• Donna Zabel

Death by Cheese: Switzerland 2019

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

photo: Donna Zabel, CC BY 3.0

Travel brochures for Switzerland always feature beautiful snow-capped peaks poking above forested hillsides, bright blue skies and bright sunshine with a few puffy white clouds for contrast. It is always “Welcome to Beautiful Switzerland”. My initial reaction after getting off a long international flight was the tourism bureau might want to review their marketing strategies. The Zurich airport is modern and Swiss-efficient, but not inspiring, nor are there any lovely mountains that I could see through a sky as gloomy as the one I left in Cleveland. Tourist materials in the airport extoll exciting sightseeing as the Swiss Franc Museum and the Swiss Finance Museum. Given such stimulating options my initial inclination was to take a nap. The drab, uninspiring box of my hotel just reinforced that initial response. From its location near the airport all that was visible was a big parking lot and a distant train. At least the train gave hope there would be more to see.

photo: Donna Zabel, CC BY 3.0

The nap was a good idea, as refreshed I could take the shuttle back to the airport and the train into town to enjoy some of Zurich’s colorful Christmas markets. The pretty baubles, the smells of fresh food, the twinkling lights of the Swarwarsky crystal Christmas tree were festive, and the masterful light displays enough to cheer me up. If not worried about catching the last shuttle back to the hotel, I would have joined the line for the Illumination Exhibit at the National Museum.

photo: Donna Zabel, CC BY 3.0

photo: Donna Zabel, CC BY 3.0

If there is a “must do” in Switzerland it is indulging in caloric, artery-clogging fondue. Not a little appetizer, but a huge pot of melted cheese accompanied by what appeared to be an entire loaf of bread cut into cubes. If the bread isn’t enough carbohydrate, a pound of baby potatoes accompanies the bread. Too much starch? Just add an order of pickled vegetable for further dipping and a salad drenched in a thick cream sauce to lighten up the meal.

photo: Donna Zabel, CC BY 3.0

If the cheese is in excess, so are the prices. With the dent this first dinner was putting in the travel budget, I was determined to eat as much as possible. But even making up for 24 hours of inedible airplane food, it was impossible to finish off all the yellow goo. I waddled home to my stuffy box to sleep off the over-indulgence.

#switzerland #zurich

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