Wedged neatly between Germany, Austria, France, and Italy, Switzerland melds the best of all worlds – and adds a healthy dose of chocolate, cowbells, and cable cars.
– Rick Steves
I’m not going to lie, Switzerland is expensive. Not quite as expensive as Norway, but still more expensive than the rest of Europe. But it is also beautiful, full of incredible scenery, people and food!
We spent our first evening at Lucerne. This city is idyllic. Or at least it would be without the rain that we encountered! But that’s the price you pay for travelling Europe in October – it will rain at some point. And despite the weather, Lucerne still managed to work its magic on us. It is one of those picture book towns that even when you are there doesn’t look real.
From Lucerne we drove into Bern, this is a city I visited whilst inter-railing in 2008, and it didn’t appear that much had changed since then. There are still hundreds of fountains/water troughs, there are still stunning views over the rooftops, and there is still a load of places serving insanely good food. But sadly we were on a budget, so we ate in the camper to save money!
The next day we travelled down to Gruyères – famous for its cheese. We went to one of the cheese factories there, and I have to admit that it was a slight disappointment. We did get some free samples of differently aged gruyère, but the whole museum was a really underwhelming. The one redeeming feature was the cheese flipping robot. Overall, I would recommend not going to the cheese museum and instead investing in several different chances of gruyère cheese from a shop. The town was not a total bust though, not far from the town of Greyères is another town called Broc. And Broc holds one of the most amazing chocolate factories: Cailler. Cailler (pronounced Kai-ay) is Switzerlands oldest chocolate factory, and is part of a group of four original chocolatiers: Cailler, Peter, Kholer and Nestlé (yes, that Nestlé) that pioneered milk chocolate made from condensed milk and hazelnut pralines. Walking up to the factory you can smell the chocolate instantly. The tour is adorable – small groups are guided through the history of chocolate and the Cailler factory with moving displays narrated in the main language of the group. At the end of the tour is an all you can eat chocolate bar. Apparently 14 is my limit. Those chocolates are insanely good, but there is a limit even for me!
Our last few days in Switzerland were spent in Basel with Amanda, a friend of Sam’s from school. It was an absolute joy to be able to stay in an actual house with actual furniture and proper running water (that isn’t charge per minute!) On our first night in Basel, we were able to meet up with a friend of ours from uni who just happened to be in the city at the same time as us. Our second day was spent catching up on admin (emails, blogs, etc. and as you can tell, catching up is still something I need to do!) and then we went out for fondue. Fondue is one of my all time favourite things, because its an entire meal of melted cheese. And all meals should include melted cheese as far as I am concerned. Amanda gave us a tour of the city the next day, and we were there in time for Herbstmesse – the Autumn fair that has the accolade of being the worlds oldest, which the tradition dating back for over 540 years to 1471! We ate far too much, including: kürtőskalács (spiral donuts), chäsbängel (fondue filled bagels) but generally had a lovely day. Thank you Amanda for your fantastic hospitality for our time in Basel!
Where would you recommend to visit in Switzerland? What incredible foods did we miss out on?