From the City that Never Sleeps to a City of Cheese

I like food but HATE the term foodie with the fire of a thousand suns. It’s pretentious as all hell. I just like to eat, and sometimes I like to eat fancy food…and sometimes I just like to have a taco.

BUT I was super excited to try all this amazing European food. You know, French Women Don’t Get Fat and all that.

Grueye was floated as an idea, and I think my eyes immediately widened in excitement.

YES. YES. YES. I love cheese, and who does cheese better than the French and Swiss? (Maybe the Italians, but I will weigh back in on that after this weekend.)

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The Swiss countryside seriously looks like it’s out of a storybook. HOW CUTE IS THAT HOUSE?

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YES YES YES.

We started at La Maison du Gruyere and bought tickets for both the castle and the cheese factory.

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The medieval castle was built in 1270, restored in the 1800s and opened as a museum in 1938.

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Bo, Ashley’s husband, has been an awesome tour guide/travel buddy all week.

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There have been so many cool little views like this—you walk down a hallway, through some doors into some majestic scene.

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TO THE GRUYERE ROOM! Remind when I buy my first house that I’d like a Gruyere room.

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How is this real life?!

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Storybook downtown. Sad side note: I saw like 5 little kids fall from running too fast down the street :/

After lunch, we went to the Maison du Gruyere. UNE FROMAGERIE! I was really excited about it, but it honestly ended up being a bit underwhelming.

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But they had a whole cheese cave, so there’s not too much to complain about. I was hoping we’d get to walk through it, but this is the closest I got. Crazy things we learned: the dairy cows in this region eat 100 kilograms a day of grass and drink 85 liters of water per day to create 25 liters of milk a day.

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You ate a whole wheel of cheese? I’m not even mad. I’m impressed.

But the highlight of the day? THE CAILLER CHOCOLATE FACTORY. So, yes, I went to a cheese factory AND a chocolate factory in the same day.

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The tour was split into A HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE at the beginning (which felt really Disney World-like but was super informative), a walk through the actual factory to see the magic being made, and it finally ended in a tasting room where we could eat as much chocolate as we wanted. My favorite was a dark chocolate filled with ganache. Chocolate on chocolate action? Hell yeah.

Tuesday, we went to Cote du Rhone and drove up through wine country, and we’re about to leave for Italy for a truffle festival and wine tour. So, yes, I am having one of the best trips of my life.

Best trip of your life? What kind of food are you dying to travel for?

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Disembarking from a Transatlantic Flight and Hiking 12 Miles

HELLO FROM GENEVA!

After a harrowing trip to the airport (insane amounts of traffic, being stuck in the Holland Tunnel due to an accident), I had an incredibly smooth flight over and landed in Geneva yesterday morning around 7:45am to big hugs from Ashley and Bo.

Much of our itinerary had been up in the air other than a truffle festival next weekend due to my inability to commit, but I knew that the plan was to drop my stuff at their apartment and head out for a hike. I don’t handle jet lag terribly well, so I was a bit nervous about this plan but knew that moving after a long overnight flight would be good for me.

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The plan was to head to Chamonix, France and hike to Lac Blanc. Ashley had hiked to Lac Blanc before and had taken the La Flégère lift to about halfway up and then hiked the rest of the way up. When Ashley did this hike last time, it was about 3 hours. Even that, I was a bit apprehensive about, but I soldiered on. Well, the gondola was closed, so instead we just started from the bottom…

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This was the view from about halfway up, once we were above the tree line.

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BRB, just gonna nap here.

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When we left, it felt pretty chilly, so I was wearing long pants, a long-sleeved tech tee and a jacket. I took off the jacket about 3 minutes into the hike, and maybe an hour in, I was feeling really hot. Ashley was wearing both a tank and this tee, so she literally gave me the shirt off her back, which I was very thankful for.

The plan, as I said, was to hike up to the lake at the top, where Ashley had said there would be food and beer. As the hike got more difficult, we kept saying FOR THE BEER! We’re doing this for the beer! We started passing other hikers and asked about the “refuge” at the top, as it was called, and nobody seemed to think it was open. Welp, let’s just keep hiking…hopefully we can still get water at the top?!

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Just a little shot for scale.

I told Ashley at one point that I was basically composing this post in my head: “I landed from a transatlantic flight, went and hiked a mountain, got pulled way out of my comfort zone, and it was worth it, of course. Also, beer.”

I’m not super afraid of heights, but I’m really really cautious in any situation where I might be in the slightest bit of physical danger. I’ll ski black diamonds, but really slowly. I don’t hike much and was clearly dehydrated from the flight, so it was Strugglebus, Population 1.

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Just some casual ladder climbing in the middle of a mountain, as you do.

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Too much adrenaline to care about jet lag.

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The view was okay?

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I’m not really afraid of heights, but it was a little nauseating looking down at this.

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Little Monopoly houses…

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Ashley’s friend Renaud pointed us to the fastest way down, which included descending at least 10 ladders.

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Yikes.

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Mom, don’t worry. I’ve totally got this.

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THESE DUDES CLIMBED THAT. WHAT?!

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Going up, I was way behind the pack, but coming down, at least for a portion, I was happy to beast it out and get down as quickly (and safely, Mom) as possible.

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7 hours and 12 miles later, I finally got my beer. We went to a cute little bar at the bottom called Le Slalom.

We drove the hour back to Geneva, and I finally got a chance to nap and slept hard.

Today we’re laying kind of low (which is a huge requirement on any vacation for me), but my big agenda for the week includes adventures to Cote du Rhone, Gruyere and a truffle festival. I am in freaking heaven.

What does a good vacation look like to you?

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