Road trip to Switzerland

Lindsey high atop St Pierre's Cathedral with Lake Geneva in background

Lindsey high atop St Pierre’s Cathedral with Lake Geneva in background


My sister and her family have lived in Geneva, Switzerland for the past 3 years.  We enjoyed a week with the Goudzwaards last summer on our European vacation and decided that since they only have 6 weeks left in country it was time to unleash the Honda horses on the autobahn and drive south for a visit.
We decided to tour Geneva this visit. Our first stop: Lauderee, the chic French confectionery with to-die-for macaroons.  The shop is conveniently located next to the Starbucks so we purchased a box of little treats and savored them with hot coffee.  The rest of the day we meandered through the streets of Old Town, stopping at St Pierre’s Cathedral, Reformation Museum,Museum info here John Calvin’s house and Reformer’s Wall in Bastions Park.  We finished the day with pizza at a street-side restaurant.
An absolutely MUST STOP for your mid-afternoon treat.  Lauderee is right next to Starbucks, downtown Geneva

An absolutely MUST STOP for your mid-afternoon treat. Lauderee is right next to Starbucks, downtown Geneva

Bryan gives the guys a brief understanding of the Reformation...because it can be done in 3 minutes if you're quick

Bryan gives the guys a brief understanding of the Reformation…because it can be done in 3 minutes if you’re quick

Lindsey poses in front of a monument to Zwingli. To other visitors, it's just a dead guy but for the Rietkerks...A Must See!

Lindsey poses in front of a monument to Zwingli. To other visitors, it’s just a dead guy but for the Rietkerks…A Must See!

Our Young Reformers in Geneva

Our Young Reformers in Geneva

Lilly takes a drink of cool water on a very warm Swiss day

Lilly takes a drink of cool water on a very warm Swiss day

Troy pauses to contemplate the Reformation

Troy pauses to contemplate the Reformation

Huegenot Cross at entry to Geneva's Reformation Museum

Huegenot Cross at entry to Geneva’s Reformation Museum

Rapunzel, Let down your hair…and give us some chocolate

After a stormy night in Bogis-Bossey, we woke to sun and great fluffly white clouds dotting the alps. We planned an outing to Gruyeres, a region of Switzerland best known for its cheese and chocolate. Our first stop was the Cailler chocolate factory and I’m not kidding when I say the first thing we smelled when we drove in front of the building was sweet chocolate. It was absolutely mouth-watering. A wonderful tour which reminded the kids of Disneyland concluded with the ever-popular chocolate tasting room…as much chocolate as you can eat but no water or cold milk in sight. Lilly probably had 10 pieces of chocolate and soon was running circles around the rest of the group.
Next, we drove on to the fromagerie, the cheese factory of Gruyeres. Here we had a picnic lunch near the playground and then took an entertaining tour hosted by “Cherry” the friendly brown cow. All of us had fun learning about the special diet these happy cows enjoy on the Swiss mountainside which makes their milk particularly tasty for Gruyeres cheese. (remember Napoleon Dynamite when he could tell onion in the fields of the cows who made the milk sample he tasted? we can do that now!) The entry ticket for the cheese tour was three samples of cheese at various ages (3 mo, 6 mo and 10 mo)
Our final stop on the excursion was the castle of Gruyere, a phenomenal monument to knights, dukes and all things medieval. The kids thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to explore the entire place without security guards blocking doorways. The adults appreciated the calm atmosphere and gorgeous views of the valley from the tower windows.Stephanie and I commendted that it must have been boring to live in a castle…everything stone and wood with no comfy couches to recline on. The mist and rain added to the austere surroundings.

A Swiss Sanctuary

Made an excursion to downtown Geneva to explore shopping and history. We answered the call of the sweet tooth and had delectable macaroons in a variety of flavors including caramel, orange blossom and rose petal. I can’t quite describe these tasty treats other than to say they really do taste like their name implies.
We broke the group up after our snack with the younger kids going home to get their cousin from school. Tim, Lindsey and Kristen headed on for a dose of Reformation history. First, we stopped in the Calvin Auditorium, an austere building which hosted many lectures by “the man himself.” When we walked in, a choir was practicing for an upcoming concert so we took seats and enjoyed the acoustics in this building. Such beautiful sounds of the young girls when they hit the high notes perfectly. Next, we took a short walk to the The Reformation Museum houses tons of info regarding Jean Calvin and friends. I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of displays including video presentation of the Predestination banquet (yummy) and the music room where you could press buttons to hear different musical recordings of traditional psalms. Following the museum, we walked to St Peter’s Cathedral and the Chapel of the Maccabees. Here we saw Calvin’s chair and a massive mausoleum for the Duke of Rohan, leader of the French Hugeonots who found safety in Geneva after fleeing persecution in France. The church was completely stripped of its finery when it transferred from Catholic to Protestant in 1536. All the walls have been whitewashed except for a tiny chapel originally built by Cardinal Jean de Brogny in 1405 to house his tomb. The chapel still sports a dazzling array of gilt and bright colors.