After coming down from the observatoire, we took the bus back down into Gruyères to look around the town and get some lunch. The bus takes you to the train station, and from there it's a five minute walk (all up hill, of course) into the historic town center. On the way, we passed more cattle, of course.
Some of the cattle we passed were very close to the road we were walking on - close enough to stop and say hello. This is one of my all-time favorite pictures of Justine:
|Cows can be pretty shocking, can't they?|
We continued on our way into town:
Gruyères is a super cute little town, filled with your typical Swiss restaurants serving fondue and souvenir shops selling Swiss army knifes (I bought one - an excellent decision) and cheese and ... cuckoo clocks (sadly, I bought no clocks).
|Note the cowbells hanging by the flag!|
I couldn't very well spend a weekend in Switzerland without getting fondue!
We had the traditional fondue moitié-moitié: moitié means half, and this implies that there were two cheeses in the fondue - in this case, Vacherin fribourgoise (a cheese made in Fribourg, very near to Gruyères), and raclette, a mild cheese from Southwestern Switzerland. "Fondue" literally means "melted," which is an accurate description - the two cheeses are melted over a flame with a dry white wine, and just a little garlic for flavor and flour to thicken the liquid. Traditionally, bread is ripped into small pieces, skewered, and dipped into the hot cheese, which is served over a flame to keep the cheese simmering. Many restaurants also offer potatoes or small pieces of meat to dip in, but we stuck with just the bread. This is definitely a dish for the cheese aficionado - the oozy, bubbling, creamy fondue was cheese at its best. There was just a little acidic kick from the wine. To cut through the richness of cheese, I drank a glass of Swiss wine that I think was called fondant - it was a little sweet, but not too exciting. Overall, an excellent meal.
After lunch, we headed down to the train station. Since we had a little time to kill, we stopped in the gift shop across the street in the gruyère cheese factory to look around. When we could finally make our way back to Lausanne, we had the same three methods of transportation - the mini (two-car) train, a bus, and then another train. We headed back to her apartment, where I began to pack and Justine spent approximately forever (ok, so really, it was only about 4-5 hours...) on the phone with her travel agent and various airline officials trying to change her plane ticket for the next day so that she could spend some time in Lebanon before heading back to Saudi Arabia, where she is getting her PhD. We had a late, light dinner of left-overs, finished packing, and I was able to book my hostels/hotels for Colmar, Dijon, and Bayonne.
We were up early to catch our planes and trains. I took the train from Lausanne up to Basel on the Northern border of Switzerland, and there changed trains to get to Strasbourg, all without a hitch.
Switzerland is a stunningly beautiful country. Especially up in the mountains, the air just felt cleaner and fresher and purer. The Swiss are clearly very proud of their heritage - I saw Swiss flags hanging all over. I only really got a chance to see French Switzerland (with the exception of my hour or so in the Basel train station, where I got to practice my very limited German - that is to say, I greeted people with "Guten tag," and understood when someone called me "fräuline" that she was speaking to me); I would love to see the German and Italian parts of the country as well, and spend more time in the French parts, too!
Coming soon: Strasbourg - home of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, späeztle, baeckeoffe, kugelhopf... Are we sure we're still in France???