Loving Lucerne

marketWhat a great few days it’s been. I will catch up on yesterday’s events, which consisted of touring the beautiful city of Murten and hiking through the wine path of one of Switzerland’s smallest vineyards, “Mount Vully” and tasting some of the local wines,  but I was too tired and recovering from my chocolate and cheese binge the day before to write anything last night. Today we took a one and a half hour train ride from Fribourg to Lucerne and arrived around 9:30 when the fruit and vegetable and flea markets were in full swing. I love markets, and even though Lucerne is known as the number one tourist destination in Switzerland, and the market was busy, it did not take away from the beauty of the city. I loved the fact that there were so many people from all around the world in one place. The markets took place on each side of the Reusse River and there were locals selling breads, fresh organic fruit, cheeses, meats, a variety of antiques and anything else they may have pulled out of their attic today! The chapel bridge is a true landmark in the city and has original paintings from centuries ago hanging throughout. Unfortunately, there used to be close to 150 of them detailing the history of Lucerne, but a fire in the early 1990s took out a good majority of them. However, there are still about a third of the original artworks remaining, which are quite unique and striking to find gracing a bridge.


After buying some strawberries, kiwis, and local bread, we headed to the transportation museum. This is a must see for anyone coming to Lucern, especially if you have children. You’ll learn the history and see actual trains and planes from back in the day. They have the first train ever built in Switzerland on display from 1847. A new section of the museum is opening in June, dedicated to automobiles of the past, present and future. A journey through this very well designed museum forces its visitors to recognize how the country of Switzerland has so masterfully focused on the importance of sustainability for more than a century in nearly every facet of life.  A close examination every day activities demonstrates how dedication and effort in caring for their own “green” contributions has truly goes a long way. 


Last night while dining at the most exquisite restaurant on the water, Relais-Chateau Le Vieux-Manoir, I felt a sore throat coming on and I hate getting sick while traveling, but it tends to happen sometimes from the combination of flying and not sleeping much. The food was much too delicious to let it get to me, but today as expected, I woke up with a cold and headache, so our fearless leader recommended some Kirsch. She said it is used in Switzerland to kill germs, so of course I took her advice, and tonight with dinner, I had this clear, colorless cherry flavored fruit brandy made from double distillation of morellos, a dark-colored cultivar of sour cherry….

drink3That’s my way of telling you that I am headed to bed for now and I promise more stories and great pictures over the next few days! Gute Nacht!

Cheese, Chocolate, and more Chocolate

cheese-factoryI would say the theme of today was food.  Dairy to be exact.  And for someone who is lactose intollerant, I was a bit scared.  But I came prepared with a box of lactaid and was ready to go!   There was no way I was coming to Switzerland and not trying the cheese and chocolate!   After a delicious breakfast of  lox, fruit and Swiss cereal and breads at the hotel, we took about a forty minute ride from Fribourg to Gruyere and went to visit La Maison du Gruyeres, where the authentic Gruyere cheese is made and aged.  Did you know that it takes 121 pounds of milk to make 1kg of Gruyere cheese?  Depending on the season, between 4,000 and 7,000 rounds mature in the cellers at a temperature of 18 degrees celcius at 92% humidity.  If you buy Gruyere cheese in the states, you’ll know its authentic if it has an AOC on the label.  You can be guaranteed that is an all natural product and the quality of milk is the highest.   

After the cheese tour, we took a short ride up to the Gruyere Castle, which was situated in the beautifully quaint gardenvillage of Gruyere which only has around 100 inhabitants and consists of one beautifully lined street with two museums, the HR Griger and the Tibet,  the restaurant where we ate for lunch, and souvenir type shops.  Lunch was at the well-known Restaurant Le Chalet and I know why it is so well known…its cheese fondue is to die for!  fondue-eating2The smell was kind of funky as I was warned, but it was so delicious!  They make their fondue from a mixture of gruyere and raclett and serve it with potatos and bread for dipping.   If you’d like to try making this on your own, here are the ingredients for the authentic recipe for Friboug which serves four people: 400 grams Gruyere cheese, 400 grams Fribourg Vacherin cheese, 1 clove or garlic, 3 decilitres white wine, 15 grams of potato starch and Kirsch and pepper.   Drop me a comment if you’d like the  instructions!  For dessert, we had rasberries in double cream, all made locally. 

