Sending Away for a Swiss Army Knife

 

There is no doubt; I am still a child at heart.

Shortly after moving to Switzerland, we made a trip to Gruyères to taste cheese and visit the village.  During our cheese tour I came across a promotional offer for Swiss cheeses.

“receive a free cheese knife with four swiss cheese proof of purchase and 20 francs”

It immediately caught my eye because this promotion wasn’t for just any cheese knife.  It was for the ultimate utilitarian cheese knife made by Swiss Army.  Complete with cheese blade, cerated bread blade and, of course, corkscrew bottle opener.  I knew immediately I had to have it.

Given my penchant for cheese, it took no time at all to collect enough proofs of purchase to send away for my knife.  I honestly didn’t know what to expect when dropping the envelope into the mail.  Did I translate the offer correctly? How long would it take?  Would I ever see my Swiss Army cheese knife?

But with the precision of a Swiss watch, my cheese knife arrived in the mail less than two weeks later.  With the eagerness and awe of a small boy I opened my package. I didn’t image that such a treasure could be had so easily!

The box

The anticipation builds

And….cheese knife!

Blades for cheese and bread

Corkscrew for wine

 

Since that time it has gotten lots of use during our time in Geneva…picnics at the lake, road trip snacks, train ride meals with family/friends and, most recently, ski weekend meals in the mountains.

The French Cougar using the knife on the Glacier Express

So don’t forget to ask to see the cheese knife the next time you see me.  I am always happy to show off my new toy.

A Perfect Swiss Day

Hooray!   Isabella and Ferdinand have been here!    They had a wedding to attend in England and we were lucky that they came to Geneva to visit us beforehand.

Ferdinand had to work at the beginning, organizing a golf event.  Once work was done, on the weekend, the four of us set off on a Swiss adventure.

Our first stop was the Lavaux wine region.  Isabella can’t drink currently (she is expecting), but we wanted to show them this UNESCO gem nonetheless.  So, we took the Chexbres exit off of the A1 and descended down the village towns into Rivaz.   They were breathtaken with the gorgeous terraced vineyards as we are every time we visit.

Next stop…..Gruyères.

Ramparts of Gruyères

Walking around the château

Lovely little village

We skipped the cheese tour (we knew we were having raclette for dinner), but all did order Gruyère-cheese based dishes for lunch.

After Gruyères, we drove to Broc, home of Cailler chocolate factory.

Smelling the cocoa beans.

Branche candy bar machine

Ta da! The tasting room!

I just go straight to the good stuff at the end now. I am trained.

Discussing the merits of milk & white chocolate

Weeeeee!

 

 

After playing on the playground a bit, we headed back to Geneva.  We had a big night in store.

The Schwingen & Switzerland crew was hosting a raclette party before the big Fête de Genève fireworks.   Ferdinand and Isabella had raclette their last time in Switzerland, in Zurich, but they were impressed by S’s monstrous spread.

The spread at the S’s

Raclette in action

 

For dessert, S had “Creme de Gruyère” and “Creme Brulée” Movenpick ice cream.  She surprised her dad and me with a candle in each carton for a birthday surprise.  It was the loveliest ‘cake’ I have ever had.  If you have an opportunity, I urge you to try Movenpick ice cream.  Full of Swiss whole cream, its the real deal.

We left their house and were immersed in the madness that is Fête de Genève.  We say it is the absolute busiest, craziest time of year in Geneva.

We luckily found a spot for 12 of us, near the rides, and watched the magnificent hour long fireworks:

The beginning of the fireworks

 

Love this type!

Jet d’eau, in harmony with the show

What a perfect Swiss day!

 

 

Related Links:

The Swiss Watch Blog:   Cheese Wars

The Swiss Watch Blog:   It’s Raining – I guess we have to go to the chocolate factory

The Swiss Watch Blog:  Famous Swiss Foods – Cheese

The Swiss Watch Blog:  Famous Swiss Foods – Chocolate

The Swiss Watch Blog: The land of chocolate and cheese

The Swiss Watch Blog: Thanks for a Joyeux Anniversaire, everyone

The Swiss Watch Blog:   The fête commences

 

 

 

The Little Train That Could….Drink Wine.

