Blog entry number 5 is here!
Well the highlights of the last 3 weeks have been my business trip to Malaysia and Singapore (ok, so not the business, but getting to travel in business class ;)) and Donna and I heading to Gruyères (yep, where the cheese comes from!).
So my week in KL and Singapore was great, mainly because Singapore Airlines business class is so comfy, and because it was great to be so close to home. A bit of a bummer to not be able to go all the way back to Perth, but still nice nonetheless. Being able to hear Australian accents around the town and at the airport was also pretty cool and, in a way, comforting too.
So anyway, when I got back from o/s, we headed off to Gruyères, on the recommendation of some of my work mates. I was looking forward to it for two main reasons; One, because it is in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and thus I would get a chance to work on my now somewhat rusty French, and two, because I had been told that I had to have the meringues and double cream that was served there. Now anyone who knows me well knows I love cream, so I was definitely looking forward to getting stuck into that.
We arrived on Friday afternoon after taking a train, a bus, getting off at the wrong stop (which luckily only resulted in an extra 10 minute walk!) and then another little inter-town train to Gruyères station, which is cleverly located next to the main cheese factory, inviting weary, hungry travellers to spill out of the train and straight into the factory for what turned out to be some mighty fine cheese!
Anyway, the train station itself is located at the base of the hill on top of which Gruyères sits, so we had a nice little walk up the hillside to our B&B, which was a little farmhouse just below the main town. It was beautiful, as I think our photos show. The owner, Eliane, is just lovely, and in the following two days I enjoyed chatting with her in French, and Donna and I had fun explaining Boggle to her, which we cracked out in the evenings in the back yard, and which interested her greatly.
The town itself is very quaint, small with just four or five restaurants, a couple of shops, and the main fortress at the peak of the hill, which affords a stunning view across the La Gruyère valley.
Now Gruyères is well-known for its cheese, but what it's not well-known for much outside Switzerland is that it is the site of what is best described as an homage to H.R. Giger, the Swiss surrealist who designed the monsters from the movie 'Alien', amongst other ghoulish Hollywood creatures. So it's quite a funny little town, so quaint and rural, with rows of flower boxes with lovely red flowers and a cobblestone main road, but with this odd museum dedicated to Giger's creations, and a bar whose ceiling is composed of rows of spines and ribs (or at least, cement fashioned into them), and whose chairs are fashioned to look as if they are built of human bones. Nice, huh?
While I got to enjoy using my French almost as soon as I got to Gruyères, I had to wait until dinner that night to sample the meringue-double cream combo I had been recommended, and boy was it worth the wait! Donna, crazily, chose not to have it for dessert, and so missed out on a plateful of the awesome fusion of sweet meringue and not too sweet cream, but I gave her a little taste, which ensured that the next night, when we enjoyed a great raclette, that she ordered meringues and double cream for dessert ;)
Now one of our other big highlights of the weekend was purchasing a genuine cuckoo clock from the Black Forest. Now you may have thought cuckoo clocks come from Switzerland, like all other time pieces, but apparently no, the Black Forest in Germany is the birthplace of the cuckoo clock. We had a great time chatting in English and French with the shopkeeper as we assisted her to try and get the clock we liked to work properly to show us what happened on the hour. Once we got it to work (it was a very complex clock!) we were not disappointed, as we were treated to a grand display of figurine people dancing, chopping wood, waterwheels turning, and of course the obligatory cuckoo bird, well, cuckooing! So needless to say, as impressed as we were, we bought it, and it's now sitting in its box waiting to be unpacked when we move in to our new apartment at the end of this month (as my company paid accommodation is sadly - for my wallet - coming to an end ;))
Oh, that reminds me, last weekend, we picked up basically all of our furniture for the new place, to put in our storage spot under our current apartment, and boy, wasn't that a task and a half! We left the house at 6.30, and 14 HOURS LATER, after taking a ferry ride, travelling on freeways, to all points of the compass around our adopted city picking up vehicles (left hand drive too I might add!), trailers (with dodgy indicators),second hand and new furniture, we finally flopped on our couch at home, absolutely fried! Let's hope the real move is not so crazy! We've already done the smart thing and hired a van for the day, so hopefully that's a good start!
Ok, final thing for this entry - today Donna and I went to the movies to watch Hancock, and were very amused to find that movies in Switzerland have an intermission! Yep , that's right, they stop the movie about halfway through, raise the lights, put on some ads, and give you the opportunity to buy some over-priced cinema refreshments for the second half!
Okey dokey, I think that's about all for now. We're missing all of you guys back in the land of Oz, and hope you're all healthy and happy.
Kai and Donna xo