Journey to Gruyéres
More than Cheese
In September 2006, Zeynep and I visited Geneva. It was for business purpose, but we found the opportunity to make a one-day trip to Gruyéres.
During our 10 days trip to Geneva, we walked all around the city in the evenings and we had just one free Sunday.
We looked ways to make the most of it. Of course, in Switzerland, you have hundreds of options for this one-day trip.
We chose this medieval town.
First a little bit of Geneva
I'd heard a lot of things about the city before I visited Geneva. It was called "The smallest of the big capitals" in a brochure.
Geneva is worth visiting for many reasons. First of all, this place is a small metropolis that you can find nearly everything. For example food. There are many fabulous restaurants in which you can taste delicious food from all around the world. But restaurants are quite expensive. The two persons dinner with wine costs at least 50 Swiss Francs (approximately 60 USD).
But wine is quite cheap and it's very good. You should taste genuine Geneva wine.
The city is surrounded by mountains separating French land from Switzerland.
Geneva is a heaven for tram lovers. All around the city, you can travel with tram.
All kinds of trams are available; modern, classical. Also there are trolleys and buses. So there's no such a traffic jam problem, except Saturdays.
The Magnificent Journey to Gruyéres
You can go to Gruyéres by various ways, but the best way is railroad.
From Montreux, you can take train for Gruyéres. In fact, this line from Montreux, takes you to some special locations. For Gruyéres you change trains in Montbovon. The line goes directly to Gstaat. You may remember Gstaat from the movie, "The Return of the Pink Panther".
Anyway, we changed trains in Montbovon. Don't forget to change trains there, nobody reminds you.
The line from Montreux to montbovon was incredible. You climb the mountain starting from the lake Léman. You climb and climb, then you pass from narrow valleys, beautiful cliffs, bridges, tunnels. As a train lover. It was my one of most happiest hour.
You'll find videos of this magnificent journey at the bottom of this page. Their quality is not perfect but they'll give the essence of this wonderful journey.
I've spent hours playing Transport Tycoon, laying tracks for railroad transport. And Railroad Tycoon of course. I love playing railroad games. All railroad games include Swiss Alps scenarios. After seeing the real thing, I can appreciate the beauty of the railroad system in Switzerland.
The train from Montbovon to Gruyéres was much like a bus going on rails, or a tram travelling in country. It was so lightweight, composed of two cars. The train does not stop at every station: you should press the stop button if you want to get out. If you wait in the station, also you should press the button.
The travel to Gruyéres was also beautiful, passing through the green fields and quite villages.
You reach to Gruyéres after a 30 minutes train ride from Montbovon.
The medieval town, Gruyéres
First of all, there are lots of things you can do in Gruyéres. Visiting the medieval town is one of them. For example, you can climb to mountains for skiing, or just for trekking. We had just a couple of hours, so we focused just on the medieval town.
After I've read the novel "Timeline" of "Micheal Crichton", I have a special interest on medieval era of Europe. As a Turk, we have complete different story and culture in the same era. Our medieval towns are much different than those in Europe.
So, as I expected, it was completely a different experience for me.
Gruyéres is a small town surrounded by a wall. Within the wall, there's a small castle with additional walls. The town had been built on a pretty high crest with a complete view of a large plain, which gives a powerful defense.
The general architecture and layout is well preserved. Also the traces of renovations are quite obvious.
After we made a tour in the castle and in the city, rain started and we sat in a restaurant to taste the famous cheese of Gruyéres. By the way, the name of the cheese gruyere, comes from the town. I've took a special cheese plate with various types of local cheese. And of course a glass of wine.
Drinking the wine while watching the rain fall to the town was such a calming experience. When Zeynep lit a cigarette, I wished I didn't quit smoking and enjoy a cigarette at this very special moment.
As I quit smoking in 2004, after two and a half years, it was one of my hardest moments. Quitters may face such challenges even after long years. It's hard, but keeping "not smoking" is better.
I resisted the short burst of temptation and enjoyed the scenery instead.
Back to Geneva
After the rain lost its pace, we started our way back to Geneva. As it was dark, the return journey was not as fascinating as coming to Gruyéres.
We arrived in Geneva late at night.
I'll always remember this wonderful journey. Of course, I'll visit Switzerland again for some other railroad destinations.
After I returned to home in Istanbul, I played Locomotion game in Swiss Alps scenario including narrow gauge tracks. No, it was not even near to the real experience.
Good bye Switzerland.