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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

It Has Been a "C" Kind of Day

It has been a "C" kind of day. Today is a day of connections, charcoal, corn, chalets, cows, cheese, and a castle.

We are off to Gruyères, home to the famous cheese by the same name.

Took the train to Spiez, changed to one going to Zweisimmen.

Then changed to another train in Zweisimmen which stopped in Montbovon.

Old time luxury

This area is part of the Golden Pass which goes from Interlaken to Montreux. It is a slow journey that takes you through the mountains. Breathtaking scenery. Swiss chalets. Cows grazing on the mountainsides and the fields.

Leaving Zweisimmen behind

Saw mills and lumber yards along the route. On the way to Zweisimmen, we passed a place that produces charcoal. You have to burn wood in a low oxygen environment until all the water and impurities are gone.

The train meanders its way down to Gstaad.

Gstaad is known as a major ski resort and a popular destination amongst high society and the international jet set. The winter campus of the Institut Le Rosey is located in Gstaad.

"Institut Le Rosey, commonly referred to as Le Rosey or simply Rosey, is a private boarding school in Rolle, Switzerland. Founded in 1880 by Paul-Émile Carnal on the site of the 14th-century Château du Rosey in the town of Rolle in the canton of Vaud, it is among the oldest boarding schools in Switzerland and one of the most prestigious and expensive schools in the world, for which it is known as the "School of Kings".

The school also owns a campus in the ski resort village of Gstaad to where the student body, faculty, and staff move during the months of January through March. "

Gstaad has a population of about 9,200.

Yes, it has its own runway

Beautiful flowers in Gstaad

When people think of Switzerland, chalets come to mind.

I miss my Izzy and Jellie Beanie but I know the girls at Hopi are taking excellent care of them.

From Zweisimmen to Gruyères to Fribourg you see so many cow, fields of corn, and grass that will be cut and baled for the cows to eat in winter.

Switched trains in Montbovon to Gruyères.

Getting ready for winter

"The medieval village of Gruyères, an important tourist location in the upper valley of the Saane/Sarine River. The village gives its name to Gruyère cheese. The medieval village is located at the top of 82-meter(269 ft) high hill overlooking the Saane Valley and the Lake of Gruyère. Gruyères is 810 m (2,660 ft) above sea level, 4.5 km (2.8 mi) south-south-east of the district capital Bulle. The historical village is placed on top of an isolated hill north of the alps, in the foothills of Mount Moulson. It is also the location where the Saane River (French name: Sarine) leaves the Fribourg Alps.

Gruyères has a population of 2,052. Gruyères has always been a rural village. Agricultural products from the surrounding area were processed and brought to the market here. Formerly, the focus was on trading cheese and small and big animals. There were several mills and sawmills and since the 18th century a gunpowder factory. Until the beginning of the 20th century, straw-twisting was also rather important.

Agriculture is still specialized in milk production and cattle-breeding. It delivers raw materials for the cheese production and meat treating. Most important is Gruyère cheese. Forestry is also a factor, but tillage is less applied. In the secondary sector, there are cabinetmaking, precision mechanics and craftworks. Services has a lot of jobs to offer in gastronomics and hotels. The villages of Epagny and Pringy have in the last years become a living place for commuters, mostly working in the town of Bulle.

Gruyères stands in the midst of the Fribourg green pre-Alpine foothills. The castle towers above the medieval town. Gruerius, the legendary founder of Gruyères, captured a crane (in French: “grue”) and chose it as his heraldic animal, inspiring the name Gruyères. Despite the importance of the House of Gruyères, its beginnings remain quite mysterious. Gruyères is first mentioned around 1138-39 as de Grueri. The village developed beneath the castle, which the Count of Gruyere had built on top of the hill, to control the upper Saanen valley. By 1195-96 it became a market town with a central street and city walls. The town developed separately of the castle. In 1397 Count Rudolph IV of Gruyères confirmed an older town charter that was based on the model of Moudon.

During the Thirty year's War, nuns from the St. Bernard and the Visitation Order fled from Besançon and Dole to settle in Gruyères. The latter remained in town between 1639 and 1651 and conducted a private school. Starting in the 15th century a primary school opened in town which was open mainly to boys. A secondary school opened in town in the 20th century, but it moved in 1973 to Bulle. Gruyères had a plague house which was first mentioned in 1341. The town's hospital was founded in the mid-15th century and remained in operation until the second half of the 19th century. One side of the hospital building housed the primary school until 1988 and was then renovated into a nursing home. Between 1891 and 1925 the Ingenbohl sisters ran the Deaf and Dumb Institute of Saint-Joseph in Gruyères. In 1925 it moved to Fribourg.

