Switzerland Part V

Sorry for the long delay in my travel emails. Our trip got so busy I didn't have time to finish while I was there and I lost my momentum. Procrastination then set it. Feeling sleepy.......

Okay, back to our story. Instead of breaking this into seperate days, I'm just going to do the last three in succession, so this might be a long one. I'm going to devote a separate email to our return home. Normally I would skip this, but it was such an interesting (that may be a poor choice of words as you'll find out) experience that it is worth the telling. So, we begin with Wednesday.

(By the way, since I am now at home, there is really no excuse for missed punctuation or grammar. I'm using a solid American keyboard.)


Two main goals for today: visiting the medieval village of Gruyeres (heart of cheese country) and the ancient fortress Castle Chillon.

Gruyeres has two things going for it, besides being in Switzerland: La Maison Du Gruyere (The House of Gruyere) and Chateau de Gruyeres.

First to the House, which is a museum to cheese making along with a restaurant. Very cool place to visit. If you enjoy eating cheese (and who doesn't , except for those poor bastards who are lactose intolerant) you can take a tour of what Swiss cheese making is all about, in particular Gruyere cheese. You follow a path through the dairy listening to a narration by a cow named Cherry (no idea where the name comes from). You learn about the history of raising the ever important bovines from whence the milk comes. Farmers deliver milk to the museum twice a day. The purpose of the beginning of the tour is to allow all of your senses a chance to experience the alpine life of the cow. This is all true and much appreciated with one exception. Tall steel cylinders contain certain plants that the cows consume. You can lift the caps to get a sniff and enjoy the fragrant aromas. Here is how the brochure describes it:

Smell- is represented by typical aromas, such as the flora of the high pastures and the hay. These are deeply suggestive odours that penetrate deep into the subconsciousness.

Here is how I would describe it:

Smell- over inhale noxious weed deep into your nasal passages, initiating seizures and anaphalactic shock, followed by mercifully swift descent into unconsciousness. Be slapped awake by embarrased wife while foreign tourists give you wide berth and anxious glances.

Back to the tour. You come to an overlook, overlooking naturally, an area that contains four 4800-liter vats that swirl and heat the cheese forming curds. You end up with 75 pound rounds which are then transported to the cellar to age. Their cellar can hold around 7000 rounds which is quite impressive. Afterwards, we tasted some samples and had lunch in their restaurant. All in all, a good time.

Up the hill from the fromagerie is Chateau de Gruyeres, built in the 11th century. The whole compound has been maintained and is now a collection of cafes and tourist shops leading up to the castle proper which allows tours. Very quaint and charming. One feature that seemed very out of place and very surprising was a museum and bar devoted to H.R. Giger. For those of you who are unfamiliar, he is the artist who designed the alien for the movie Alien. The bar is dark with seats shaped like thrones of bones. If you remember any of the scenes of the alien ship or anatomy, that was the make up of this bar. We didn't bother with the museum.

That night Beth's mom, Pat, was nice enough to take the entire Sonney family to a fabulous dinner in Fribourg. I won't bog you down in details, but I had a filet in a mushroom cream sauce that could melt in your mouth. Dessert was a round pience of chocolate cake with melted fudge in the middle. Surrounding it was kiwi and mango sorbet with pieces of pomogranate (sp?). Unbelievable.

Okay, I lied. I'll write a seperate email for Thursday's ski trip in the Alps, or How Cameron Learned he Skiis Like a Girl.

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