About Me

I am a 45 year husband and dad, currently adjusting to life back in the United States after living in Italy for a little over two years. I love spending time with my family, cycling, model railroading, mosaics and watching TV and movies.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Say "Cheese"

Today was all about cheese. After getting ready for the day, we walked down the street to grab some croissants for the drive to the cheese factory in Gruyere.

Gruyere is about an hour east of Lausanne. We were visiting the Gruyere Cheese Factory. On our drive there it started pouring down rain.

We paid our entry fee, grabbed our cheese sample packets and audio guides and walked through some pretty interesting displays as Cherry the cow (named because she was born in the cherry season) gave us a tour of the factory.

Cheese gets pumped into these cylinders for pressing

Brandon listens to the audio guide

After the tour we headed downstairs to the cellar to see where the cheese is aged. We also opened on of our sample packages and tried some of the cheese. The sample package included the same cheese, but with different ages - 6 months, 8 months and 10months. We mostly agreed that the 8 month cheese tasted the best.

This automated machine flips and rotates the cheese

We decided to have lunch in the restaurant. Katrina and I share some Gruyere fondue. Brandon had his regular bowl of pasta.

Pasta, of course

The rain had let up a bit when we left the factory, so we headed up the mountain a few kilometers to Moleson. According to the guidebook, there was supposed a 2:30 demonstration at Ye Olde Cheesemaker. When we arrive the sign said only at 10am. Oh well. Ye Olde Cheesemaker is where they still make cheese the old fashioned way, over an open fire.

Ye Olde Cheesemaker

We did find an alpine slide in Moleson, so of course, we had to ride it. Katrina decided to pass. Brandon and I went for a ride. This is the nicest slide we have seen. It looked fairly new. At this one the carts ride on two rails instead of one...or none. It felt a lot like riding a roller coaster. The track had some wild curves and drops. Brandon and I thought it was great. I don't think I used the brakes one time on the whole ride. We were pretty excited and thought Katrina would really like it. She gave it a try. Brandon also rode one more time. I took pictures. At the end, she thought it was too smooth and too 'safe'. Not enough thrill.

The track did several spirals down the mountain

We headed back down the mountain and up to the town of Gruyeres. This old village sits on a hilltop with its castle (chateau). We wandered around town. I guess I felt like shopping because I popped into many of the shops along the way.

Aliens in Gruyere. The H.R. Giger Museum is dedicated to the Swiss artist who designed the monsters in the Alien movies

The bar next door is inspired by the Aliens

Brandon led us on a tour around the castle then back into town. Katrina took a lot of pictures here. It's a charming little town. While in town we braved a few random showers, but stayed mostly dry. As we headed out of town, I stopped in a shop to buy some merengue. When we came out is was pouring rain. Absolutely pouring. Tourists were running for cover. We tried to wait it out, but it just kept pouring. We finally gave up and walked/ran down the hillside trail to the parking below. We were soaked when we reached the car. Brandon and Katrina were a little less wet because they had the umbrella, but Katrina's shoes were soaked through.

Brandon plays photographer assistant and holds the umbrella for Katrina

Brandon and I tried some merengue. We didn't like it. Too much egg taste. The locals eat them with sweet cream.

Waiting out the rainstorm

On our way back to Lausanne we stopped in Bulle to check out the Musee Gruerien. Its a small folk museum located in the lower level of the town library. It's focus is on the history of the town and region. We found many interesting things to see, along with a temporary photography exhibit that Katrina really enjoyed.

Traditional wedding dress

Back to Lausanne. Once again, we were tired. Katrina took a nap while Brandon played and watched TV. I went downstairs to the bar to have a beer and use the free Wifi connection.

Later in the evening Brandon and I headed out in search of Chinese takeout for dinner. The first place we found was very expensive, even by Swiss standards. I think it started at 35 francs a plate.

We continued on into the old town and found another one with takeout that was a little easier on the wallet. Dinner consisted on the floor of the hotel room while we watched BBC and CNN - the only stations in English.

Tomorrow we will explore Lausanne.

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