Following our cheesefest, we took a short drive to Broc and to the Cailler-Nestle Chocolate Factory.  You know what they say, no matter how full you are, there is always room for chocolate…or maybe that’s just what I say.  Not only was admission free, but after a brief tour that included tasting the cocoa beans that are used for the chocolate and watching how it is made, there was a long counter full of samples.  chocolate-eatingThere was a huge variety of plain milk and dark chocolate, chocolate with hazlenuts, almonds, crushed cocoa beans, truffles, etc.  Of course I had to try almost one of everything, but I did it as though I was at a wine tasting.  Just one bite of each!  Well, two of some of them…ok I finished a few.  After the tour, we went into the store which had a huge variety and of course I stood for a half an hour trying to decide what to bring home.

Comotose from all of the food, I slept on the 40 minute ride back to Fribourg and got my second wind just in time to catch some of the shops which stay open late.  We toured the beautiful medieval city for a few hours before it was time for dinner.  I was sure I could not eat again so soon, but somehow I made it happen.   Dinner was at the Restaurant Hotel de Ville which served a phenomenal four course meal with ingredients that tasted so fresh.   dinnerI opted out of the merenge with ice cream and double cream.   I had to stop somewhere!  

It’s off to bed for five hours before waking up to hike up to the cathedral which is supposed to have the best view of the whole city of Fribourg.  Then  it’s on to Murten and to one of Switzerland’s vineyards, Mount Vully…and I’m sure more chocolate!

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Bonjour! Guten Tag! … From Switzerland!

Swiss GreenDepending on where you are in Switzerland, you’ll hear one of the two phrases, and of course it means, Hello from Switzerland!  After a smooth eight hour flight on Swiss Air, we  descended on the beautiful greenery, farmland, and mountains of Switzerland, and landed at  Zurich Airport. We  hopped on Rail Europe which has a stop on the lower level of the airport, and took it to Fribourg, where we caught a quick bus to Romantik Hotel Au Savage.

Instead of rushing right out of the airport like I usually do, I stayed for about an hour and strolled around what is the second largest mall in Switzerland.   They have an assortment of stores such as Migros, Switzerland’s well known superstore chain, clothing and shoe shops, banks,  bakeries, and even dry cleaning.

We hopped on the 9:13am train to Fribourg and the hour and a half ride was relaxing with beautiful Swiss scenery.  The final leg of our trip was a five minute bus ride to Romantik Hotel Au Savage.   The hotel is part of the Typically Swiss Hotels,  where you get that extra touch of personalized service.  With only a few rooms on each floor, this hotel is quaint while the rooms are  spacious and comfortable.   We had a four course dinner at their Restaurant du Sauvage, which was both delicious and creative.

During the afternoon, we took a city tour of Fribourg. img_8528 The city surrounds itself with beautiful medieval architecture, fountains, churches, museums and gorgeous landscaping.  You can walk through the cobblestone streets into various boutiques or explore its historical side.   Fribourgh has a bridge over the River Sarine that links the French-Speaking and German-speaking part of Switzerland.   While there, we went into a museum dedicated to the works of James Tinguely, who along with his wife Niki de St Phalle made a distinguishing mark on Fribourgh’s cultural and artistic life.  img_8471Jean Tinguely was a master of moving art.  His sculptures appeal to several senses at the same time: sight, hearing, touch and sometimes even smell.

I was then introduced to something truly incredible… The Fribourg Funicular!  img_8521It is the only means of transport in all of Europe that operates entirely off of its own city’s waste water.  Built in 1899, it a fitting literal link between the modern city center and the historic old town.  Before each individual journey on the funicular, 3,000 liters of the town’s waste water are pumped into the system.  Even in the 19th century, the Swiss were thinking Green!  The ride, complete with cranking and creaking, is a must see for any visitor to the city.

I look forward to checking out some of the boutiques, and the vegetable and flower market on Saturday morning.  This market has been there for quite a few centuries and is held regularly every Wednesday and Saturday.  For now, I’m off to bed, as we only slept one hour last night on the plane and I’ve already walked into a glass door…no joke.  When I don’t sleep, and am fighting  jet lag, I’m dangerous!  Tomorrow we’re spending some time at a chocolate factory, so I’m sure everything will be just fine!