Anyone who knows me, or reads It’s not easy being greedy, will know that we love to travel. And with travelling comes the opportunity to eat our way around the globe. We’re lucky enough to have several friends living in Switzerland, which means we get to go there on holiday quite a lot. As our friends (unfortunately) have to work while we are holidaying, we usually end up doing day trips around Switzerland, and so we’ve seen a lot of the country (and eaten a lot of delicious Swiss specialities).
So when I was asked to take part in the #Nofilter Switzerland challenge by London City Airport (sharing unedited photos of places in Europe), I jumped at the chance to share our travel experiences. After all, Andrew spends a ridiculous amount of time taking pictures when we are on holiday (it can get a bit annoying sometimes), and we have tens of thousands of photos from our travels for me to choose from. Don’t worry though – I am only allowed to share five!
On a visit to see some very good friends who live near Geneva, we booked ourselves onto the chocolate train for the day: if you ever go to Switzerland, make sure you do the same as it’s one of the best day trips I have ever done. You start from Montreux and get an old fashioned Pullman train up the mountains to Gruyere where you tour the cheese factory (sampling variously aged cheese throughout) and stop for lunch.
Andrew had for the first time in Gruyere what has become one of his favourite meals: cold, thinly sliced very rare roast beef, served with gherkins and tartare sauce, and a big bowl of frites. Beef and tartare sauce might not sound like a winning combination, but it is, and we often have it for dinner using up a leftover roasted joint of beef. I especially love the Swiss flag poked into the tomato in this picture!
Gruyere is famous for its cream as well as cheese, and for pudding we had a large bowl of thick Gruyere cream with fresh raspberries. This next photo shows Gruyere in all its glory – it’s the view we had whilst we ate our delicious lunch.
HR Giger, who created the Alien from the famous film of the same name, lived in Gruyere and you can visit his – frankly weird – museum if you have the chance. We didn’t have time although we did take some photos of the aliens and freaky bar furniture – I’ve heard it’s a good visit and you can find out more on the HR Giger website.
Heading back onto the chocolate train we made our way through the mountains further to Broc, which is home to the Cailler chocolate factory. As we left the train the air smelt of chocolate, and after learning about how chocolate is made in the museum we were taken to the ‘tasting room’ where trays of chocolates were laid out to sample. We were told we could eat as many chocolates as we wanted, but could take none with us, so I tucked in with relish and stuffed my fat little face with pralines and truffles. Each tasted fabulous but I felt quite sick by the end of the tasting, and then had to return to the train and sit and wait for everyone else in the baking sunshine. The smell of chocolate in the air wasn’t so nice after that greedy gorging!
This next photo was taken from the chocolate train window as we wove our way through the mountains. It’s a landscape which for me is immediately identifiable as Swiss: blue skies, mountains, green grass and water: you can almost smell the freshness through the photo.
My next photo is taken from another day trip we made: from Lausanne to Evian across Lake Geneva. The boat ride across the lake takes less than an hour and you are surrounded by stunning views (although I must say that looking across to France is prettier than looking back to Switzerland), and I think this picture by Andrew captures the tranquility of the lake.
Evian-les-bains is a lovely town to visit. If you haven’t guessed, it’s where the famous water comes from, and you can sample the mineral water directly from a spring in the middle of town. If you do travel across from Lausanne then remember to take both your passport and some Euros – we had to run back to the hotel for our passports and completely forgot Euros and were stung in the local cafes with extortionate exchange rates.
I could have shared 100 photos with you, so it has been a struggle to pick my last. Eventually I chose this shot by Andrew of waves lapping at the shore of Montreux, which is a wonderful place to visit: it’s where Freddy Mercury was born so there’s a statue of him on the lake, and Chateau de Chillon is a few kilometres away: in the dungeon you can see Byron’s name scratched into a pillar.
Sometimes I am a little disappointed by the pictures we take because they don’t always do the view justice, but this image is so perfect, I can imagine stepping into it and walking into the lake for a cooling dip.
So there are my five shots of this wonderful country. None of them have been edited, but each one I believe captures the essence of Switzerland. Of course, when you have such a good subject, it’s hard not to take a brilliant photo, but here are some top tips from Andrew for how to take the best picture.
- Firstly, take plenty of pictures. The bigger the memory card, the more photos you can take. And of course the more you practice, the more you see how the light affects your pictures and you’ll naturally learn to take a better photo.
- Morning light and evening light: take advantage of this softer light to add a gentle touch to your pictures.
- Think about framing the photo: what should appear in the middle of the image? Use the zoom to capture just what you want in the photo – although again take more than one image with different zooms, as you can always crop your photo when you get home if you need to.
- Obviously the better camera, the better the shot will be. But we’ve taken some of our favourite photos from our iPhones: camera phones nowadays can take great quality shots so don’t get too hung up on the idea of having the perfect camera. He has a Nikon digital SLR with a couple of different lenses, but I just use a Nikon digital point and click camera and – dare I say it? – some of my shots are better than his (even he says so!).
You can find out more about the #Nofilter series on the London City Airport website – Switzerland is the second in the series so keep a look out for more in case you want to participate. Becky and Gray from Global Grasshoppers are looking for #nofilter photos which best represent the countries being promoted – I might win a prize if they like my Swiss pictures best! (I have, of course, promised to share any winnings with Andrew).
Do you have any tips about the best places to visit in Switzerland, or things to eat? Another favourite of mine is Moevenpick ice cream and I have been sampling some of their range for an upcoming blog post – so stay tuned for that! Feel free to leave your travel suggestions in the comments below.