Thursday, 14 October 2010

So Cheesy

When Alexi told me that she and Clarence wanted to spend their honeymoon in Europe, I told her to start planning the Swiss leg of their journey because there was NO WAY I was letting them on the continent without stepping foot in our neck of the woods.

Oh, I should mention that I started planning for their visit *before* Dan and I were even sure our Great Swiss Adventure would be a reality.

I count my chickens before they hatch.

But luckily this batch of chicks all hatched as anticipated, as did my plan to hijack Alexi and Clarence's honeymoon and force them to spend time with us. I'm an evil genius.

I did have some hostess anxiety though when Alexi told me that Clarence was lactose intolerant. I still remember the exact moment when she told me this: we were sitting in Starbucks, in Kamloops, and I told her that I would be sure to make them a traditional Swiss fondue or raclette dinner so they would have the authentic Swiss dining experience. Once I got to Switzerland I would make it my priority to learn the ways of the cheese so that they could experience all the cheesy goodness that is Switzerland. Then she laughed sort of nervously and broke the news that Clarence would be unable to eat either of those meals. I put my cup on the table, my eyes bugged out of my head, and I exclaimed: I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO MAKE FOR YOU NOW.

Then I stressed about this for the next seven months.

Oh yeah, I totally did.

Dan will back me up on this. Every time we'd go to the grocery store, I would stare at the giant wall of cheese and weep a little inside: Clarence can't eat this. What will I serve them? Never mind the fact that Dan and I do not eat wheels of cheese on a daily basis; cheese is not incorporated into every meal; cheese is not what we live eat and breathe--we eat plenty of non-dairy meals--but when I find out that somebody has a food limitation I obsess on the limitation and then think of every conceivable meal that they can't eat.

So in anticipation of their arrival, I kept dreaming of dinners of cheese, smothered in cheese, then finished off with a side of cheese then collapsing in despair over the fact that Clarence would whittle away to nothing in our home BECAUSE THERE'S NOTHING TO EAT THAT DOESN'T INCLUDE CHEESE.

The Saturday they arrived was kind of surreal because Dan and I were in the Bern train station looking at the arrivals board for the train from Paris. Because they didn't arrive directly from Paris, we couldn't find the train they were on, so we decided to pick the one we thought they'd be on and head to that platform. Then turning around from the arrivals board bam there they were.

I haven't yet coincidentally run into a person I know in Bern, so to randomly see familiar faces was so surreal. Especially familiar Canadian faces. There were happy hugs, conversations that climbed over each other, and I tried to resist the urge to force feed Clarence that wheel of brie I carry around in my purse like lip gloss.

Ignore the cheese. Ignore the cheese. Ignore the cheese.

The weather forecast for Sunday was blue skies and fall breezes, and Alexi and Clarence were game for anything, so on Saturday night Dan planned our first hike while I made dinner, and tried to prevent myself from uncontrollably melting a whole block of Gruyere over all pork chops.

Ignore the cheese. Ignore the cheese. Ignore the cheese.

We went to Murren, and what a gorgeous day it was. We took buses, trains, and gondolas in our quest to reach our destination, and it was so cool to see how excited Alexi and Clarence were when they saw the scenery; when we felt the bumps and dips of the gondolas; when Clarence totally put out his elbows and fought the Interlaken crowds like a seasoned veteran and got us seats on the trains and buses; when Alexi and I would look at each other (trying not to die of laughter) and finding amusement in the plight of panicked tourists who started shouting at their family members because the crushing number of people on the bus was hindering them getting off the bus, and increasing their chances of getting separated:


And then surly teenage Grant would reply:


Then panicked mom would reply:


(Okay, she didn't say 'my baby' but she was totally thinking it.)

Here's the pictures from our first hike.


Dan gets all tourist guide

Downtown Murren.


"Up-up-up can only go up from here, up-up-up the clouds gonna clear..."
What? Shania Twain lives in Switzerland too, isn't it appropriate I quote her immortal words?

Waiter, he's blocking my view.

When you reach the'll be sweaty.
Especially if you have chosen to wear a black merino wool shirt and not dress in layers for weather that's a warm 17 degrees.  Mistake.

This woman is living my dream. Three Bernese Mountain Dogs, could life get any better?
FYI, I have wanted one of these dogs since grade 11, and once even called a breeder with my very intelligent and well researched questions. That is not sarcasm. I was prepared for that phone call and know the breed inside out, and wanted to know her breeding practices and what diseases show up in the bloodlines of her litters. Then she said, "Do your parents know you're calling me?" And ended the conversation. Denied.

The classic Swiss cow shot!
It took all summer, but I got them!
I can hardly wait for next summer when I get to try all over again!

Calendar girls.

Just lovely.

Back down the mountain.

It was a classic hike in that Dan picked the way UP, and I trailed behind 'taking pictures' aka stumbling in exhaustion. At the end of the day I also had a sunburn that made me look like Two Face: half my face was a nice cherry red and the other half was a freckled white. Classic. But Dan and I had so much fun, and it was all because we got to do the hike with these guys.

Sorry Alexi for the cheesiness of that last line, but I needed Clarence to have at least a small sampling of some Swiss cheese.

I had to.

Ignore the cheese. Ignore the cheese. Ignore the cheese.


Dan said...

That was a a fantastic hike: the distance was good, neither too much up nor down but still not just a walk in the park and the perfect panorama background.
So what do I have to do to convince you that you have already taken the perfect bovine picture and need no longer take any next year?

Habebi said...

Woooooowwww!! So scenic and idyllic. I really needed that bit of escapism. I would love to hike, but, there's nothing around here that stunning to hike up to! I'd do it any day, especially if there's cheese at the end of it. I'm not lactose intolerant and hey hiking works up a major appetite non?

Oh and ignore your hubby, I love the cow and dog pictures. Keep 'em coming!

(hope you get a Bermese dog someday!)

Alicia said...

These pictures are so beautiful, I think I would have a hard time on that hike. Well I am glad you got to have some Canadian visitors. It is so great to be able to read about how you both are doing. You write so well cait. Well take care I am glad you are both doing well

T said...

You need to make a Swiss cow calendar (or book) Caitie, your pictures are awesome and it would definitely make for a great souvenir! (sorry Dan :P)

When I come visit you, I want Raclette and Fondu every night! I haven't had Racletee since I went there in 2008 and it has since been one of my favorite meals ever. Actually, now that I think of it I haven't had Fondu since that night at your place either, and it is still very well remembered :)

Caitie said...

Habebi- Oh I'm totally getting my Bernese Mountain Dog someday! And by 'someday' I mean 'Christmas' ...right Dan, right, right????

Alicia - Hello! How are you doing? Thanks for the nice comments and please let us know if you ever feel like hoping on a plane to Switzerland. I know a really great place you could stay (if you like cats) ;-)

Thriza - you're a genius! I'm on it! And don't you worry, the only thing I will feed you is cheese. Don't you worry at all.