October 23, 2007

10/23/07 Bern Switzerland

Wunnewil Switzerland

Well, today Daniel thought he would take to two of the 'must see' things when in Switzerland: visit a chocolate factory and a cheese factory. Sounds good to me, especially if they have samples. [smile] So, we drove to the French-speaking part of Switzerland, to the town of Broc to visit the Cailler-Chocolate factory.

"François-Louis Cailler (1796 – 1852) was the first Swiss producer of chocolate. After he spent four years in Turin Italy learning how to make chocolate, he opened his first Swiss factory 1918. His great innovation was the development of a smooth chocolate that could be formed into bars. In 1875, Daniel Peter, Cailler's son-in-law, had the idea of combining the chocolate with his neighbor Henri Nestlé's condensed milk to make milk chocolate. Cailler was acquired by Nestlé, which had become a manufacturing giant, in 1929." from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The older entrance to the factory.

Most of the tour was a great audiovisual room that had all the sights and sounds of the factory, with a detail only a camera could capture. It was amazing to see it all work, especially the robotic arms that loaded the assorted chocolates in their boxes. And the highlight was the tasting room, which had all the samples you could eat. Mmmm.

As we entered the factory, the sun was poking through the clouds, but as we left, the clouds had reclaimed all the sky above. From Broc, we then drove to the Gruyère Cheese factory, west of Bern.

"Gruyère is a hard yellow cheese made from cow's milk, named after the town of Gruyères. Gruyère is sweet but slightly salty, with a flavor that varies widely with age. It is often described as creamy and nutty when young, becoming with age more assertive, earthy, and complex. When fully aged (five months to a year) it tends to have small holes and cracks which impart a slightly grainy mouth feel. To make an 80 kg (176 lb) round of Gruyère cheese, about 800 liters (211 gallons) of milk is used." from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

They make the cheese rounds every day

With the price of admission, you were given three samples of cheese at various ages. The tour said they get milk from 65 farms from this area of Switzerland. They claim the flavor is unique because of the types of grasses the cows feed on, including the wildflowers that dot the landscape. After that, we headed into the town of Gruyère.

Gruyère, Switzerland

View of the church from the chateau

And from the quiet of the country, we then headed into the 'big city' of Fribourg. With everything built compactly in the bend of the Saane/Sarine river, it seemed larger than it's 33,000 inhabitants. We walked around the historic Old City and stopped in the Gothic Cathedral of Saint Nicholas.

Cathedral of Saint Nicholas

Beautiful stained glass inside

Climb the 368 steps to the top of the 243' high tower

Well, I'm not sure about Daniel, but all this sight seeing had me pretty hungry. The plan for this evening was to meet Ariane and the children at some other friends of mine, Thomas and Rahel that lived in Köniz, which is practically in Bern. I met Thomas and Rahel biking in New Zealand last year. Since then, they have gotten married and now have a little girl, Hannah. I think both couples had a great time. While everyone was getting to know each other, Rahel was teaching me how to melt the cheese to make fondue. Looked pretty good.

Everyone 'Smile'

Yes, Jim ate until he was stuffed