Friday, January 9, 2015

Switzerland weekend

Way back in November to start off the holiday season, I visited my friend Mary at her new place in Switzerland.  She just moved there in September, so I was one of the first visitors and we had a great time.  I arrived November 14th and we had the weekend to tour around and then I did my own sightseeing early that week before we headed to Poland, came back for Thanksgiving with friends in Switzerland and the next day left for Berlin, the last stop of my European tour in 2014.

It was a great trip and lots of learning involved.  All of the places were new for me and the weather was a little colder than I would have liked, but it was a great trip. Mary is a much better and timelier blogger than I, so you can sneak peak ahead with her posts if you like. :)
Weekend trip to Gruyere, Switzerland
Weekend in Krakow
Weekend in Berlin (part 1)
Weekend in Berlin (part 2)

Today I'll cover Switzerland.  What do you think of when someone says Swiss? If you thought chocolate, cheese, watches, peacekeepers or scientists - I got you covered :).

I arrived around lunchtime Friday after leaving the US Thursday night.  My plan was to stay awake until at least 9pm to try and avoid jet lag issues.  I think Europe being so close is actually harder to deal with jet lag than Asia.  So for the afternoon we walked around Geneva and sampled some chocolate.  Mary took French in high school and has been taking classes in Geneva.  In Geneva, people speak French.  It's not a real tourist city, so while some people speak English it isn't as prevalent and people aren't really excited to try it out with you the tourist.  So I was super thankful for Mary's skills no matter how much she tried to downplay them.  Trying to buy a chocolate or two was an entertaining endeavor :).  We bought four chocolate truffle type items and two macaroons and found a cafe and a drink to try them out.  The chocolate macaroon was the winner, it was like dense chocolate cake and surprisingly I loved it! The winner of the truffles was a cognac ball.  I suggested it on a whim and we both turned out really liking it - not too strong.

Saturday was a bit of a lazy day - met Mary's friends for lunch, did some planning for upcoming trips and for Sunday but we also visited the Patek Philippe museum, which exceeded expectations (unfortunately no cameras allowed).  The amount of gadgets on a watch without electronics is pretty amazing.  I left wanting a watch but not knowing the price tag was the same as a new car.  Oops, no watch :).

Sunday we headed to Gruyere with the lunch friends and had a great time.  We finally (and one of the only times during my whole Europe trip) escaped the clouds and saw the beautiful sun.  We walked up to a castle, had one of the most elegant hot chocolates I've ever had, did the cheese factory tour (audio guide by Cherry the Cow) and topped it off with a tour of the Cailler Chocolate Factory (local company now owned by Nestle) that was far and above the Hershey tour from earlier in 2014.

Our first peek at the sun!

We took the trains around - so convenient!

Mountains everywhere


A lookout from the castle

Now the actual view

So beautiful - perfect day!

In front of the castle

Randomly, Gruyere is also where H. R. Giger lived and where his museum lived on.  You may recognize his work from the movie Alien.  He won an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Visual Effects based on his work in Alien.  

Walking through the little village

My amazing hot chocolate

Cheese factory tour spot

Visual comparison of cow v man consumption :)

One of the cheese mixing vats

And lots and lots of cheese!

One of the many fun/weird items on the chocolate factory tour.

We had a history lesson on chocolate.

And ultimately why Swiss chocolate is the best.

Don't try to steal the recipe!

Best of all, a crazy tasting room - like 10-15 types of chocolates!!
Just needed some milk. :)

The chocolate factory was mirrored outside and we took a group pic.

Back to the gloomy skies of Geneva where
the water fountain (Jet d'Eau) still flows.

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