We love the Lavaux region.   The wine terraces are magical.   Twin had read my blog before their visit and had really wanted to stop in because of our rave reviews.

There are many options for seeing Lavaux.    If you have a car, you can drive through leisurely.   I do warn you that it is difficult.  S may have accidentally driven on a wine road not meant for cars.   Gabe found it challenging when we drove from Chexbres down to Rivaz with Couch Surfer.

You can also take a train.  I knew of two tasting spots accessible by train.  One is Vinorama nearby the Rivaz stop (bottom of the hill).  It has a lovely tasting room featuring hundreds of Lavaux wines and also a really well-done video which gives you more information about the UNESCO World Heritage Site.   The other is called Le Deck.  We haven’t been there but A & A raved about the magnificent terrace.   You can reach it by car, or by train via Vevey at the Chexbres-Village stop (top of the hill).

You can also hike the region.  The women’s club hosts a magnificent hike every fall during harvest.   I did it and enjoyed it, but it was 5 hours from St. Saphorin to Lutry, which is a little challenging for me.  You can design your own hikes by researching distance and picking a starting and stopping train station.

Lastly, I had recently heard about the Lavaux Express touristic train.   Before E-dawg came, I had listed it as an option since my feet were still recovering and I can’t drive our car, Frau Hilda.   However, we ran out of time.   I had honestly forgotten about it until I read Swiss Wife’s blog and saw her pictures.

So, Twin, Solid and I decided to try it out.   The little train schedule can be found online.   It only goes at certain times and actually on differing days it switches between Lutry and Cully.   Since we did it on a Wednesday, we left from Lutry, which was adorable in itself.

Port at little town of Lutry

Driving through Lutry’s cute streets on the Lavaux Express

Starting our ascent

The terraces are what Lavaux is known for

Rolling vineyards into Lake Geneva

The Swiss Wife had warned us that the daytime trains didn’t serve wine.  There is a 6:30pm weekend one that includes a taste, but we were going during the week.  So, we were prepared so that we wouldn’t be disappointed.

However, surprise, surprise….halfway through, the driver pulled off and their was a little hut with a lady offering tastes for 3 CHF.  So, we decided to partake.

Twin tasting Lavaux Pinot Noir

Solid exploring the vineyards with his glass of wine

The train was 13 CHF for adults.  We considered it a great value in order to get to see the vineyards without a car (and if you aren’t up for hiking super steep terrain).

Related Links:

The Swiss Watch Blog:  Lavaux Wine Tasting

The Swiss Watch Blog:  Gratitude Friday: My French teacher.

Swiss Wife Style:  All Aboard The Lavaux Express

Schwingen In Switzerland:  Stopping at Lavaux

Schwingen In Switzerland:  St. Saphorin

Schwingen In Switzerland:  Lavaux

Natural Beauty in the Bernese Oberland

Bernese Oberland is a region surrounding Switzerland’s capital, Bern.   It is a large region, and in my personal opinion, contains some of Switzerland’s most beautiful landscapes.   Although, I’ll admit, its hard to find parts of Switzerland that aren’t breathtaking.

As we were driving, we pulled over to find this valley.

Approaching Interlacken on the way from Luzern

One of my new favorite Swiss photos.

Loving the beauty of Bernese Oberland

It was a great warm-up view for us as we continued on through Interlacken, and into the Lauterbrunnen Valley to park our car.   From there, we took a little train up to Wengen, where we planned to spend the night at 1400m.

Lauterbrunnen Valley and its waterfall

Wengen, like other car-free towns we stayed in…. Saas-Fee, Zermatt, and Murren, was peaceful without the roar of motors.   A ten minute walk had us at Hotel Edelweiss.   The little chalet was family run and we couldn’t have felt more welcome.  A very pleasant gentleman personally walked us to our rooms to make sure all was okay.

Hotel Edelweiss in Wengen – we’d highly recommend it

After checking in, Mom ran into a lady whose job it was to prepare fresh bouquets for the hotel.   She had gathered Edelweiss as well as some florals from her personal garden to prepare the tables for the evening dinner service and the next day’s breakfast.   It’s all about the personal touch, isn’t it?

View from our balcony at Hotel Edelweiss

While relaxing on our terrace, Gabe & I did some quick research into what to do in Wengen.   We found a few spots that were well recommended and then headed to meet Twin & Solid.

