Sunday, March 4, 2012

Switzerland- Land of chocolate and cheese!

Before I say more, let me just point out some of the most Beautiful sunsets I have ever seen while on this trip... It seems so unreal!

WOW! This was one of the most beautiful places that I have ever seen. If you have never been to Switzerland I highly suggest going. It has everything you could ask for in terms of beauty. It has gorgeous mountains surrounding every town, outstanding lake front views, and little quaint towns on rolling hills just to add to its beauty. Many people go to Switzerland for its skiing, but I am not much of a skier ( ive never gone in my life) so I passed on the skiing for this trip.

While I was in Switzerland I went all over the southern part of it. I went all around the Lake Geneva ( Not the same as the lake in Wisconsin). I will recap my vacation by explaining what we did in each city.

We flew from Madrid to Geneva, it was the first city that we were able to explore! I went with 3 other friends: Lauren, Sarah, and Katlyn. Lauren and Sarah both live in Sevilla. They are two of my close friends here in Sevilla and I have already started to plan a trip with them to tour southern France. Katelyn and I actually did not meet until we were on our way to Switzerland. All of the girls are from the south ( Texas and North Carolina) so it was interesting to hear about their life in the southern states. I may have started to incorporate the word “ya’ll” into my vocabulary by the end of this trip… haha.

In Geneva, we met up with Megan on the first night and we had fondue ( Bread dipped in a blend of cheese and wine). This was a good first meal to start off our trip because this is something that Switzerland is known for. Even though it was delicious, I am not much of a cheese person so it wasn’t my favorite but it was still fun to try it. I feel like going out for fondue is more of an activity than a meal because while eating fondue you are more focused on the conversations than the food.

Our Fondu! Lauren (left) and Sarah (right)

Geneva is a very pretty city. It has the tallest fountain in Europe ( I believe) and it has a really cute “old town” area. In this town I discovered my love for Macaroons. If you have never had a Macaroon before I suggest you try one soon!

Tallest Fountain!

From Geneva we went to Montreux:

In Montreux we went to the biggest Castle in Switzerland called the Chateau de chillon. This is also the most visited historical monument in Switzerland. Inside the castle they had an exhibit explaining the years that witchcraft took place. It was interesting to read about the punishments that people were given if they were accused of being a witch. Besides that, the Castle was absolutely gorgeous!

Love this picture! The castle was absolutely gorgeous.

While we were outside taking pictures of the castle we ran into some scuba divers in the lake. I felt adventurous and climbed out to the end of this rock path in the lake and I heard something splashing in the water. At first I thought it was a big fish and then I saw two heads pop out of the water. I was shocked to see them because I did not know that they were there. The water in lake Geneva is very clear so I could see why people would want to go scuba diving there! At night we went out to dinner with Megan and we ate a Swedish dish called Rosti. It sounds simple but it was the most delicious meal I have had in a long time. There are different types of Rosti, but I ordered one that consisted of Hash brown potatoes with an egg and ham on top. It was sooooo yummy! After we ate we took advantage of the Beers on special for 4 CHF ( Swiss Franks, 1 CHF= 1.10 USD). I don’t know why they have not converted to the Euros. It is difficult traveling places where they have a different currency!

The next day we went on a hike with Megan and her friends up Montreux. Montreux sits on a big hill so we basically just climbed up the hill as far as we could go.

Megan and I before our hike!

Taking a break and enjoying the view...

After hiking my friends and I left to go catch a train to go up the mountain of Rocheres de Naye. Unfortunately it was a cloudy day and we could not see very much but nonetheless, the view going up the mountain was priceless.

On top of the mountain!

I was in the clouds, it was so white you could not see anything.

While in Montreux we took another day trip to Gruyeres. In Gruyeres we went to a Cheese factory and we were able to see how they make their cheese, pretty cool. But what was even better was the CHOCOLATE FACTORY! We went to the Cailler Choclate factory which was another train ride outside of Gruyere. It was amazing because the last room of the tour was a room with an endless supply of chocolate. You could eat as many chocolates as you wanted because no one was in their watching you and keeping count of how many we ate. My mom and Heidi would have LOVED this! Needless to say, we felt so sick after all of the choclates that we consumed. There must have been about 30 different types of chocolate, I did not try all of them thankfully), but I tried a good amount!

The room with all of the chocolates! This is the closet I will get to being in Willy Wonka!

As long as we are on the topic of sweets, here are some adorable pastries!

After we took the day trip to Gruyere we went back to Montreux to grab our luggage and then we made our way to the city Lausanne. There wasn’t much to do in this city but it had a pretty downtown area and lakefront view. Also, we found a store that is from Paris that sells the best Macaroons EVER! The store is called Laduree. It is pretty fancy and expensive but well worth it! In Lasaunne I also stayed at my first hostel so that was a fun experience. I would say it was a nice hostel. There are a few differences between a hotel and hostel. First of all you have to make your own bed; they just give you the sheets. You have to pay if you want a towel. Usually there are bunk beds and not very many decorations in the rooms. And most times there is a community bathroom. I would obviously prefer to stay in a hotel but if you can find a good deal on a hostel it is worth it to save money!

