Switzerland (Days 31 & 32)

This weekend I got to see Switzerland, and it was GORGEOUS!

Geneva: Jet d’Eau
France: train ride to Switzerland

In January 2009, I went to Washington, D.C. for a four-month internship on Capitol Hill.  In my first few days there, Obama’s Inauguration was held and the city turned into a madhouse!  While trying to get from my apartment in Crystal City to Capitol Hill to see the festivities, I made a friend, Gina, who I ended up spending my entire day with.  She helped me get to Capitol Hill (the metro wasn’t going to my regular stop so I had no idea where to go), and I took her into an office building where we were able to get a good view and avoid the chaos.

Annecy, France: Palais de l’Isle jail

Gina is from Geneva, Switzerland, and this weekend I got to stay with her and her parents and they showed me around.  Wow!  What a GORGEOUS place!

Annecy, France

I arrived by train Friday night and after dropping my stuff off, Gina gave me a walking tour of Geneva.  I was really surprised to see these cables running maybe 20 or so feet in the air ALL OVER the city, and found out they were for many of the busses and trolleys so they could function using electricity as well as gas.  Don’t think that I’d ever seen that before.  We walked through a park and around the lake where they have the Jet d’Eau, one of the largest fountains in the world.  It was huge!  The lake was very pretty at night, and I was really surprised to see swans all over the place; Gina said they’re native to Switzerland.  Definitely didn’t know that!

Annecy: Olympic Ad
Annecy, France
Geneva, Switzerland: flower clock
Gruyères, Switzerland
Geneva: cables for the busses

The next morning, we drove around a little bit and then went over the border to Annecy, France.  Gina said it’s called the French Venice because of the beautiful little canal that runs through it.  We walked around the town for a while; very pretty.  They’re in the running to be the hosts for the 2018 Winter Olympics.  Once we were done in Annecy, we went back to Geneva and went for a walk around the town again.  Gina said that Geneva is well-known for its watches/clocks, so we went to see the Geneva flower clock then had dinner and went to a movie.

Gruyères: cheese samples

Gruyères: Fondue

 On Sunday, Gina, her parents and I drove all over Switzerland.  It was an absolutely beautiful drive.  Our first stop was in Gruyères, Switzerland where we took a tour of the Gruyère cheese factory.  We learned about how cheese is made and got samples of the cheese they make.  After we finished our tour, we ate Gruyère fondue for lunch!  Fun!

Gruyères: cheese factory
Gruyères: cheese aging
Gruyères: cheese factory (Alps in background)
Lauren and Gina outside of the cheese factory

 After the cheese factory, we went to Broc, Switzerland to the Callier chocolate factory.  The factory had a really fun way of teaching their story when we took the tour.  It sent us from room to room where an audio recording would be played while lights would highlight whatever piece of the story was relevant.  So in the first room, it was decorated like an Aztec village/jungle area and then later on there were Victorian rooms.  It was definitely a lot fancier than I expected!

Broc: Callier chocolates
Broc: Callier raw goods display

At the end of the tour, we got to see the raw goods that are turned into chocolate, some of the factory machinery, and got to taste a BUNCH of chocolate… whoop!

Broc: Callier chocolates, so many to try!

From there it was onto Montreux, Switzerland where we saw more of the Swiss Alps, and got to see Lake Léman and the Chateau de Chillon.  Beautiful, beautiful place!  Bet there have been some breathtaking sunrise and sunset photos taken at this location!

Montreux: Chateau de Chillon
Montreux: Chateau de Chillon
Montreux: Chateau de Chillon

From there we started to head back to Geneva, but we stopped by Lusanne, Switzerland on our way so I could see the headquarters for the Olympic Committee.  Woah!  Pretty nice view they had.

view from the Olympic committee headquarters
Lusanne: Olympic Committee headquarters
There were vineyards EVERYWHERE!

Unfortunately on our way back we made it all the way to Geneva close to the time for my train to leave and ended up hitting every red light in town.  Gina and I ran from the car all the way to the platform and as we got there the conductor saw us and the train started to inch away.  Boo.  It was the last train to France, too.

We raced to the airport to the airport to try to see about a flight but that didn’t work, so we went back to the train station to try to rebook a train for the morning but there wasn’t anyone there!  So much for free ticket changes within an hour of missing the train!  We ended up going back to their apartment and booking a train ticket online for the 5:50 am train to Paris for Monday morning.  Whew!  Crazy ending, but what a fun, beautiful weekend with a great family!