Checking out the view

Our second trip to Bernese Oberland. Last time was in the distant mountain, in Murren.

Twin and Solid on their first Bernese adventure

The first recommendation, Hotel Caprice, didn’t disappoint.  We enjoyed beers and wine with this view in the background:

Drinks on the terrace at Hotel Caprice

After a few rounds, we headed to Hotel Bernerhof for some traditional Bernese fare.  Gabe and I ordered raclette so that they could get a taste.   Twin ordered veal sausage & rosti, another famous mountain dish.  Solid went with spaghetti.   The waiter was super hard working guy, running the entire place single-handedly.   We really enjoyed our meal there.

We are convinced that the folks in Wengen are some of the nicest we’ve met.

Who couldn’t enjoy life with a view like this?

Dusk falls on Jungfrau

Related Posts:

The Swiss Watch Blog:   Gratitude Friday:  Travel  (our adventures in Murren with T)

The Swiss Watch Blog:  Rostigraben

The Swiss Watch Blog:  Famous Swiss Foods – Cheese

The Land of Chocolate and Cheese

Switzerland is known to be the land of chocolate and cheese.  So, when Twin and Solid were in town, we had to partake in both delicacies.

It is possible to do a Chocolate & Cheese train out of Montreux.   However, it runs around 99 CHF a person.  We figured that we’d be driving through the lovely canton of Fribourg (which is home to both stops on the tour) enroute to Luzern, so why not do it ourselves?

We set off from Geneva around 9am.  We made it to Broc, Switzerland in about an hour & a half.  Broc is the home of the Cailler Chocolate Factory.   You may recall we visited this yummy destination with Couch Surfer when it was raining.   However, with my mom being a severe chocoholic, we didn’t need to wait for rain for a visit, it was a #1 priority.

Arrival at Cailler, in the middle of the Alps

I had decided to skip the hour long tour this time, having done it before with Couch Surfer.  Gabe, however, wanted to make sure that Twin and Solid were okay so he volunteered jumped at the chance to do it a second time.

Tasting the cocoa bean

Smelling the hazelnuts

I consider it a good thing he went because he could supervise Twin.  I thought I might get a call from the factory forbidding us to bring guests anymore due to her love of chocolate.  I’m sure she can eat more than her 10 CHF worth that the price of admission costs. They do let you have how much you can consume in the tasting room.

Checking out the Branches being made.

Checking out the selection. I’d advised her to hold out to the end. It’s where the high-end yummy dark chocolates are given out.  They liked the coffee flavored dark ones the best.

Overall they enjoyed Cailler.   They gave it a thumbs up:

If its not gluttony enough to indulge in chocolate, Switzerland keeps its other fabulous agricultural delicacy close-by….Gruyere cheese.   The little hilltop town is just 10 minutes from the Cailler factory.

Doesn’t get much cuter than Gruyeres

The cows welcomed us……

Mooo!!!!!  We make yummy cheese!

How adorable is Gruyeres?

Aww….

Something must be in the air in Gruyeres!

We all decided that maybe we should skip the cheese tour.  After all, we had indulged enough.

Instead, we decided to explore the castle grounds and the ramparts of Gruyeres, known for its defensive position on the hilltop.

Me climbing the ramparts.

Luckily, we didn’t skip tasting Gruyere cheese altogether.    Look at the smile on Solid’s face when he ordered a Croque Madame in nearby Chateau D’Oex a few days later…

A happy man…

We also had a good fill of Swiss cheese in Wengen when we stayed an overnight there.   More to come on that!

Related Links:

The Swiss Watch Blog:   Cheese Wars

The Swiss Watch Blog:   It’s Raining – I guess we have to go to the chocolate factory

The Swiss Watch Blog:  Famous Swiss Foods – Cheese

The Swiss Watch Blog:  Famous Swiss Foods – Chocolate

The Swiss Watch Blog:  Guests:  What to Expect out of a European Hotel

Fondue at Bains des Paquis

I am excited that E-dawg arrived safely to Geneva this past Sunday.   It is great to have her here!

