Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Say "cheese"!

Last week, my sister was in town, and we decided it was time to venture out of Lausanne to see what else Switzerland has to offer (a lot, I know).  We began asking around for suggestions of good day trips, and multiple people recommended Gruyeres.  I assumed the town would have something to do with the delicious cheese we used to splurge on every now and then back in DC when we made fondue, but didn’t know much else about it.  Then a friend mentioned something about chocolate there, too, so it was settled. 

At 10:20am on Saturday, we hopped on the train to Montreux, to change at Montbovon and ultimately arrive at Gruyeres.  The total travel time was 1.5 hours, and the train ride itself was worth the trip.  We got to ride one of the Golden Pass trains with panoramic windows, so we had views of the lakefront in Montreux, then the Alps, and then the charming Swiss countryside.  Literary tidbit – the train passes through Les Avants, which Hemingway gives a nod to in “A Moveable Feast”. 

When we arrived in Gruyeres, we weren’t exactly sure where we were supposed to go.  I’d read that there were lots of restaurants, but we didn’t see much.  We headed for a local-ish looking restaurant a block up from the train station.  It was good, but it turns out we weren’t really in the heart of Gruyeres yet.

After lunch, we realized that we needed to hop on a quick bus ride to get to the “real” Gruyeres.  We could have walked, but it was uphill… a really big hill.  As soon as we got off of the bus we saw why so many people had recommended Gruyeres.  It looked like something straight out of a storybook, complete with a fountain in the town square!

We made our way up to the Castle, which we ultimately decided not to do, because it was unclear whether or not it was stroller-friendly.  We will definitely find a way to do it next time we visit!  We continued on with a little more window shopping, and eventually stopped in one of the chocolate shops to warm up with some hot chocolate and a chocolate-filled crepe. 

About 2 hours later, we decided to head back down towards the Gruyere museum, located directly across from the train station.  The museum only took about 30 minutes to visit, though it was worthwhile.  Apparently the secret to Gruyere cheese is all in the grass! 

Once we finished the museum, we headed back to the train station to catch our 16:58 train.  We got on the train that arrived at 16:58, but then saw that another train was arriving and wondered if that was the train we were supposed to be on.  We jumped up, started grabbing the stroller, coats, and all of the heaps of stuff required when traveling with a baby, and were about to get off of the train... when it started moving… in the opposite direction of the way we needed to be going.

Thanks to iPhones and the internet, we figured out that we could get off in a few stops and change trains to make it back to Lausanne.  Marshmallow had a meeting he had to be back for, so there was a bit of urgency in all this.  Due to some conflicting information about which platform we needed to be on, we almost missed that train.  Basically, we had to run like crazy people up and down some stairs and at some point I was wearing the stroller frame like a messenger bag.  We looked odd, especially to the ever-composed Swiss.

But in the end, we made it home just in time, after a great day trip!

I would highly recommend a visit to Gruyeres, and if you go, here are my tips:
  •          Wait to eat in the village.
  •           Do the walk from the castle down to the church.
  •           Print your return train itinerary.  

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