Sunday, November 17, 2013

Geneva, Switzerland

It was a lovely four-hour drive from Colmar to Geneva, and we were able to get our first glimpse at the magnificent Swiss Alps and green rolling hillsides along the way.  We could not have timed our visit any better to enjoy the vibrant fall colors that surrounded us on every side!  The contrast between the lush green grass and the yellow, orange and red autumn leaves was striking.  Switzerland is really a beautiful country, and I found myself longing to live there.  (Of course, I might feel differently come winter!)  What a wonderful reunion we had at our friends' beautiful home in the countryside!  Jane, Steve and Peter all look fabulous (isn't Peter a good looking young man? . . . And such a gentleman!) and our time with them was such a treat!  Emily was away on a school sailing adventure so we missed seeing her.  We walked to the nearby train station to take a 10-minute ride into Geneva where Steve treated us to a special dinner that night at one of their favorite places.  At Cafe de Paris, there is no menu, as they serve only one thing - mouthwatering steak drenched in a delicious garlic butter sauce and served with crispy-tender thin french fries.  This was obviously one of Peter's favorite meals, and the melt-in-your-mouth steak was equally enjoyed by us "Asians"!  I wish I had taken a photo of us all together, along with a picture of our meal.  Did you expect to see Steve wearing anything less - or maybe I should say anything more?!

Sunday morning was a little rainy, and since we didn't need to be at church until 2:00, Jane took me out for a short drive around Lake Geneva to give me a little feel for the place they call home.  We ended up at Nyon Castle which is located in the old but very quaint part of town where many of the expats live.  Castles dot the landscape and almost every town has a Chateau of it's own.  We also some some Roman ruins along the way.  Unfortunately, Bob's memory of that day is not quite so nice.  Since Jane needed to take Steve to the airport after Sacrament meeting, Bob drove Peter and I to the church.  By the time we arrived it was raining quite hard, so he dropped us off at the front door and drove around back to park.  Unbeknownst to him, there are a couple of bumper height posts marking the entrance to the parking lot, which he could not see in the rain, and yes, he crashed right into one of them.  We were grateful that we had passed the airport just a few miles from the church and were able to drive there following our meetings and exchange the rental car for another.  We are still not sure what the damage entailed, but I'm sure we'll be receiving notification of our liability before long!  "Accidents happen", I said trying to console Bob, and I will never forget his adamant response:  "BUT NOT TO ME!"  That's my invincible knight in shining armor!

Since we only had one day to see all the sights in the area, Bob and I arose early on Monday morning for a jam-packed day of fun with Jane and Peter.  The clouds hung low around the lake and surrounding mountains, creating stunning scenery along our way to Gruyeres where we would visit La Maison du Gruyeres cheese factory, the Castle Gruyeres (and the small medieval town there), and the Cailler chocolate factory.

We stopped at the cheese factory where we took a brief self-guided tour of the process involved in making cheese.  The time needed can take up to a year or more!  A link to a detailed description of the process can be found here.  Because cheese and dairy products in general are hard to come by in Korea, I purchased lots of cheese to take back with me.

Chateau Gruyeres' beginnings are not known, but was inhabited by at least 20 counts between the 11th and 16th centuries.  The crane (in French: "grue") inspired the name Gruyeres.  It sits upon a hill in valley of the Fribourg Alps, and the area is stunningly beautiful.  (I copied that last photo from somewhere online to show what the entire castle looks like.)


Jane suggested we eat lunch at another of Peter's favorite places in Gruyeres.  Instead of a traditional cheese fondue, at this cute little restaurant, they take a brick of Roclette cheese and put in under a kind of broiler device which they bring to your table.  As the cheese slowly melts, you shave off the top and smear it over potatoes, onions, gherkins, breads and meats.  It was a unique experience and a delicious, though very fattening, meal.  As we walked down the hill to our car after lunch, I wanted to take some pictures of the cows which are so prevalent on the hills of Switzerland.  As leaned forward to take the first photo, my body suddenly jumped and kind of collapsed and I had no idea what had happened.  Bob was laughing at me because he had seen what I had not - there was an electric wire surrounding the pasture which gave me quite a shock when I accidentally touched it!

Our stop at the Cailler Chocolate factory was brief since the lines and the tour time meant too much of a wait.  We stocked up on some sinfully rich dark chocolate to bring home as well.

Following our activities in the Gruyeres area, we drove through the beautiful glitzy city of Montreaux on our way to Chateau de Chillon.  This 12th century island castle on Lake Geneva was occupied by the counts of Savoy.  It is Switzerland's most visited historic monument.  Lord Byron, a poet from 1816, wrote a poem about a monk politician who was imprisoned here.  Byron's signature is carved into a column in the very impressive prison chamber in the basement of this castle.  This is a very masculine castle, and Peter's favorite.  (Thank Peter, for making sure we all enjoyed the potty humor!)

 Here's a few last photos of castle doors and windows, landscapes and cow bells:  Vivid memories of beautiful Switzerland that will live on within us forever!


No comments:

Post a Comment