Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cheese and Chocolate!

Happy Veteran's Day weekend, y'all!  I can't tell you how proud I am of my soldier without sounding completely cheesy, but his dedication to our country and family makes Eric an incredible man!  He sure gets bashful when I say things like that, but it's true!

For the 4-day weekend we decided to take the opportunity to go to Switzerland!  The MWR is the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation office that provide all sorts of things for Army families.  Here in Europe one of those things are day and weekend trips!  The ticket price covers the bus ride, entrance fees, hotels, etc...  Parking is a huuuge source of stress for Eric over here.  Roads are not built for large cars, and finding parking at all, much less finding parking for our Explorer, is impossible!  Paying for someone else to deal with that, so I don't have to travel with a grumpy husband, is worth it!  



Traveling has slowed down a little since school started and now that the prime tourist season is over, but that didn't mean I wanted to just sit still until spring!  So I went to the MWR website to see what they offered and booked their 'Chocolate and Cheese' trip!   

Of course there are downsides to these kinds of trips too.  In order to see everything the MWR has planned they keep you on a tight itinerary, which is understandable, but my little family like to take our time and absorb as much as possible.  We like to go as fast or slow as we want depending on how we're feeling about whatever it is we're doing.  
This was just a day trip, and we had a long way to go, so we had to be on the bus and moving at 4 a.m.  Chocolate and cheese sure sounded like a great idea a month ago when I booked it, but getting up at 2:30 in the morning sucked, and I was thisclose to staying in bed and scraping the entire trip!  {I'm really glad I didn't tough}  This weekend we went to the Nestle & Cailler chocolate factory, the La Maison du Gruyere cheese factory, and then spent the afternoon in the medieval town Gruyères. 
  
We've heard the stories about terrible bus rides caused by screaming babies, toddlers running up and down the middle of the bus, getting kicked in the back from the person behind you, obnoxious conversations, etc... from friends that have gone on trips through the MWR, but I didn't care, if no driving/parking meant that I didn't have to deal with a grumpy husband then I could tolerate anything obnoxious!  And actually the bus ride wasn't bad!  Except that "those people" on our bus....were us.  Yeah, we had the puker.  Isabelle puked about 10 minutes away from the chocolate factory.  Eric and I thought our entire day was doomed, but after she puked, she was her happy, normal self, and ready to eat as much chocolate as possible!  {And we will never leave home without Dramamine and 7Up ever again!}



Our first stop in Switzerland was the Maison Cailler Chocolate factory!  Even the outside of the building smelled like chocolate!  It was the neatest tour and at the end of it, we got an all-you-can-taste chocolate tasting (not to be confused with an all-you-can-eat buffet)!










Next, the cheese factory!  The medieval town Gruyères is where the famous cheese is from and was only a 10 minute drive from the chocolate factory.  We arrived a little before noon and had until 5:00 to do whatever we wanted.  I wasn't as impressed with the cheese tour.  Actually, it was pretty lame, but we did get to sample 6mos old, 8mos old, and 10mos old cheese.  It was the stinky kind of cheese that's supposed to be good.....it wasn't.  






Europe is very pet-friendly- they bring their dogs with them everywhere, so it's common to see dogs sitting next to businesses waiting for their owners to come out.  There was a doggie waiting so nicely for her owner outside the La Maison du Gruyere cheese factory- Isabelle just couldn't handle that this precious dog wasn't getting petted, so of course she waited with the doggie so she wasn't lonely.



The tour at the cheese factory didn't take long since it was self-guided so we hurried through so that we could spend the afternoon enjoying the medieval town and scenery!  I wanted to see the castle and the HR Giger Museum.  We were warned that the Giger museum was not appropriate for children and that the MWR was "not responsible for your child's nightmares" (they literally said that in the itinerary we were given) so obviously we had to go! 




HR Giger is the man who made the alien from the Alien movies and then won an academy award for it.  Isabelle was not the only child in the museum!  But the MWR and the nice girl who sold us our tickets were right, this was not appropriate for children!  Isabelle spent the majority of the tour with one of us putting our hands over her eyes or shooing her into a hallway.  His art was very violently sexual, explicit, and disturbing!  No photography was allowed inside the gallery so I don't have any pictures, but unless you like that kind of stuff, you aren't missing anything.  We only lasted a few minutes before deciding that the tour hadn't been a good idea in the first place.

We figured that a castle was safe though, and happily toured that instead.















With 3 hours left until the bus took us home, we set out to absorb as much of Switzerland as we could!  Gruyères is the cutest town!  I'm pretty sure I said "How CUTE!" about a gazillion times.













Ohmigosh...Switzerland is more beautiful than I could ever describe!  Absolutely breath-taking/awe-inspiring/peaceful/majestic all rolled into one word that I don't think exists!  I tried my darnedest to get the prettiness in my pictures, but I promise these pictures just don't do Switzerland justice!  















We were awake by 2:30 in the morning, leaving Kaiserslautern by 4, and home again at midnight...almost a 24 hour trip, but it was SO amazing!  We even made it the entire ride home with no puking!  I've booked 2 more day trips through the MWR this month, and Eric and I are deciding whether to go to London through them or on our own early next year, but I'm thankful for the opportunities the MWR provide!  We had a BLAST!

I want to wish my very best friend a Happy Birthday on my blog!  I didn't get a card sent so I hope this makes up for it just a little.  I miss you like crazy!  I thought about you all day while we were in Switzerland, and when I heard a Celine Dion song at the restaurant we were at, my heart hurt a little.  Melany, my heart was with you all day yesterday!  Eric and I hope you had the best birthday, I know this year will be your best yet!  I love you!

1 comment:

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