Friday, June 09, 2006

Cheryl and Loren's Trip to Switzerland

From Cheryl:

Here is a quick blog of our trip to Switzerland. Many of you are probably wondering why, other than general insanity, I would take a 6-month-old to Switzerland. I had not planned to do any work travel until after she is weaned, so when I was asked to substitute for my boss at a meeting on vital statistics, I was going to pass. But my parents were up for the adventure of coming along to babysit, so off we went. The meeting was in a little town called Glion, which is a 12-minute ride up the mountain from Montreux, home of the famous jazz festival and about an hour away from Geneva. When the weather was clear, the view from the terrace of our hotel was stunning.

Loren did very well on the flight to Geneva. It was an overnight flight and she slept for a fair chunk of it. She also seemed to really enjoy the train rides.

We arrived a day early to give everyone a chance to rest up from the travel and adjust to the time zone before my meeting started Tuesday evening. On Tuesday, we took the cog train down to Montreux and walked along Lake Geneva to the Chateau de Chillon, the famous castle that dates to the 12th century.

We really missed Curt that day -- he would have been in heaven touring the medieval dungeons, courtyards etc.

Wednesday and Thursday I was in the meeting and my parents took care of Loren. Because I was feeding her on the breaks they couldn't do any long excursions, but they did manage to make a trip down into Montreux with her for lunch each day.

Friday was our big sightseeing day. The weather had been unseasonably cold and cloudy all week, but we hoped for nice weather in order to ride the cog train up to Rochers-de-Naye, the peak above Montreux at 2042 meters. Our backup plan was to go to the village of Gruyere (yes, the home of the cheese). Friday dawned bright and sunny so we hopped the 10:00 train and chugged up the mountain... and watched the sky get progressively cloudier, and the ground get progressively snow-covered... until we reached the top in essentially white-out conditions. Here are a few views from the way up ... note the sunny valley giving way to the snow and some sheep grazing.

Just to clarify, this was on June 2. At the top of the mountain, there was probably a foot of snow on the ground and visibility of absolutely nill.

So we could not even set foot outside the building. But at least there was an expo to entertain us for the hour until the next train. An expo all about... marmots.

Here are Loren and Grandpop enjoying the marmot exhibit.

It was quite thorough and even included a live webcam from the local marmot burrow. Just when we thought the day couldn't get any more exciting, we found out the the train was snowed in and we had to wait for a snowplow to come up the mountain to dig it out. But by 12:45 we were safely on our way down the mountain.

Since we were feeling a bit unsatisfied we decided to push on to Gruyere. The weather cleared and we had a gorgeous ride through the mountains on a panoramic train to the charming, completely touristic village of Gruyere where we had a nice walk through the village and castle.

By the way, if you are in Switzerland and only have time for one castle, make it Chillon. Gruyere does not even compare. We enjoyed the local delicacies -- cheese, of course, and raspberries with Gruyere double cream. The only disappointment was that we arrived too late in the day to see the cheesemaking at the demonstration dairy. On the trip back, we had fabulous views of the mountaintop that had eluded us in the morning.

Finally, on Saturday morning we headed back to Geneva where we spent the day with my friends Linda and Jason and their two kids. Unfortunately I forgot to snap any pictures with them but here is a view of Geneva from the tower of the cathedral (those who have traveled in Europe with me know that I cannot resist climbing towers). Our bad luck with weather continued. It was so windy that the most famous Geneva landmark, the Jet d'Eau, was turned off.


BullBunky said...

These are wonderful photos, Cheryl. I'm particularly fond of the sheep...they made me laugh.

Lmopuckett said...

Great pics Cheryl! Loren is just precious. Did you bring back some good cheese?