A trip on Switzerland’s Orient Express
Well-rested and ready for the day, we meet for coffee and tea at the newly renovated restaurant of Montreux Youth Hostel on Thursday. We skip breakfast on purpose, as there are a few sweet treats awaiting us today.
I find it particularly difficult because my highlight at the youth hostel is always the extensive breakfast buffet.
We check out, say goodbye to Lucas, the Hostel Manager, and his team before taking the bus to Montreux station. Mani and the chocolate train team are already waiting for us. Yes, that’s right – today we get to test the chocolate train, a dream of every child, chocolate lover and anyone who’s ever wanted to feel like Charlie. Today we are embarking on the journey without Mani’s company. Our guide gives us all the information we need and off we go. We start our journey on the Belle Époque train, also known as Switzerland’s Orient Express. Wow – the train is so beautiful and the seats are so comfortable that you could stay seated for hours.
From milk to cheese
On the journey from Montreux to Montbovon, we’re served a delicious chocolate roll and coffee. Enjoying the view, we savour the ride and our breakfast. In Montbovon we change to the bus, which takes us to La Maison du Gruyère. Here we learn about the production of the world-famous Gruyère cheese in an interactive way. Did you know that the be-all and end-all of a good cheese is the quality of the milk? In addition to cheese making, we learn about the exciting history of Gruyère. After the tour, we check out the shop and stock up on cheese.
Lunch break in the charming old town
Our journey continues. After a short bus ride, we reach the small, charming old town of Gruyères. We’ve never been here before and are already fans before we really enter the old town. We stroll through the alleys and marvel at the beautiful buildings and the castle. Here you have the option to make a detour to the castle – the entrance fee is not included in the experience. After the walk, we begin our search for a restaurant and quickly find what we are looking for. There are tons and the speciality is, of course, fondue. We have a tasty salad, because the thermometer reads: «too hot for fondue.»
Off to the Land of Plenty
Replenished, it’s back to our coach and time to wait for now. Punctuality isn’t necessarily a given in other cultures. The journey continues to Broc. This is where Cailler’s famous chocolate factory is located. The company was founded over 200 years ago by François-Louis Cailler. We learn the whole story on the tour of the museum.
We go from room to room, getting exciting information from our audio guide. After each short sequence, the door to the next room opens. Wow, museum takes on a whole new meaning here. After the tour, we’re standing in a mini version of the production halls and learn how chocolate is made. Shortly afterwards, we arrive in the land of plenty, where you can taste-test chocolate. We test our way through the huge offering until we feel sick and have to stop.
In the shop we buy one or two souvenirs for our friends and head home. The group travels back to Montreux by bus, Ricarda and I head straight back to Zurich.