This past July, my family and another family of four took a two week trip around the beautiful country of Switzerland. Now, in the frigid winter of the flat land that is Columbus, I’m really missing the beautiful alps and the semi-warm weather. I never got around to writing about this trip in anything other than my travel journal, so I’ve decided to write about it today so that I can integrate all the photographs we took.
It is very expensive to fly into Switzerland. It is very expensive to fly out of Cleveland. So instead, we flew from Toronto to Paris. The drive to Toronto is about five hours and always ends with a steak dinner at the Keg. Then we take the shuttle to the airport and board our plane.
Upon arrival in Paris, we had an eventful trek to our hotel. First, we took a train into the city (not the eventful part). Then, we needed to take the metro (aka subway) to the part of the city we were staying in. This is where the story gets interesting. It is important to note that we are extremely jet-lagged and do not have all our wits about us, and that we are carrying all our luggage. We were very obvious tourists, and thus very easy targets. It is also important to note that my Dad has been training my sister and I our whole lives to be aware of pickpockets. I have been pickpocketed in my own house (by my dad) more often than I have been by actual pickpockets (never).
Anyway, so we get on the subway surrounded by a group of young men who also get on the subway at the same time as us. And then things start happening very fast. My dad jumps of the train following some guy. My mom holds open the door as it tries to close, holding up the whole train while my dad grabs the guy and starts yelling at him. The guy gives back my Dad’s phone and Dad gets back on the train. He calls out ‘thief’ and some other guys on the platform start running after him.
My dad had felt someone, one of the young men who got on right before us, bump into his chest, where he had stupidly left his phone in his breast-pocket by mistake. He knew immediately that his phone had been stolen, a virtue of him drilling my sister and I since we’ve had phones to leave in our back pockets.
We then headed to the symbol of Paris: the Eiffel Tower. We waited in line for about an hour to take the elevators up to the different viewing platforms. There would have been less of a line if we opted to take the stairs, however stairs are not my thing. Stairs are no one’s thing when they are severely jet lagged.
After our one evening in Paris, we headed to Beaune, a small town. We got lost on our way to the hotel and we were standing literally ten feet from the front door when the owner came out and asked it we were looking for the Maison Blanche, which we were. She was on her way out to a meeting but had just enough time to check us in. We were the only people staying in the B&B that night so we had the whole house to ourselves.
Our first order of business was to put on shorts, since it was hotter than expected. Then, we headed to the Hotel Deux Hospital, a medieval hospital known for its ornately tiled roof, which had a really nice audio guide.
We had our most expensive family meal to date at the Caves Madeline. I was not a fan of my fancy French wine and ended up pouring mine into my Dad’s glass eventually. I did a terrible job photographing my food on this trip, but I remember this meal being really good in a weird way. I think there were flowers involved. All the food was written daily on the blackboard at the back of the restaurant. I had a buckwheat salad over soft cow cheese, dusted with pecan and topped with a garnish of pickled onions and some greens. For my main, I had a melt-in-the-mouth tender beef shoulder. For dessert, I shared some French dessert with my mom that was essentially whipped egg over English custard with caramel sauce.
We bought matching PJs right before we left. It was something we would always do for vacations when we were younger and these PJs were too cute to resist.
First off, look at how blue and clear that water is. We dropped our bags at the hotel before heading down to the water for some lunch. We ate in beach chairs right by the lake. I shared a goat cheese salad with my Mom. Sarah, my sister, had ice cream.
We then headed to the Jet d’eau or that giant geyser you can see in the background above in the first picture.
We then met up with the other family we were traveling with and headed to MAMCO, the museum of modern and contemporary art. It was very abstract and not air-conditioned so we walked through more quickly than we otherwise might have.
The next day we headed to CERN (Council European Research Nuclear). It is a research facility where they send particles through a 17km loop and then smash them together. The other family had booked their tickets ahead of time. They’re a hard get, but we were able to get on a waiting list and get cancelation tickets. It was all super interesting and all way way over my head.
Yes, like the cheese. Fun fact: All Gruyere cheese technically is made in this town. If it’s made somewhere else it’s not Gruyere.
We took a bus up to what Rick Steves described as the “dark and smoky” cheese place. It was a long and winding road up the mountain. The place was indeed dark and smoky, but it was also all booked for the day.
So we turned around and headed back into the town and to the cheese factory across the street from the train station to hopefully get there while they were still making cheese. The audio guide was narrated by Cherry the cow. We managed to watch almost all of the cheese making process or at least the exciting parts.
My Dad really wanted to go to the HR Giger museum. He’s the guy that designed the alien in the movie Alien. We also went to the corresponding bar. I ordered a peach ice tea in hopes of getting some ice, but no luck. Ice tea=not hot tea.
We then headed back to the dark and smoky cheese barn to do the apline coaster, a metal track that runs down the mountain like a roller coaster power by gravity, that was right outside. I was a little nauseous from the twisty bus ride up the mountain, so I didn’t participate, instead I photographed.
That night we played card games at the other family’s airbnb. One of the boys found ice in their fridge so we were living high on the hog with two ice cubes each. You don’t realize how much you love ice until it’s gone.
In the next installment, we’ll go to Mürren, Bern, and Lucerne, and Venice, so stay tuned.