Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Switzerland (part 2)

Our next stop was the Cailler chocolate factory, that I first read about here (her description is really funny).
There were brief glimpses of the actual factory, but the tour was designed to be more of a tutorial on the history and process of chocolate making. There was a great display of vintage chocolate molds. The picture below shows a ginormous one that was probably three feet long.

There was a room that showed a variety of films from the 1940s and 50s about the factory's history that was quite fun - it was definitely better than that one with Lucy and Ethyl. One of them featured a recurring yodel of "Chocolat au lait" that I took up later on, much to the dismay of Davis.
The highlight, of course, was the all-you-can-eat chocolate tasting room. The chocolate was great, but I have to say that it was a challenge to do it justice after having just eaten a cheese-swathed breakfast a few hours before. You'll be glad to know that I did give it my best try, though.
From there we went on to wind our way through the mountains as I called out things like "Look! There's a Heidi-house!" and alternated between my new chocolate-themed yodel and the yodeling song from "The Sound of Music". I'm a lot of fun to travel with.
I'd love to share some pictures of the spectacular mountain vistas, but I'm afraid my photos really didn't do them justice. I can give you this guy though:

A mere 400 mountain passes later we found ourselves in Interlaken where we spent the night. The main street is fairly meh, but if you go just one block off it's really beautiful - charming Heidi-houses surrounded by mountains, plus streams that you can walk along.

I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but the water was a crazy color. All through Switzerland it seemed to have a strange blue-green hue. It was as if a beverage manufacturer set out to make a youth-marketed drink called "Xtreme Freeeeeze", and they chose the chilliest color imaginable.

The only real complaint I have with Switzerland is the price of things. It's reeeeeeaaaaalllly expensive. Hotels and food were 2-3 times what they cost in France. We knew this before we went, but it was still rather painful. It would have been nice to spend more time there, but it would mean having to sell the house upon our return. Oh well, it's hard to complain about moving on to Italy.

Switzerland (part 1)

We're definitely not the "If it's Tuesday we must be in Rome" sort of tourists, but that isn't how it felt this week.
We've been to France a couple of times before, so we pretty much made a beeline to Switzerland. Our first sighting of the alps caused both of us to utter exclaimations of the "holy ____" variety. Actually, it wasn't just the first sighting that warranted it - the saying became pretty common as we drove around. Switzerland is unbelievably beautiful.

We had a brief pause in Lausanne (not big fans) and then wound our way up and over numerous hills to the melodic strains of cowbells and ended up in Gruyeres (below) where we spent the first night.

We stayed at a great hotel and wandered through the very tiny walled village (complete with castle) to find dinner. Once seated, we were each given serious heating devices: I ordered the raclette which is a big slab of cheese that gets put under a heater and you scrape the melty goodness off and slather it on potatoes and/or bread, and eat it with pickles and pickled onions, and Davis had the "mixed grill" which was a platter of various local meats and sausages that get put on a grill. They were both incredible and a perfect compliment to each other. I tried to take a picture of the event, but I think my enthusiasm for the experience caused me to become too spastic to frame properly.

Our hotel fed us an amazing breakfast the next morning involving meats, great breads, meringues with deliciously extra-fat-laden cream, and more cheese. Davis then announced that he didn't want to eat cheese ever again. That's when we went to visit the cheese factory! I'm all about cheese.

It was really interesting, and I took about a gazillion pictures (I'll spare you the others). We were given a history of the production on our listening devices that contained the quote: "The cheese barons made their fortunes. That was a golden age." For some reason I found this hilarious. I think it was both the notion that there was such a thing as a cheese baron, combined with the very dreamy voice saying, "That was a golden age. " I decided right then that when I grow up I'm going to be a cheese baron.
Stay tuned for my post about our visit to the chocolate factory...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

J'aime la France!

We made it! We're sitting outside at a cafe in Langres drinking lambic (not at all French, but so yummy). We seem to have shaken off the jet lag and the weather is great, so no complaints here!
We flew on Icelandair, which was a little bizarre. They only had those distant teeny screens to watch, and the inflight movie was "Tootsie". I'm quite sure that movie came out before some of you were born. It made the film on the second leg of the trip, "Sleepless in Seattle", seem cutting edge in comparison.
We rented a car at Charles De Gaulle (you'll be happy to know we've already made our car stinky with cheese), and headed to Fontainbleu for our first night. . Fontainbleu is a very pretty town, and the chateau is amazing. Then we headed east towards Switzerland.
I forgot to put pictures on the laptop before we headed out, so I'm afraid I have no eye-candy for you. In fact, I have no reason to be writing this post at all except that I was so excited to catch a signal that I hopped onto blogger. I'll try to give you a post that's more worthy of your while soon.

Random note - my blogger page is entirely in French - "modifier le code HTML" , "Moderer les commentaires", etc...
Time to "Publier".

Monday, April 16, 2007

Fly By Night

The trip frenzy is in full swing. Packing and panicking is now being done in earnest. We'll be flying from Boston to Paris on Thursday, and we're sooooo not ready. So why not sit down and write a blog post?
Actually, I have a request for some suggestions:
1) It always takes a little while for one's system to get in synch with the local timetable. This has led to us starving at times when there are no stores or restaurants open. I like to bring snacks for just such emergencies, but I don't know if I can stand eating any more Odwalla or Cliff bars (I think I ate too many during our last vacation). Does anyone have any ideas for packable snacks?
2) We like caffeine first thing in the morning, before getting showered and dressed. The problem is that we won't be staying in establishments that offer such amenities as bedside coffee. In the past, this has led to us staggering, bleary-eyed and cranky, around the streets in search of cafes as we indulge in a spate of caffeine-deprived bickering. That's no way to start the morning, folks! Should I just get some No-Doz and take half a tab in the morning? I tend to be wary of the stuff after getting all hopped up on it once during study hall in high school (of course, part of the problem may have been the quantity I ingested and the fact that I didn't even drink coffee back then). Is there, hopefully, something better?
Your input will be much appreciated.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


Despite being camera-shy, Morris and I want to wish everyone a happy Easter.

Check out the sweet basket Davis gave me. It's filled with chocolates, spools of pastel crochet thread and a girl&bunny figurine.

Friday, April 06, 2007


It might be April, but this is the sight that greeted me when I looked out the window into the driveway yesterday morning. Eeek! Not only had plenty of snow fallen in the usual way, but a big pile of it zoomed off our slate roof and landed right on out doorstep.
I'm not upset though. Why? Because I'm going on vacation! I'm floating two feet above the ground, which helps to keep my feet warm and dry.
We're leaving in two weeks for Italy via France, Switzerland and Germany. I waver between being excited and worried that I'll never get everything I'm supposed to do done. I've been spinning in circles and haven't even been able to focus enough to blog.
I'm afraid posting will probably continue to be on the light side until we leave, but I do plan on writing while on the road. I'll keep you updated.

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