I wasn't planning on going anywhere far... but how could I turn down a paid trip to Switzerland? I was kind of bummed that my friend Allie couldn't come, because she'd been wanting to go on this trip for so long. At least when we do go, then I'll know where to take her.
Our morning started very early. I had worked the night before, and had gotten into bed at 10PM just to wake up at 2AM to start getting ready. We had to be at the bus by 3:30 AM, and it would be a 5.5 hour journey to our first tour destination, The Cailler Chocolate Factory. German law required our bus to stop at the four hour mark, after we had crossed into Switzerland. The rest stop we were at was extremely nice. It was like a mini-shopping mall. Everything inside was very overpriced, so we just decided to grab coffee, and I grabbed my traditional postcard for my collection. From the border, it was about 1.5 hours to Gruyere. I was a bit dismayed with the weather. The rain was pouring and the clouds covered up the view of the surrounding Alps, but we didn't think of this while we were in the chocolate factory
Maison Cailler - Rue Jules Bellet 7, 1636 Broc, Switzerland - When we got there, we were able to skip the line. If you plan to go, try to see if you can purchase tickets online to save your self some trouble from standing outside. When you enter, there's a giant section of chocolate to the right for purchase. Don't get too distracted that you don't look up. Giant chocolate decorations were hanging from the ceiling, and the scent of chocolate overpowered the room. The tour has an audio guide available for your language convenience, but if you travel in a group, then each room is spoken in a certain language. The tour is a timed tour. You move through different rooms, a short history about chocolate it said accompanied by moving pieces in the room, and then the door opens to the next section. This made it easier to get through the Maison without getting too distracted.
Towards the end of the tour, they have a room where you can see, touch, smell, and even taste the ingredients being used. Just make sure you're grabbing from the correct bin when you're trying the ingredients. You don't want to eat something everyone hands have been on! There's a clear wall separating the tactile room and the factory. You can actually watch small chocolates be made, and at the end of the line, you can grab a sample! Enjoying your piece of chocolate from start to finish. Then comes a long hallway, that will tempt you with chocolate at the beginning. It'll instruct you to savor the chocolate by first looking at it, smelling it, biting it but not swallowing it, letting it melt, and then finally enjoying it how chocolate should be enjoyed - or devoured for that matter.
You're led into a small room with trays of different chocolates. If you want to try a chocolate twice, try it twice. You don't get to go back around for seconds. There are two different rooms for tasting. One room is already prepared chocolate, and the second room is where you'll see chefs preparing the chocolate in different ways - like French macarons... French macarons I didn't get to taste. So if you're on a guided tour, make sure you have ample time to indulge in the sweet, chocolate goodness.
La Maison du Gruyère (Fromagerie) - Place de la Gare 3, 1663 Pringy-Gruyères, Switzerland - A trip to Switzerland wouldn't be complete if we didn't go indulge in salty, cheesy goodness. (Today was a great day for the salty & sweet combination, + wine). This fromagerie was only 10 minutes away from the chocolate factory by bus. It was a lot smaller than I thought it was going to be, but when we went inside it seemed like it was so much bigger. The tour wasn't long either. They gave you an audio guide, and the character of the guide was very funny to listen to. It walks you through the different ingredients used to make Gruyere cheese. You can smell the ingredients, some smelled great, and some made me feel like I needed to throw up. The second half of the tour, you could see the factory.
Did you know that it takes 400 L of milk to create one 35 kg round of Gruyere cheese? Can you imagine having to try and make a batch of 20 rounds? That's a lot of milk! The cheese is turned in these large barrels for quite some time, and then poured into containers where they're shaped and turned every... 16 hours I think? They get run through a salt bath, and then are placed on shelves. I was able to see the robot they use to turn the cheese. It goes up and down the aisles and spins and turns the cheese so everything is... even? I don't know. They can tell if the cheese is done by the elasticity and the "bounce back" of it. It's really interesting...
The only thing was the cheese tasting was only given in a small packet of cheese that had 3 different ages of Gruyère. I ended up buying two slices of cheese because it was so good. I would've liked it more if it were like the chocolate factory, and you lined up in a room full of cheese.
We ate brunch there, kind of. I had a sorbet, my mom had leek soup, and my aunt had a mixed salad. Everything there was very overpriced, and everything was covered in cheese. The food was pretty good, but not good enough to spend hundreds of Swiss Francs on. After our snack, we ventured into the town to explore.