chateau ChillonChateau ChillonChateau Chillon

Nice little castle in Montreux. Was never taken in battle but defenders walked away a couple times.
day we drove into Geneva Jet d'Eau, which wasn't running. So, we headed out of the city and toward Vevey where we had a room for the night. We stopped in Lausanne to go to the Olympics museum. We learned about the history of the games and saw loads of Olympics paraphenalia, like all the torches, sporting equipment and medals. It was cool to see how everything has evolved in a hundred years to be more modern and efficient in the case of the equipment. That night we took the bus (free with a Montreux Riviera card) downtown, got a little lost, took pictures with Charlie Chaplin and a giant fork and found a really tasty Italian restuarant. It looked like it may have been a chain but it still had a nice ambience and the pasta was the freshest we've ever had (there are a surprising number of Italian restaurants all over Switzerland, must be the geography).

Sunday morning we hit up the games museum for Dans benefit. It focused on a few games like Chess and Tigers & Goats and how they showed up in history and moved between cultures It also had a few games that
Gearing up for battleGearing up for battleGearing up for battle

Dan loves to play around with the interactive exhibits.
weren't well known; one of the most memorable was a very basic game of Life. You'd roll a six sided die and depending on the result you'd progress or not. There would be things like illness, you could get better, go to hospital, or die. Depending on how likely the games creator thought an outcome was it would have a better chance to happen. The end result was dying at 100 a years old if you didn't die before that. The game was split into stages based on ages, education being a greater factor in the first few stages and then physical and mental health taking a greater role further along. Rather a morbid game in the end, but interesting to see non-the-less. After that we went on to Chateau Chillon where they had a medieval market going on. There were only a few stalls; a poetry spinner, a blacksmith, a manual lathe worker, and a basket weaver. It was a very well maintained castle as well, with access to what seemed to be almost all the areas. From Chillon we hit the road again and headed off to Saas-Fee (Sass Fey) where we would do 3 days of skiing.
Maybe just step back a littleMaybe just step back a littleMaybe just step back a little

Nothing like a good archery competition to liven up your day. Safety standard just aren't the same in Switzerland!
We arrived in the evening so we couldn't see much, but we parked at the town parkade since it is another green town and only electric cars are allowed in the town site, like Zermatt. Ashley's dad had been checking weather for the week leading up to our ski days and it was beautiful sunny days; he knew it wouldn't be great weather for us, unfortunately he wasn't wrong. There was drastically low visibility every day, but the snow was also fresh, soft and powdery so it really didn't matter how rough it was. Every day started with the hotel breakfast and then heading out to the slope. We'd squeeze in a run or two (they were long, slow runs going through knee deep snow), then headed into the chalet to warm up and perhaps have a bite to eat. It was amazing that food was not any more expensive on the ski hill than it was anywhere else in Switzerland; of course this just means that all food in Switzerland is priced like you're on the ski hill, not the other way around. Still, it was amazing food; fresh pasta, fresh pizzas, large chunks of desserts. Around 2 or
Look, skiing!!!Look, skiing!!!Look, skiing!!!

The first morning shot. It went all down hill from there.
3 we would head back into town (the last lifts were at 1515 hrs and you had to take the cable-car down.

There were a few variations of runs for us. The first day we couldn't go to the very top of the hill since the Metro-Alpin funicular wasn't operating, so we went to the top of the Felskinn cablecar and rode down to the Morinia chairlift and did the Morinia chairlift a couple times. That day we went right to closing time and the cable car down was packed. The second day we decided to try the Merto-Alpin again and to our joy it was open. We went as high as we could, but then the T-Bars to the very top of the mountain weren't running. We had a blast in the fresh pow. We went up again and finished after we reached the Morinia restaurant the second time. That was the day we fully embraced the conditions and just went wild. On our third day, the Metro-Alpin was closed again, but our first run took us to the top of the Felskinn were it looked like a small avalanche had taken out part of the first run.

From the hill.
We made it back down to Morinia and wanted to head up the Felskinn again, but they had closed the top section and the cable car wasn't going up. We did another run up the Morinia lift and then called it a day. It was a lot of work to ride in such thin air, probably more so for Ashley and Dan coming from Edinburgh sea level than it was for Ashley's dad and treading through the snow was tiresome. But we ended each day with a hearty dinner of cheese, cheese and more cheese. We had to try the fondue, just to have another typical Swiss experience. They had so many variations based on each region of the country; some had tomatoes, others had herbs and spices, and another had onions (which was like French onion soup but without the broth). It inspired us to try doing more types of fondue when we get home.

