Sunday, July 6, 2008

Switzerland Vacation

Following a busy end to the school year, I spent a week in Switzerland with my cousin, Susanne. The scenery was unbelievably gorgeous and Susanne and I took advantage of the warm, sunny weather to see as much as we could. One day we took a train and then cable car to Grindelwald and went hiking in the Swiss Alps. We enjoyed watching many para-gliders sailing over the mountain valleys as we hiked.

Another day, we went to Affolten to tour an Emmentaler (Swiss) Cheese factory. Here the curds are pressed to extract the whey. Then each cheese is marked with the date and an Emmentaler Cheese label (see the large, circular, red and white labels). After being pressed for 6-20 hours, the cheese will sit in a brine bath for 2-3 days to help the rind begin to form. Finally, the cheese will age in the cellar for 4-6 months before being sold.

One of the highlights of my vacation with Susanne was visiting the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Here I pose in the old city center of Biel/Bienne. It was invigorating to be able to read signs and understand the conversations I heard around me. I felt a real sense of accomplishment in being able to purchase fruit at a market and order dinner in a restaurant without having to revert back to using English.

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