The Retirees go Abroad – All aboard The Chocolate Train

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The weather has been kind. Wednesday after an exciting day on the glacier we were treated to a lovely sunset over Lake Geneva. The promise of a fine day for tomorrow.

We enjoy the vineyard and know we will miss this place when it is time to go.

It’s an early start to shower have breakfast and get prepared to be in Montreux by 8.30 am even though Montreux is only 4 minutes by train from Villeneuve. We make the station ahead of time but this allows us to double check that we get the correct train. At Montruex we find the office of Golden Pass and collect our tickets. All aboard. The rain snakes its way out of Montreux giving spectacular views of the town and its lake.

As we travel along the countryside surprises us with its beauty and ruggedness. Photography is difficult because of the reflections in the windows.

Finally we reach Cailler. Cailler is a Swiss chocolate brand. It was founded by François-Louis Cailler in 1819 and bought by Nestlé in 1929 when the company fell on hard times during the Depression. The tour of the factory tells the story of cocoa how it was found by the Aztecs stolen by Cortez and introduced to Spain and then Europe. The Dominican order opposed it as sinful whilst the Franciscans approved of it for consumption even during Lent. By 1819 Louis Cailler had developed the chocolate block we know today and he made a fortune and a factory at Broc (where the tour is conducted) but he never exported. It was Nestle that had the international contacts hence the buyout in 1929. You won’t find Cailler in Australia which is a damned shame as it is beautiful chocolate.

After the history you go to a tasting room where through an audio guide you hear about the Nestle programme for helping indigenous women in Africa become self-sufficient and secure the resource (Coca beans) for Nestle. You hear about the nut growers and the Dairymen who are all part of the Cailler team and you get to taste the nuts and the chocolates – as much as you can eat provided you don’t try to leave with any uneaten.

After the gift shop we needed a cup of coffee/tea to wash away the taste of the chocolate. But the allure of the gift shop was hard to resist so we bought 3 bars of milk chocolate – we are pensioners and have to watch the pennies.

The tour finished and our taste for chocolate slaked we board a bus and travel to the villages of Gruyere. The village is most famous to us as the name of a type of cheese principally associated with fondue dining. But it started as the name of the village that was given to the local cheese. Dominated by its chateau the village is a reminder of the violent times of the past when it was necessary to have a fortified place to live and work. There are many remnants of this history apparent in the village. Apart from the modern entry there are a number of fortified gates around the village and two walls an outer and an inner wall before reaching the chateau.

The village church is remarkably large and well maintained but it also is surrounded by earlier fortifications

There are two museums in the village; a Tibetan museum and the HR Giger Museum. The Giger museum is a strange futuristic fantasy art museum and there is an adjoining café which takes its theme from the movie “Alien”. We had lunch there and even that was alien so far as Kerry was concerned

However the tour allowed us three hours at the village where two was plenty. After the village we returned to the bus and travelled literally down the hill to the cheese factory. Well after the Cailler tour the cheese factory was never in the hunt. We got the story of how cheese was made and stored and its different vintages plus the obligatory samples and gift shop but not as interesting or tasty as Cailler. Perhaps the most interesting was the cheese turning robot that spends its life going up and down the aisles of cheese rounds turning them over at the assigned time.

The tour has ended and it is time to board the train and head back to Montreux. Not a very vigorous day but tiring eating all that chocolate.

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