The Cháteau dating back to the Bronze Age and was made famous by the Romantic poets including Lord Byron in the 19th century. If you are in Montreux it is definitely worth a visit and if pressed for time the bus is a more efficient option then the walk, as there are far too many distractions.
Our Swiss experience concluded with a couple of scoops of Movenpick overlooking Lake Geneva, a fitting end to a great trip.
Another amazing train journey from Broc to Montreux followed; with the train going along and through the mountains; descending into Lake Geneva and Montreux; this time sit on the left hand side!
We made a brief trip into Lausanne, the old town was a solid climb from the train station; after we almost got to Old Town; we found at least 3 different metro stations! There is a panoramic view of the city from just outside the Cathedral; all other sights will have to be part of the next visit.
Next stop, the chocolate factory of Cailler (at Broc Fabrique), the oldest brand in Switzerland, which has been owned by Nestle since 1929. Our tour included a history of chocolate, Cailler and a glimpse into the production process.
The highlight of the tour was of course the tastings at the end. Cailler offered unlimited samples of some of the chocolates that they make, a tip when you next visit; hold off until get to the Ambassador range – they are by far the best………..
Finally, the day that we had been looking forward to most arrived, a chance to feast on cheese and chocolate at the factories in the heart of Switzerland.
Breakfast was described as “hearty” on the hotel website, what they omitted to mention was that it included the specialities of the region Guyere cheese and meringue. In the interest of research, we had to sample the various aged Guyere on offer and the meringue with fresh strawberries and “yogurt”, which looked surprising like the double cream we had the previous night!
The tour of the cheese factory at La Maison du Guyère was an audio tour with Cherry the cow as our “guide”, some interesting facts that we learnt:
Each cow eats 100kg of grass and 85L of water a day to produce 25L of milk
12L of milk are used to produce 1kg of cheese
7 million litres of milk is the certified AOC production of Guyere, of which 2/3 is consumed within Switzerland
We were able to see the cheesemakers at work through the various stages of production and the sample at the end was 3 small pieces of 6, 8 and 10 month Guyere… The group was split as to which was each of our favourites, so you will just have to try all of them and make your own mind up!
The journey to Guyères took approximately 4 hours and involved 4 different trains; luckily this time the Swiss trains ran on time and all the connections were seamless. Guyères was a lovely surprise, set on top of a hill; with cobbled streets and lovely main square.
Town of Guyeres
Guyeres town walls
Guyeres – View from entrance
Dinner was another fantastic fondue using Vacherin cheese and was topped off with the other Guyères staple of meringue served with double cream and fresh strawberries; luckily the food was shared. Sorry no pictures this time, you will just have to go and sample it for yourself!
Dressed in our warmest clothes, we purchased our tickets up to Jungfrau; which in the end totalled 137 CHF (or 100 GBP)! We then boarded the trains to the highest station in Europe from 796 m (Interlaken) to 3454m (Jungfraujoch), the journey took about 2 hours; despite being able to see Jungfrau from our hotel balcony! As 2012 was the 100 year anniversary of the opening of Jungfrau, there was a special DVD played when we passed through the tunnels of the Eiger mountain; which was always designed as a tourist attraction and took over 16 years to build. I’m sure that today’s environmental impact statements would never see this built!
The views from Jungfraujoch include the main mountains of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, the glacial fields, the meteorological station called the Sphinx and the valleys of Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald. Despite some of the terraces being closed due to recent snowfalls, we braved the snow, cold winds and hordes of other tourists to get some good pictures! The Ice Palace had quite a few ice sculptures and more opportunities for cheesy pictures! The best way to describe the experience is AMAZING!!!
After a hearty lunch of wurst and rosti at Kleine Scheidegg, we attempted to walk it off with a walk down the mountain to Grindelwald, however the paths were closed to walkers due to the volume of snow; so another train journey awaited us!
Grindelwald is a small town, larger than Lauterbrunnen however, most of the shops were also closed; luckily for us the chocolate shop of Läderach was still open! I definitely suggest the Champagne and Congac batons if you are anywhere in Switzerland.
The limited food choices of Lauterbrunnen saw us back at Hotel Oberland and the mystery of the Australian flag was solved when the owner spoke and revealed himself to be a fellow Sydney sider….
On recommendation of the Lonely Planet, Gimmewald and Schilthorn seemed like a good way to spend half a day before making our way to Guyeres.
The cable car to Grütschalp (1487m), then the train to Mürren (1684 m) were relatively straight-forward; however the cable car to Schilthorn was closed due to the strong winds ; so on to Gimmewald it was. On our walk we passed snowy front gardens, waterfalls, avalanche defences, grazing cows, countless pinecones and of course a snow capped mountain or two!
After a picnic lunch at Gimmewald, with a view of the mountains and winds which threatened to blow away anything lighter than a bottle of water. We took the cable car to Stechelberg (922m)a spectacular cable car ride with a single pylon and the cliff is a sheer drop of about 500m; with the sound of waterfalls and the wind tossing the cable car; it was definitely a memorable 10 minutes! The walk back to Lauterbrunnen followed the river and involved crossing a stream with a bag of pinecones, river stones and non-waterproof shoes!