We arrived in Switzerland from Lyon and we were very happy to see a familiar face running up to us at the Lausanne train station. It is coming up to three months on the road and we were excited to be spending a few days with our good friend Johan.
Our Swiss adventure began right away as we piled our luggage into Johan’s car and headed straight to a local restaurant for traditional Swiss food. Sitting in a cosy corner surrounded by thick wooden tables, listening to the now familiar French language spoke with a warm, friendly Swiss accent, I had a feeling that this weekend was going to be something special. Our charismatic, multilingual waiter brought us our meals: dry aged ham with strong cheese melted over a crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, potato rösti. It was delicious, hearty food accompanied by a crisp and light Swiss white wine.
Saturday morning we woke to a beautifully prepared breakfast on the balcony with panoramic views of the mountains surrounding the lakeside city of Lausanne.
It was a surreal moment, walking out into the crisp air and seeing the view that almost appeared to be a artificial backdrop. We headed into the centre of Lausanne to meander through the winding, cobblestone streets that were alive with the Saturday markets.
Johan and his girlfriend Chloé expertly led us around the streets and up an old wooden staircase that led to The Cathedral of Notre Dame of Lausanne, an old church with amazing views of the city below.
Throughout lunch I couldn’t help constantly asking silly questions (for example, if the President wants to deliver a speech, what language does he/she use? Or, you are in a shop in the German speaking part, can you communicate at the checkout?) trying to get my head around a country with three national languages. The day ended with an apéritif, dinner and a taste of the lively Lausanne nightlife.
Sunday in Switzerland was by far the highlight. Johan and Chloé told us only two things: to wear warm clothes and runners. We happily allowed ourselves to be kidnapped, as the excitement and anticipation built as we jumped on the highway and headed north through absolute pristine countryside. Our ears started to pop and equalise as we ascended finally reaching our destination, the base of Moléson, a mountain that overlooks the region of Gruyères. We took two cable carts up the face of the 2000 metre high mountain. The views were simply specular.
We found a table looking out onto the valleys and ordered the most decadent fondue, served with small boiled potatoes (making it completely gluten free, of course). High above Switzerland, amongst the mountains of lush green shrub, were totally captivated by the moment. Which was a definite top five moment of our travels.
To complete our magic moment high in the Swiss mountains, we were treated to a mini alphorn concert. Perfection.
With our bellies filled with golden, gooey cheese, we began our decent, sharing the road with hikers, rock climbers and Chloé’s little white dog, Joy.
Still on a high (from the beautiful scenery and from drinking at high altitude), Johan and Chloé had one more surprise up their sleeve. We stopped at The Castle of Gruyères for a dessert that we were convinced we could not fit but was way too irresistible to refuse. A local treat of meringue smothered in fresh double cream from the mountains. Yum! Topping off an incredible weekend with great friends.
There is Europe, and then there is Switzerland.