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Swiss Family Johnson – December 27th Trains, Chocolates, and Boat Rides

After exploring Swiss cities almost exclusively, Sunday December 27th, we switched gears to see some of the stunning scenery and eat some of the sweets that Switzerland is famous for.  We traveled on a scenic train through the foothills of the Alps to the Callier chocolate factory situated among idyllic alpine cow pastures, then took a sunset cruise on a mountain lake near Interlaken.

Our morning was a bit of a scramble to get seven people ready through only two bathrooms and out the door for an 8:50 a.m. train.  Despite the hurried stress, it made me realize that maybe there is an advantage to train travel over car travel: with the trains everyone is forced to get out the door by a certain time, no dawdling over breakfast allowed!  We rode from our apartment to Montreux, then boarded our next train: the Golden Pass, a special scenic sightseeing train. The Golden Pass took us out of Montreux and climbed higher and higher above the city into the foothills of the Alps.  We had amazing views of the lake, dizzying looks down steep cliffs, and even saw some snow in the high elevation.  After a long tunnel we came out to the other side of the mountains and disembarked the train in the small pastoral town of Montbovon.


In Montbovon we transferred to a regional train that would take us to the Callier chocolate factory.  Even though it was just a normal commuter train,  we had lovely views of pastures and mountains as the train wound along a small glacial river.  The cows that produce the milk for Swiss chocolates and cheeses might just be happier than California cows, and Keith may have even been inspired to get some new cowbells for the Johnson steers.

At the factory we had an hour long wait for the tour, so we took the time to eat the lunch we packed for ourselves.  Melissa and I skipped the tour because we had already done it twice, but everyone else that went said they enjoyed it.  Kyle even made sure to tell everyone not to touch the walls in a part of the tour that required a short elevator ride.

With bellies full of chocolate, we boarded another train for our next destination, Spiez.  Spiez sits on lake Thunersee, near Interlaken, and was surrounded with snow capped mountains.  After flying, driving, and riding trains, we figured we needed to add in one more mode of transportation, and decided to take a cruise from Spiez to Thun.


In Spiez we had to walk down a steep slippery, frost covered hill to find the harbor.  Kyle was quite vocal about wanting to go skiing, but unfortunately we didn’t quite have the time on this trip, so taking turns sliding down the hill with Bjorn turned out to be his consolation prize.  Once we slid all the way down to the harbor, Kyle and Keith found some more ducks and geese to harass and feed, much to the dismay of the locals that were watching!  Kyle also made fast friends with a few stray cats.  This may not have been the kind of wildlife Kyle is used to encountering in Northern Minnesota.

The boat we took was an old paddle steamer type boat, with a very crowded interior dedicated to eating and drinking.  While all the tables and chairs in the heated interior were taken, there was plenty of room outside on the deck.  Despite the wind and the cold, we all huddled together to watch the sunset behind the mountains.

It was a busy day, and after being out in the cold, the train ride home proved to be a little too much for Keith, and he had a short nap (the beer had nothing to do with it!). For dinner we all warmed up with some of Janell’s chicken noodle soup, grilled cheese, and a bit of leftover lasagna.  We all spent the evening relaxing and chatting and getting ready for our last day of travel – a trip into France to see Mont Blanc up close.

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