We were finally able to see the mountains the day we left and the glaciers we had been skiing beside. It cleared up to a beautifully sunny day, so we felt a little short changed. It did bode well for a James Bond

Had to take a funicular THROUGH the mountain to get to the very tippy top. Never had to do that before.
lunch at the revolving restaurant at Schilthorn, Piz Gloria. We headed out and went down crazy mountain roads just to climb again and take the car-train through a mountain. I was a little disconcerting but it was probably better than having to drive so far through a tunnel and you could nap no problem.

The weather at Schilthorn just kept getting better and better. We arrived at the bottom of the cable cars and really couldn't tell where they went due to the giant cliff face. It took 4 cable cars and 30 minutes to reach the very top. The first car got us just on top of the cliff, the second got us a little higher but mostly went along the cliff top. The one that really climbed was the third one; it was the first with 2 cars on opposite lines. There were a few times we came very close to the hill side. Once we got to the top we had amazing, clear 360 degree views of the Swiss Alps and Interlaken. There were ski runs all the way down, even one called "Inferno" from the top to the bottom that is a race to drop from 3000m to a town below the cliffs. The faster times were around 45 minutes. After those breathtaking views off we were to Gruyères for two nights for a chocolate making course, truffles to be exact, at Maison Cailler. Once we found our hotel, the proprietors were kind enough to give us dinner in the form of more cheesey goodness on toast.

The truffle making course was a blast and perfect for Ashley and her dad. It inspired Ashley to be more creative in her baking when we get home. Ashley put dark rum, sugar and vanilla in her truffles and Dan put black pepper and port in his. Ashley's was a good, delicious, classic combination. Dan's was a bit more adventurous but the flavours really went together and they turned out great. Ashley's dad put ... in his truffles and they tasted like Christmas (fitting considering Christmas was only a couple weeks away). After making our truffles, we toured the chocolate museum and found a chocolate tasting room. All I can say is Whoah! We were so full of truffles already but we couldn't help ourselves; we just had to sample some of these delicious gems. The chocolate
Takin' a breakTakin' a breakTakin' a break

All those body pump classes helped our legs but we still needed to relax once in a while (because of the altitude).
tasting room was so much more than we expected; we thought there may be 5 different types the product. I'd say there were at least 20-30 different types to sample. We also took a wander around the museum shop which featured hundreds of chocolately products. We also went to the old city center of Gruyère. It's a typical cute, European hilltown with old world charm. On the way to the castle we walked past the H R Giger Museum which is dedicated to the man who created the visual effects for the film Alien. Seeing sculptures of aliens in the middle of a small, quaint European was just weird. The castle was smaller than I expected but a castle none-the-less. We walked into one room through a massive hearth. I wouldn't have wanted to mistakenly walk through that door on a cold winter day a few hundred years ago! There were amazing views of the valley and the mountains as the sun was setting. Gruyueres is just a pleasant town in the Swiss Alps that offers a great Swiss experience.

The following day we drove back to Geneva and spent the night at the airport hotel. We ate dinner
Fresh pow...Fresh pow...Fresh pow...

Makes for no oww. can you dig it?
at Swiss Chalet (not the North American chain) and taste tested our truffles. Thus ending our Swiss experience.

Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


Enjoying the sceneryEnjoying the scenery
Enjoying the scenery

At the top of Piz Gloria which was used in a Bond film.

View from Piz Gloria
Taller than the moonTaller than the moon
Taller than the moon

Not really, just a nice shot on in Murren.
Truffle makingTruffle making
Truffle making

In the process of tempering my chocolate. Making it shiny so my truffles are beautiful.
Maison CaillerMaison Cailler
Maison Cailler

The Chocolate Shop! Nestle's high end chocolates.
Not made of cheeseNot made of cheese
Not made of cheese

Disappointingly, the town of Gruyere did not live up to it's namesake. A lovely little town. Just easier not to eat.

11th May 2012

Oh yum, that was an amazing adventure. Powder, eh?

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