We had breakfast in the hotel and started our drive to Gruyères, which is a small town in Switzerland. We knew absolutely nothing about the place, but HR Giger Museum is located there, which has been on both of our to see list for years.
The drive was otherwise uneventful, but one of the road was closed and while there were some signs for the detour, we either took the wrong turn or missed some of the detour signs. At some point we had to stop and try to align GPS on our two mobiles, so we can avoid driving in circles. Finally we managed to cross the border into Switzerland in some tiny border village. There was nobody manning the customs station, which was probably good as Switzerland isn’t part of the EU and we had way too many champagne bottles in the trunk. If we would’ve been inspected, we would’ve needed to pay tax on the champagne despite the fact that we were only there for a day.
Finally we got to Gruyères with a delay of about one hour compared to our initial schedule due to the detour incident. The town in located on the top of the hill and there is a parking lot right next to it with parking attendants, who charged 5 CHF for parking. At that point we realized that we didn’t even think about exchanging money, so we had no Swiss francs on hand. We asked if we could pay in euros and to our surprise that was possible and the cost for parking was 5 EUR. Luckily we had some euros in cash with us, so we could pay for parking. It is really amazing how nowadays you can use credit cards virtually everywhere and I hardly ever bother exchanging money anymore preferring to withdraw cash from an ATM when already in the country. What a change compared to the travels I did in the 90s!
The first thing we did was climb up the hill to Gruyères and find the HR Giger Museum as it would close at 6 p.m. and it was already close to 4 p.m. There were a lot of tourists and especially plenty of motorcycle tourists, who were probably enjoying the serpentine roads in the region.
We found the museum pretty quickly, but it was somewhat bizarre how the museum of the creator of Alien characters is located in this picturesque tourist trap in the Swiss countryside. 🙂
The admission was 12.50 CHF and photography is forbidden inside, but I couldn’t resist snapping a couple of shots. The museum was full of Giger fans avoiding camera surveillance and snapping an occasional photo. I think the museum would make a lot of money just by selling the photography pass for visitors. 😀
From one location in the museum, you could see the entire Gruyères.
After the museum we headed to the HR Giger Bar across the street. The food there was very mediocre, but I think that everyone was there for the bar itself, which was very cool.
We snapped a few pictures of the surroundings, which were quite magnificent.
As we only wanted to see the museum, we haven’t really investigated what was there to see in addition to it. We spotted that there is a Gruyères castle, which we decided to visit while we’re there. 🙂 It turned out to have nice views and it was a bit of a quilt with different rooms in different styles and some rooms hosting paintings, but it was totally worth the visit.
We walked a bit around town, which had plenty of restaurants, but most of them seemed full. We had actually called a couple of them during the day and all of them were fully booked. We ended up making a reservation at a restaurant called Le Restaurant de la Maison du Gruyère, which was a huge restaurant next to the cheese factory. The cheese factory is arranging the tours where you can see how the Gruyère cheese is manufactured, but it was already closed and while there was still an opportunity to make the last tour, it would’ve been just a tour of the factory without seeing the operations.
We decided to just go and have dinner, but here we found out that the restaurant didn’t have our reservation despite them confirming it to us on the phone earlier the same day. After some negotiations they agreed to feed us, but only with fondue. Fondue in Switzerland? Sure! But this was one of those times when the reality is much more modest than the reputation of a dish. There was a pot of melted Gruyère cheese, some boiled potatoes, and some white bread. The entire thing didn’t taste like anything! What a disappointment! But at least now I can say that I’ve tried fondue in Switzerland. 😀
We drove to a hotel Ibis Bulle La Gruyere, which was located in the middle of nowhere in some field about 5km from Gruyères. 😀 But it was convenient in terms of parking, the room wasn’t cramped, and the hotel wasn’t as expensive as the others in the area, so all in all it turned out to be a pretty good option.