When I woke up to downpours on her arrival day, it didn’t look good.  Rain, rain and more rain.   Two hail storms later, I greeted her at the airport.  However, low and behold……the sun came out during our bus ride home.  Thank you, Geneva!

After her quick shower and unpacking (remember, I don’t let jet lagged people sleep!), we headed out of the house to try to take advantage of the break in the grey skies.

We took the little yellow boat / muette over to the Paquis to go to Bain des Paquis for an early dinner of fondue.  Unfortunately, we arrived at 5pm and they didn’t serve fondue until 6pm.   Fail.  Poor E-Dawg was starving!     We occupied ourselves taking photos and with an appetizer of viande sechée (dried meat) while watching people skip stones and ducks socialize, until it was time.

Bain des Paquis is very different from your traditional Swiss fondue restaurant.   It is located on an island jetting off of The Paquis neighborhood on the right bank.

Image courtesy of Google Maps

Difference # 1 – it is right next to the turkish baths.  You are in sight of people in their towels relaxing in the cooling air.    This could turn people off from eating fondue.  Non-adventerous people that is!!!

Difference # 2 – You order at the counter and then they either give you your order immediately, or they bring it to you.  In the case of fondue, they bring it to you.

Difference # 3 – They serve fondue au crémant – it is made with sparkling wine and is lighter and creamier than other types.  Mmmmm.

Difference # 4- You also have the ability to order as many servings as you want no matter how big your party is.  Why is this important, you ask?   Well, the average US visitor cannot eat their fair share of fondue.  Thus, it makes it more appealing for the stomach and the wallet to share a pot of the cheesy stuff.  Who wants to waste half a vat of cheese and pay overpriced Swiss francs for it?  So,  in the case of E-dawg and I, we shared a portion for one (22 CHF).  And it was perfect.  We even reached the toasty cheese-it bottom that is very elusive.

E-dawg enjoying the creamy treat made with cheese and sparkling wine

Yummy cheese-it bottom!

The view is incredible.  These shots were taken just steps away from where we ate.

View of the Jet d'Eau from Bains des Paquis

Bains des Paquis is also a nice place to relax

Unfortunately, the Bains des Paquis stops serving fondue at the end of April.  So hurry there before the time is up!  Or else, you’ll just have to wait for Fall…..

Related articles:
The Swiss Watch Blog – Famous Swiss Foods:  Cheese
Schwingen in Switzerland – Expat 101 – Lesson 3 – The Best Fondue in Geneva
Saveur – Fondue au Crémant 

Springtime ride on the Glacier Express

Post by Lauren

You may recall from the blog we took the Glacier Express to St. Moritz this winter.   When we took it while Gabe’s family was here, it was equally as beautiful only half covered in snow.

This time, instead of St. Moritz, we headed to winter sports capital, Davos.  We passed through in route to Klosters, which was the choice vacation getaway for Princess Di and family.  You see, I figured I’d class up the selection and provide us the lodging of royalty.  Just kidding, it was the only hotel in the entire region left since it was still ski season.  And I can promise you that they didn’t stay in the Swiss Sport Lodge, although it was fine for our tastes 🙂

You can see a pictorial recap of our journey below:

Starting out in Zermatt and heading to Brig. Not much snow at all this time!  We love watching the wonder on everyone’s faces!

Continuing on through Fiesch, Reckingen, Muster, Fulka and the canton of Ori.
Everyone in awe in Andermatt. It’s my favorite on the ride, too!

Cutting through the Rhine Gorge, passing through Davos and reaching our destination of Klosters.

Enjoying their first Swiss fondue and raclette in Klosters. Since the raclette was Type 2 and served without meat, the group favorite was the mushroom fondue. We were the only ones in the restaurant with an exclusively German-speaking owner.   It was a really awkward fun experience!

We stayed at the Swiss Sport hotel in Klosters. We found Klosters to be small and tranquil – not a place for late night action.  We had to create our own!  The evening was fun of laughter and fun.  Don’t let The French Cougar tell you that is water in her hand – we believe its wine!   Also don’t even ask why Dunkel and Sweet Wine have those amused looks on their faces.  What happens in Klosters stays in Klosters!

A bonus is that The Gladiator and Mama Mia celebrated their wedding anniversary on this stint of the trip.   We are so glad we got to spend it with them!