Our Daytrip to French Switzerland

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Flag of Switzerland  , Bern,
Thursday, September 23, 2010


Such a nice way to be greeted at the gas station.  It took a little of the sting out of paying $80 for a tankin our little VW minivan.  Last weekend was the closest I have been to France (other than Quebec, maybe).  It was so interesting to see the German culture genlty give way to the French culture as we drove along.  The architecture, the street signs and the atmosphere gradually became more French, as did the Swiss language. 

It is still shocking to me that there really is no unified language amongst this little country.  And more so, no written version of the spoken Swiss at all.  Here in the northern area all writing is in high German, and therefore everyting that is written has to be mentally translated on the spot.  Really neat.

Anyhow.  Our wonderful neighbors recommended that we make time for a daytrip to Bern -- afterall, you gotta see the capital-- and in planning so, I noticed that we were going to be drivably close to Gruyere', and convinced the family that indeed we could in one day see Einstein's House, the Parliament Building, the bears of Bern, the Chocolate Tour, the Cheese Tour, and the Gruyere. Castle. 

I know it sounds insane, but it really did work out just perfectly!  Each of the sights took no more than an hour, and the drive in between gave just the right amount of time for Alexander's afternoon nap. 

Bern was beautiful! We arrived at 11 and made it back to the car by about 1 for a picnic lunch.   I had the girls research many of the things we would be seeing, and it created some anticipation for our trip.  They can tell you why there is a Bear Garden (used to be Bear Pit) in the middle of the city, why Einstein is weird, and that an Astonomical Clock makes it really hard to tell what time it is.  The city feels very grand, but also very walkable.  We wandered through a farmer's market, and stumbled upon an amazing old church, that just happened to be holding a choir practice when we walked in.  It gave me goosebumps -- and gave Alexander the heebyjeebies, he is not a fan of loud singing.

After we lunched in the car, just over the bridge, we continued on to everyone's main attraction of the day -- the chocolate tour.  Surprisingly, they are hard to comeby in Switzerland, and so, we wanted to be sure we would not miss out.  Turns out our timing was great; as we left there were loads of tourists coming in.  After spending only $20 on the tour but twice that on edible souvineers, we went through the history of chocolate, and a small area about the chocolate making process.  At the end, there was a dish of samples that were freshly made and packaged.  i had been told that it was an all you can sample buffet at the end of the tour, so the kids and I stuffed our pockets as Brian went on ahead.  As I turned the corner to find him, I was greeted into the Tasting Room.  25+ different Callier Chocolates (not a peanut to be found!!!) lined up on big gold platters begging you to taste at your hearts content.  We ate so much we couldn't take it.  Serena was caught drinking from the sink in the bathroom because the line at the cafe was too long for water!  It was amazing, and something we may just need to repeat when visitors come!

By the time we made it to the cheese tour (around 4pm) the factory was done processing for the day.  We paid for the tour (guided by a talking cow voice?!?) and samples anyhow and were thankful to not have to endure the smell of the yummy gruyere cheese.  Alexander and Serena would not try it, but Kayley preferred the most aged sample, as we all did.  We contemplated eating a fondue there, but were told that the town of Gruyere and its charming castle closed at 6, and we wanted a chance to see that.  The plan was to get some picture from the outside, we were tired, it was high, and they were only open for another hour.  The girls convinced us to go in and take the self guided tour.  We all enjoyed it more than we thought we would.  Especially Alexander who searched high and low for the princess who should live there. 

By 6:30 we were anxious to head home, and our bellies were still rather full from cheese and chocolate.  Yes, I fed my kids cheese and chocolate for dinner -- gotta problem with that??  ;)

This has been our most memorable day yet, but next weekend will take us to the castle that inspired Cinderella's Disney Castle, and Oktoberfest.  I have limited time to locate lederhosen-- ahh!!

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Wendy on

Oh Angie,
I'm so glad you guys are having fun. I'm jealous of your adventure. It all looks wonderful and I'm glad things are starting to settle in.

Aunt Dee on

It must be cold there or just chilly? I'm loving every one of these blogs, so keep them coming. I feel like I'm taking the journey with you. Love you, Aunt Dee

pano.mamalou on

What beautiful scenery and places to see. It's lke a fairytale that you are really there. Glad to hear you are all enjoying it and getting around to see so much. Yum, chocolate. Can't wait to taste it and see it when I get there soon! Love, Mom

John on

I enjoyed hearing about your day..... Glad you and the family are having a good time!

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