Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Making the most of our last weekends in not-so-flatland

Last weekend was our second last one here in Switzerland!!!! Yes, that does make me happy!!!! I have been really homesick for Holland these past 2 months and it's not been easy. It doesn't mean we can't enjoy ourselves though so we have been making the most of our time here though and crossing a few things off our to-see list. On Saturday, we kicked off the weekend with a nice mountain drive over to Grindelwald, a ski village in the Bernese Oberland. We took a beautiful mountain pass for part of the trip and I have to say, the mountains there were truly spectacular. Even after seeing the view out the window here every day, these mountains were impressive.

Finally we arrived at Grindelwald just in time for a wander around the shops (there was a yummy chocolatier in particular!) and some lunch before heading back to Martigny.

On Sunday we headed to the little village of Gruyeres. It's obviously known for it's cheese and our main purpose in going there was to visit a cheese factory & chocolate factory but the town itself was surprising - by far the nicest one we've seen this trip. Perched on a hill, it was tiny with lots of old buildings, a chateau and plenty of restaurants serving the local specialty - meringues with Gruyere cream.... Yummmmm......

After wandering the streets of this cute little town, we headed back down the hill to La Maison du Gruyere - the cheese factory. I must admit, it was a little disappointing. We were given a sample pack of 3 pieces of cheese with our entry ticket but there was no tasting room and you didn't even get to walk through the factory - just had to watch from above (not that anything was happening) and listen to the annoying voice of 'Cherry the cow' on the audioguide.

The disappointing cheese factory was well and truly made up for however at Maison Cailler - the chocolate factory. It well and truly exceeded my expectations! We turned up just in time for the English 'tour' which basically felt like something at a theme park. We started off in an elevator that smelt of chocolate and then spent 20mins walking through a series of rooms which explained the history of chocolate with mannekins and lights and sound etc. It was actually really well done! Finally, we hit the cocoa bean room and then got to see the chocolates being made before hitting the tasting room. The only thing that tainted the experience was the extremely cranky & rude Swiss staff member in the tasting room. I think that had the staff been dressed as Oompa Loompas, she might have felt less cranky. I mean, who could be cranky when pretending to be an Oompa Loompa! I did feel a bit like Charlie Bucket wandering around the chocolate factory and it was definitely worth the visit... Although I felt rather ill for hours afterwards - both Stroopy and I had a major sugar overload!!!!!!!

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