Gruyère cheese is an important factor in supporting the tourist trade in the region. A major tourist attraction is the medieval village of Gruyères with its castle, containing a regional museum and an arts museum. There are cultural activities in the castle (concerts, theater). There is a cheese factory in Pringy which is open to visitors. Nearby is Mont Moléson, a mountain suitable for climbing, or for the less athletic there is a cablecar to the summit which was rebuilt in 1998. The resort town Moléson-Village caters for both summer and winter tourism.

In 1998, Swiss surrealist painter, sculptor and set designer HR Giger acquired the Saint-Germain Castle and it now houses the H. R. Giger Museum, a permanent repository of his work and is a popular tourist destination. It was Giger who designed the horrific fantasy figures for the Hollywood film "Alien". The museum houses the artist's most important pictures and sculptures from 1960 to the present day, and there is also an HR Giger bar. It was Giger who designed the horrific fantasy figures for the Hollywood film "Alien".

Next to this, there is a museum holding antiquities from Tibet.

The peaceful scenery of the Gruyère region, with the Lake of Gruyère – one of the finest artificial lakes in Switzerland – is home to the black and white Fribourg cows which provide the milk for the strongly flavored Gruyère cheese. In the middle of this picture postcard scenery, nestling between the slopes of the Moléson and the Dent du Chamois, rises the medieval, traffic-free little village of Gruyères, with its castle, surrounded by a fortified wall.

We have seen so many bee hives along the tracks.

An important part in the picturesque overall scene in the little town is played by the several restaurants serving specialities from the Gruyère region: fondue, raclette and, especially, desserts made with the excellent Gruyère double cream. In the modern show cheesery at Gruyères you can see how the tasty Gruyère cheese is made.

The Moléson skiing area (2003 m) is the largest skiing area in the Fribourg region. The eight lifts and 35 km of pistes offer slopes to suit all the family. The gondola lift in Charmey takes skiers up to the Vounetz (1627 m), and then you can recover afterwards in the water playgrounds. Not far from Gruyères there are also the winter sports areas of La Berra, Charmey and Jaun.

The idyllic landscape of the Gruyère region and the increasingly wild valley towards the Jaun Pass present a paradise for hikers and mountain bikers. A themed trail lets visitors discover the world of Alpine cheesemaking, linking the modern cheese dairy in Pringy-Gruyères with the Alpine dairy in Moléson-Village. Meanwhile, the counts' trail connects Gruyères and Montbovon, a route along which cheese was first exported."

Had a late lunch at the Hôtel de Ville. It is our favorite restaurant when we come here. Food and service is great.

Michael and I always have the Raclette. Stinky when cold but mild when melted. Potatoes, bread, gherkins, and pickled onions are so tasty when the melted cheese oozes on top. With eating so much cheese, we had to have wine with the Raclette.

La Tour de Treme is one village over. The wine complimented the cheese.

Michael likes to eat inside. By law, there is no smoking inside while smoking is allowed outside.

We shared that piece and another. The waitress wanted to give us another one but we had our fill.

Wanted the dessert of fresh raspberries and Gruyères double cream but they ran out of it. Oh well, there will be another time.

I found a cute shop that sells beautiful tablecloths, pillows, aprons, clothes, unique little gifts, etc. It is called Au Filet de Gruyères. They will soon be selling their products on the Internet in the US. Very nice and helpful people. I have passed by this shop for years but never stopped. I may have found another place to go shopping.

Michael and I haven’t been in the castle for years, so it was fun to go through it again. Inside the 13th century castle is a museum covering eight centuries of the architecture, history and culture of the region.

I will share a few rooms with you.

The composer Franz Liszt even played on this piano. "Franz Liszt was the greatest piano virtuoso of his time. He was the first to give complete solo recitals as a pianist. He was a composer of enormous originality, extending harmonic language and anticipating the atonal music of the 20th century. Technically the most difficult composers would have to be Liszt and Rachmaninoff."

They must be conducting an art class. Great inspiration.

The chapel

View of the surrounding area

An airfield for gliders is close by.

Heading back to Unterseen

Passed the Nespresso plant in Romont. Another plant is in Avenches.

We took the train from Gruyères to Bulle. Changed trains in Bulle and we went to Fribourg. Changed trains and went from Fribourg to Bern. Finally, changed trains in Bern and went back to Interlaken West.

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