As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and Lausanne was the last leg of our Switzerland trip before we completed our winter holidays for 2014. We made a decision to use Lausanne as our base, from which we would travel to visit the surrounding regions: Gruyères, Montreux and Martigny.
We found a nice cosy country-side house on Airbnb. As it was located in the country-side, the roads were not very well lit, rather bumpy and the exact location wasn't easily found on the maps. To add to the challenge, we were driving at night in pitch darkness. We were literally the light shining in the darkness! After ending up in a few wrong locations, some detours and off-road driving, we completed our drive from Geneva and arrived at our country home for the next 3 nights.
Our Airbnb host, Corinne, is a semi-retired midwife and while cooking our dinner for the night that we arrived, we got to know her and her other longer-term tenants. One of them is a midwife-in-training who's understudying Corinne. We learnt from them that it's very common to do home delivery without the need for a gynaecologist. Even when deliveries are done in a hospital, a midwife would suffice. We have always been interested in having home birth or water birth and so, it was intriguing conversation for us. Of course these situations are for low risk pregnancies.
Our country-side home and 4WD Mitsubishi
The next day, we headed out to the city of Gruyères. It's a lovely, quaint old medieval town, which was quiet, sparsely populated and really brings you back in time. We had our lunch at La Maison du Gruyère, the cheese factory where the Gruyère cheese is made and distributed globally. We literally had a cheese overdose as we ordered a cheese fondue and a cheese risotto. I think by the end of the lunch, our blood colour changed from red to yellow!
Us with an overdose of cheese dishes
Cheese fondue in which we dipped bread & potatoes into.
Ingredients in our risotto - Cheese, cheese, cheese & just more cheese.
After filling our tummies to overflow with cheese, we took a quick tour to learn about the process of producing Gruyère cheese & the cost of the tour included a sample of Gruyère cheese that have aged over different months. We ended the tour at the souvenir shop and bought ourselves a few blocks of Gruyère cheese back to Singapore. I couldn't wait to get back and try out the cheese risotto with legit Swiss made cheese!
Gruyère cheese left to mature in the affinage cellar.
This was the actual size of a round of Gruyère cheese. HUGE!
After we've had our fill of cheese for the day (month perhaps...), we set off for the Castle of Gruyères, which was located very close to the Gruyère cheese factory, approximately a 5-8 mins drive away. To get from the carpark to the castle, we took a leisure walk through the medieval town of Gruyères and it was just so pleasurable to take in the beautiful sights of the mountains which formed the backdrop.
Entrance of the medieval town to get to the castle
Love the cobblestone walkway. The castle is just behind us!
The tour around the Castle of Gruyères took us about 30 mins, walking through the rooms and looking out of the windows, we were treated with unblocked views of the mountains. We ended off the tour with a mandatory selfie at the lawn of the castle, one could imagine walks taken by those who lived in the castle just to enjoy this amazing view all those years ago!
There are quite a number of things Switzerland is pretty known for: Top quality swiss-made watches, Swiss army knives, all sorts of cheeses and CHOCOLATES - an all-time favourite snack & perk-me-up. We HAD TO make a trip to Maison Cailler - The Swiss Chocolate Factory before we could end off our first day.
We managed to make it in time to catch the last tour for the day and was thoroughly entertained by the interactive tour through the chocolate factory. The tour brought us through the history of Cailler as well as allowed us to take a look at the actual process of creating the different types of chocolate. There is a free chocolate tasting session included and when I came to the end of a factory line, I thought this was it (See the photo below). We each took 2-3 pieces and walked on, thinking that's the end of the tour.
These chocolates were fresh from the factory line, just behind me.
We were certainly pleasantly surprised when we came to this last stop, where there was a huge counter filled with 10-15 kinds of Cailler's most popular chocolate and that was the real deal! We could have as many pieces of each kind of chocolate as we would like and we were in chocolate heaven. I would say the tour itself was value for money simply for the fact that we could have a chocolate "buffet" to end off the tour. Both of us walked out happy and overdosed, once again, this time with chocolate. Needless to say, we were filled with happy hormones for the day.
Our chocolate spoils for the day.
Before we left, we bought S$200 worth of chocolates to bring them back as souvenirs and Kenneth kept saying he couldn't believe we actually spent so much money on just chocolates and cheese alone. What can I say, how could we go all the way to Switzerland and not buy them for our loved ones back home? Well, that brought us to the end of Day 2 in Lausanne.
Statue of Freddie Mercury - Singer of Queen - at Montreux
On our last full day in Lausanne, we decided to just drive around and explore the Montreux & Martigny region. First stop was Montreux, where we had a nice lunch at an Italian restaurant before taking a walk around the city centre. We saw the 3-meter statue of former Queen Singer, Freddie Mercury facing the lake near his home and recording studios. The overcast skies & light drizzle gave a more somber feeling but we enjoyed the walk nonetheless.
One would say it was pretty romantic for us to walk hand in hand in the rain, and it was, but it was also getting to be quite cold so we headed back to the car and took to the roads to go check out the St. Bernard Museum.
Saint. Bernard looking a little down, maybe because of the wet weather.
The entry to the St. Bernard museum included an informative tour where we could read up on the history of this special breed of dog as well as a chance to see these big, friendly giants in real life. We were blessed to have been able to see some puppies that were only about 2-3 months old then. One of the St. Bernards was lying on a bench (looking kinda bored actually) while enthusiastic kids (and adults like myself) were happily stroking him and snapping photos away on our cameras and phones. We had some fun looking at the adorable dog but I don't think it was worth the entrance fee (12CHF/~S$18) we had paid.
The MOST AMAZING experience of soaking in a hot pool with the views & cold temperatures.
After a very fruitful but cold & rainy day, we decided to end off our trip by going for an outdoor hot pool experience. Our host recommended a very beautiful place to us - Les Bains d'Ovronnaz and it was located on the top of a mountain. It seems only the locals knew about that place and the lady at the customer service counter didn't speak English at all, so we had a bit of trouble telling her we wanted to get tickets for 2 of us to use the pools.
So after we managed to buy the tickets, we went in and changed into our swimwear and explored the 3 different pools available for us. There are 2 outdoor pools and the water temperature was about 30-36 degrees while the air temperature was about -2 degrees! What an amazing experience and to top it off, we were surrounded by snow capped mountains and there was even a trickle of snow flakes falling while we were soaking in the pool. I think it was the perfect way to end off a very wonderful winter vacation!
There was a jacuzzi in one of the pools and it was one of my favourite part to be at.
After changing up, the sky had turned totally dark & I was a little concerned about the drive down the mountain without much street lights. The roads were very narrow with many twists & turns, slippery because of the snow that had melted, at times, we were driving very near the edge of the mountain and it was pitch black 90% of the time. Thank God Kenneth was a very steady & good driver, the whole time I was just sitting on the passenger seat and praying that we would get back safe & sound.
Which we did! After a long and fruitful day, we ended the last night in Lausanne (And Switzerland) cooking one last pasta dish and packing up our luggage for our flight the next day. We had no regrets and loved every second of our trip, because of the beautiful places & people we had met but I think the main reason is because we had each other to share & make these memories with.
We hope our travel blog has inspired you to visit these beautiful places & may you have as great a time as we both did! Au revoir!
You can read more on our full Switzerland trip and overall itinerary here.
Date of travel: Jan 2015
Flickr Lausanne Photos
Public Trains (SBB)
Swiss Travel Pass