The last night in town we made it back to Geneva and were able to see Megan one last time! Megan had a Raclette party and she invited a handful of people from her law school. Raclette is very simple but it is soo delicious. All it is is baked potatoes and you have this special cheese melter that melts the Raclette Cheese. Once the cheese is bumbling you take the cheese off of the cooker and drizzle is all over the potatoes. You can add other ingredients if you want, I added salami and different types of spices to give it some more flavor. It was delicious!

How you melt the cheese...This would be a good gift to get Megan!

It was nice to be able to meet all of Megan’s friends and also her roommate and her roommate’s 3 year old daughter. Even though the daughter did not speak English it was fun/interesting trying to talk to her. Megan’s roommate spoke English very well. Traveling has made me realize how important it is to know other languages, It is aspiring to meet bilingual people. I can’t even imagine trying to learn another 1 or 2 languages. It is just crazy for me to think about. The 3 year old girl that lives with Megan already knows French and German. How is it that a kid that is 3 years old is so intelligent? When I have kids one day I am going to be teaching them Spanish while they are still in the womb… just kidding, but it’s not a bad idea! In order for people to learn a language fluently they need to learn it while they are young and while they are at their peak of learning.

Soo everything was going smoothly on the last night that I was in town until it was time to get to the airport. We didn’t book a hotel room because we had to be at the airport at 4:30 in the morning so it would have been silly to pay for a place to stay. We were planning on taking the train but Megan told us of a bus stop that we could take that was even closer to her apartment. So at 12am we left her apartment and left for the bus stop. We got to the airport around 12:30 on the bus and we soon found out once we got there that the airport had closed at midnight. We missed getting into the airport by 30 minutes. Meanwhile there are all these people inside that are in the warm indoors sleeping, while we are stuck out in the cold! Our flight was leaving at 6:30 so we were planning on just hanging out in the airport until we could start checking in at 4am. So at this time we did not know what to do. We went to the train station that is connected to the airport but that was already closed down and the doors were locked, we tried finding a hotel nearby but it was very difficult to get to because the airport was surrounded by highways, and then we tried calling a cab so that we could go to Megan’s place but then they hung up on us because we did not speak French. Then we did not know what to do, so we decided to ask Megan if she could call a cab for us ( because she speaks French). We took the cab 5 minutes down the road to a hotel hoping that they would let us sit in their lobby until 4 when we needed to be back to the airport. Doing this would get us out of the cold and keep us safe. When we got to the hotel the receptionist was not very willing to let us sit there because he wasn’t allowed to do it but he said we could stay there until 3:30am. SO that’s what we did. I sat in a hotel lobby from 1-3:30 am. While we were there we were nervous because we all had to use the bathroom and we didn’t want to make the worked mad. One by one we had to sneak down to the basement and use the bathroom, it was an adventure. Let me tell ya!

Wouldn’t ya know?! The one time I do something adventurous like this and try to camp out in an airport in order to save money the airport is closed. Trying to travel on a budget is sometimes not the easiest thing to do. This was the longest day of my life!

At 3:30 we called a cab to bring us back to the aiport. Keep in mind that the airport is literally right down the street, and we had to pay about $35 to get there and back, SO EXPENSIVE! We went back to the airport and were able to get into the airport right away. If we didn’t already have enough bad luck, it only got a little worse. Our terminal was in D which was about a 15 minute walk from where we were. With no sleep we dragged all of our stuff all over the airport to get to our terminal. Once we got there we were waiting to board and realized that it was taking them a while to get us to start boarding. Of course, the lady came on the intercom and said that there was “technical problems” with our plane so we had to take a bus from our terminal D to B. So that added another 30 mins onto our travel day. Eventually we got on our flight but it was delayed by quite some time. I slept that whole plane right, with having no sleep I was sooo tired.

It’s a gamble to know where you should draw the line with spending the money to be comfortable and well rested or to save money and time. For example, we could have forked out another $50 a person to spend the night in a nearby hotel but is it worth it for 4 hours of sleep, if that? Or we could have taken the Ave train from Madrid to Sevilla that would be only a 2.5 hour train ride instead of 6 hours. By taking the bus I am saving 60 Euros. So even though it may take more time I am saving a lot of money. The funny thing about this is that two of the girls I was traveling with: Lauren and Katelyn, they decided last minute that they did not want to do the bus so they bought a train ticket on top of the bus ticket that they already bought. So they ended up paying about 100 Euros just to get back to Sevilla when our roundtrip ticket to Geneva only costed 70 Eruos. It’s funny how it works out that way. What’s better, comfort or saving money? I guess it depends on how much money you have to waste but still, it is a gamble.

Well, that was a very long post but there was also a lot to talk about! All in all, Switzerland is a country that everyone must see! I loved it and I hope to go back someday!


1 comment:

  1. Your picture of Chateau de chillon is great. Looks like you had a fun adventure in Switzerland.

    I like your comment about spending extra money to be more comfortable or saving money and "roughing it".

    The less money you spend the longer your money will if you travel cheap you can afford to travel more often. But then the experiences may not be as nice, because you're being cheap.

    It might be like eating at an Old Country Buffet where you can eat a ton of food for low money vs eating at a gourmet restaurant where you pay $100 for an entree. At OCB you get a lot of food for your money, but it doesn't taste very good...and at the fancy restaurant the food tastes great, but you don't get very much of it. Not sure the right answer. :)

    Maybe save money when you can...but don't be afraid to spend money when needed.