We drove and saw a 5th century church that has been added to over the centuries. It boggles my mind how such an old building can still stand because most buildings in Calgary are no older than 50 years. Originally we weren’t going to go into the Prior’s House but we spent 3 hours there. It is the last of its kind and has been beautifully restored. It was for noble men to stay at on their religious pilgrimage. We chatted with the 84 year old woman who bought it when she was 30. It was a ruin and no one wanted it. My favourite room was the cellar because it was full of old pots and now is just used for storage. That is funny because it has such history but here it is part of everyday life. – Alexandra

My first impression of the place was amazing, it was built in the 400’s! Each floor we went up, everything got even more interesting. My favourite room was the library. Most of the stuff was probably an antique, and people just come in and read books or leave some on the shelves! The cellar was definitely old, the floor is cobblestone and the doors have extreme character. – Isaac


The backside of the priory is seen on the far right of this pic. Romainmôitier is situated along one of the pilgrimage routes leading to Saint-Jacques de Compostelle. More than 1000 mansions were erected along these axes to receive noble guests and high-ranking religious officials. It’s believes the priory house is the last of these mansions remaining.
These ancient public water basins are everywhere in Europe




They hold concerts in this church and the acoustics are supposed to be amazing
This tiny narrow staircase leads upstairs to another small chapel inside the church.


The outside of the Prior’s House. The front room and courtyard are used as a teahouse.



This pillar, in the Hall of Knights, supports the whole building.



The Bernese Hall served as a courtroom, and has a ceiling painted with children’s faces.



This is the the hall above the Hall of Knights, which is still used for receptions. The timber pillar, carved from one piece of wood, rests on the cement pillar below.


Backyard complete with gypsy caravan


The library, where people from the community can come and read, and take or leave books


The attic was full of treasures, like old beds, partially finished tapestries and ancient looms


Cellar door


The cellar used to be the stable and dates to the 5th century





Katharina von Arx and her cat Fatsly. She was a journalist and world traveller herself, but when she was going to have a child with her photographer husband, they settled down in the only place they could afford. She said it was so worn down, no one wanted it, so it was dirt cheap. She said her parents were horrified. When they were trying to renovate it to make it livable, they came across frescoes from the middle ages. So she contacted experts and eventually the truth and historical significance of her new home was revealed. We were so lucky to meet her and get the story firsthand.








Old Friends and New Friends

Dad went out today with his friend Sean from Calgary who lives in Lausanne with Karine (who is from Quebec) and their 2 year old son Luka. In the evening we went for a walk and we ate cheese and bread sticks below the cathedral and chatted as the sun set. It was great to play with Luka and talk with younger adults from Canada. – Alexandra



They have a great apartment in a funky building just a short walk from downtown Luasanne






Cailler Chocolate Factory

Today we went to a chocolate factory. I learned that chocolate was a sacred drink for the Aztec warriors. It’s mostly made now by machines like conveyor belts. They let you have as many samples as you want on your tour. I thought the first sample was the last, so I had a whole lot of these, but boy was I wrong. There was an entire room full of different types of chocolate, so in the end I didn’t feel so good. – Isaac

We learned about the history of chocolate. I never thought I could get sick of chocolate, but I did. Too much of a good thing! – Alexandra




They use many different types of beans from around the world.












After our chocolate extravaganza in Broc, we went through the Swiss countryside once again, tracing Baruch’s trail that he cycled 16 years ago.


Can you see the hang gliders?


This is the pass near Mürren, where Baruch cycled and camped.



The village of Mürren is up there, and it is only part-way to the top. You can take a train / gondola combo to get to the “Top of Europe”, but we thought the price ($200.00 each) was a bit stiff for a quick trip up late in the day.


In front of the Eiger at Grindelwald







Today MaryLou gave us a tour of Lausanne, it’s quite a cute little town I got to say! Lots of the streets are cobblestone, we went to one of the churches. Let me tell you it’s super unique. Then we walked up the stairs to the top of the church. From there we had a great view of Lausanne and the lake behind it.

We climbed to the top of the Cathedral, all 224 stairs to the top. At 2:00 Mom, Isaac and I were standing under the bell when it sounded. It scared the living daylights out of me, even though it was actually the bell on the other side that rang. Lausanne is built on 7 hills and has a unique character of its own. After lunch we went to visit one of MaryLou’s daughters, Alexandra. She has three kids, Alice, who is 2, Anthony who is 4, and Marina who is 5. – Alexandra





MaryLou treated us to chocolates from this famous store, which is often lined up out the door









Trap door in the floor of the Cathedral


Supports near the bells


South Luasanne, looking towards Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) and the Swiss/ French Alps
North Lausanne. MaryLou’s house is on the hill behind the trees on the left



There is a herald who stands at the top of the tower every night between 10pm and 2am and announces “It’s 12:00 and all is well!”





Major Davel, who tried to liberate Lausanne from Bern in the 1700’s and paid with his head. In front of Chateau Saint-Maire, now a government building.




Coco Chanel’s home


Alexandra and her kids




MaryLou and Rainer von Schack. MaryLou is a childhood friend of Baruch’s mom. She came to Europe from Canada after university to work and travel, eventually met Rainer, and the rest is history. They have lived in Lausanne now for over 30 years. Baruch stayed with them when he cycled around Europe in 1996, so it was neat to catch up with these lovely folks again!


Trying to catch up on the blog, as always



They have a nice big yard where Isaac did a treasure hunt his sister created for him
We went for a walk in the forest next to Lou and Rainer’s, which opens up onto farmers’ fields and a great view of the city and mountains.





The Swiss Alps and An Amazing Robotic Arm

As soon as we crossed the Swiss border, the terrain became jagged mountains with fresh snow! The landscape was from a storybook. In Gruyère, where Gruyère cheese is made, we stopped at the factory. A minute after we got there Isaac discovered something totally unrelated to the cheese, but awesome (see below). The cheese was delish and was carefully made. One of the many things I didn’t know was that this cheese has to age on spruce shelves. – Alexandra

Today we drove to a cheese factory. When we got there, I had to go to the bathroom. Once I flushed the toilet this robotic hand came out of the tank, then it clamped its hand onto the toilet seat. Then the seat started spinning around in a circle until the robotic hand unclamped and compacted into the toilet tank and the seat stopped spinning! I thought that was really cool! On our tour around the cheese factory I learned that cows drink 85L of water a day, and eat 100kg of grass a day, and in one day a cow can produce 25L of milk!!!!! Each round of cheese they make weighs 35kg. We got to see the milk turn into cheese, I enjoyed the tour very much. After that I saw snow for the first time in months, and I was quite happy to see it in fact. – Isaac









The village of Gruyère


The Chateau Gruyère


Most of us were excited to see snow, which of course turned into an opportunity we had not had for a long time…..





Overlooking the valley near Chateaux D’Oeux. There is a gondola which takes you from this village on the south side, across the valley to the skiing on the north slopes.










There are tiny ski lifts everywhere just off the side of the roads