Good Food, Good Life: An Amazing Journey With Nestle (Part 1/3)

I’m baaaack. Took 2 weeks to snap out of vacation mode and get into the swing of things again, especially in terms of work, but I’ve kept you waiting long enough from my recent travel adventure to Switzerland. And now I’m finally sharing the best photos and a few awesome stories from the trip; sorry for the delay!

It all started with that wonderful food company that everyone has definitely heard of, Nestle…

As mentioned in my previous post, 2012 marks the 100th year in Singapore for Nestle. Did you know that the brand itself has been around for over 140 years? I remember Nestle for nostalgic products that I grew up with such as Milo, Cheerios and KitKat, just to name a few. A lot has been accomplished for both Singapore and Nestle in the last century.

To learn more about Nestle’s journey through nutrition, health and wellness; things that this blog and I am ALL about, I was humbled to be given the opportunity visit the Nestle Headquarters in Vevey, Switzerland. 2 other Singaporean bloggers who write about travel, food and lifestyle, and a writer for Lianghe Zaobao also joined me on this trip. The tour was thoughtfully organized and led by Christine, from Nestle Singapore, who made sure we got the most enriching experience in Switzerland – where Nestle all started.

The thing that delighted me the most about this trip wasn’t just experiencing Europe for the first time, but realizing the true meaning of Nestle’s mantra -‘Good Food, Good Life’.

‘An Amazing Journey With Nestle’ was my golden ticket to explore the world of Nestle and its origins. The flight was kindly covered by Finnair and the rest; hotel, food and tour; by Nestle.

It was my first time traveling to Europe, but as a relatively seasoned traveler, I was surprised it only took 11 hours to reach halfway across the world to Finland! Finnair is the fastest airline to Europe and I had a pleasant flight thanks to the gracious service of the flight attendants.

There were a few unoccupied seats on the plane, especially in the middle row. After take-off, I moved from my window seat and took up the center row… like a boss! Personal screens were nice too.

As we arrived in transit at Helsinki airport, we were approached by a friendly Finnair staff who recommended that we signed up for Finnair Plus, a membership programme that allows you to collect mileage and redeem attractive offers.

We just flew halfway across the globe, it’d be a waste not to earn those miles! As a Finnair Plus member, you can always redeem your missing mileage points even if you hadn’t signed up prior to your trip (as long as you redeem it only after three weeks but not more than six months after your flight).

We were already waiting in the bus that was to take us to our connecting flight from Helsinki to Geneva when it was announced that the flight was cancelled due to some technical difficulties they could not rectify in time.

Finnair handled the flight cancellation efficiently and made sure all the passengers were re-issued a new ticket. No one made a fuss. Everyone pretty much accepted the fact that stuff like this happens. I was just glad that at least Finnair did their maintenance checks thoroughly and made sure the flight was safe before allowing passengers to get on board.

So we had to take a detour and go to Geneva via Zurich instead. Our next flight was scheduled at 4PM, which meant we had 9 hours to kill in the airport.

Luckily, we had the luxury access of the Finnair lounge!

Wifi was free and extremely fast! Time went by quickly, especially with endless things to keep me entertained online.  I remember reading about Felix Baumgartner’s daring space jump that afternoon because it was all over my Facebook news feed and everyone was tweeting about it. Watch his amazing video if you haven’t already!

I loved what they served at the Finnair lounge. I enjoyed a hearty meal while waiting for our next flight.

The flight to Zurich took only 3 hours and we arrived in Zurich shortly after dinnertime.

From there, we took the train to Vevey (the small town where Nestle bases its HQ) and finally settled in at Hotel Du Lac. The hotel has a rich history, with many important Nestlé deals being signed or discussed under the same roof we were hosted in.

After a lengthy 29-hour journey to get here, I was happy to finally get a restful sleep on a comfortable, fluffy bed.

The grand front entrance of Hotel Du Lac.

The next morning, I took a walk behind the hotel and marvelled at the majestic mountaineous alps as it came to view. It was about 13 degrees that morning and I’m usually a whimp when it comes to the cold, but the sun glowed with warmth and the air was crispy fresh. Such a nice change to wake up to!

View from the breakfast room. Can you see the snow-covered mountain peak?

Here’s a closer look…

There’s a lovely park just behind Hotel Du Lac that stretches along the pristine Lake Geneva. I planned on going for an outdoor run along the park with Christine but I just couldn’t handle the cold.

After a light breakfast at the hotel, our first order of business was… CHEESE!

My theory is: Switzerland has the best cheese and chocolate because they get the freshest milk from the happy cows that feed on the greenest pastures. Happy cows = fresh milk = the best quality of cheese and chocolate. Wouldn’t you agree?

Happy cows!

We saw plenty of happy cows as we drove to Gruyere. They were so busy feeding on the turf and barely moved that Brad almost thought they were just “decorations”. Like those cupboard cows you probably would have spotted in Singapore.

 So here I am at the cheese factory called ‘La Maison Du Gruyere’.

Yes, the cheese on my hand is photoshop magic 😛

I was surprised to see that these Swiss women still wear their traditional outfit to work. The first thing that came to mind when I saw them? Milkmaid!

Now you know where your condensed milk (that special ingredient in teh tahrik!) comes from…

Beautifully handmade cards.
Most traditional Swiss clothing and handmade craft such is adorned with embroidery.

We signed up for the audio tour (available in several different languages) that takes us through how cheese is produced and manufactured.

Look at all that cheese! It takes a whoppin’ 400 litres of milk to make 35 kilos of cheese. This huge cellar holds the cheese in different age.

Say cheese!

 At the end of the tour, you can buy the locally produced cheese called Le Gruyere in the souvenir shop or even do a cheese tasting at the restaurant.

Milk a cow – that’s in bucketlist. I heard it isn’t easy and not the most pleasant experience for some, but I’d like to try it once!

While still in Gruyere, we stopped by the medieval town nearby to check out the scenery and one of the last remaining medieval towns still preserved to date.

You’ll find some of the breathtakings views in Switzerland at the town of Gruyères.
The town of Gruyères itself is unique: a medieval village consisting of a cobble-stoned main street flanked by ancient but beautifully preserved buildings – a tribute both to the local statesmen’s commitment to the rich history of their canton, and to the craftsmen restorers who have kept the village in its pristine condition.

The entire town is car-free, and the cobbled main street is an uphill slope to the château, so remember to wear comfortable walking shoes. Not only is the architecture of the medieval buildings themselves worth seeing, but some exceptional art and cultural exhibitions are housed here.

Who could forget the badass Sigourney Weaver in movie ‘ALIEN‘? This tiny town has a smaller second castle – the Château de St-Germain – which houses an exhibition of images and sculptures from the Swiss artist H. R. Giger, Oscar-winning designer of the monster in the original film ‘Alien’ (1979).

You aren’t allowed to take any photos in the museum but they had some pretty cool sculptures outside too.

Next to the museum, there was also the Alien Bar…

And when you’ve had your fill of these artistic horrors, you can recover in the bar opposite, which is decorated in the same science-fiction style!

You’re only allowed to take photos in the Alien Bar if you’re customer, so I didn’t grab any on my own. But here are some photos I plucked from the internet.

Live the movie at the Alien Bar.
It’s like walking in to a movie set!

I hope you enjoyed my mini introduction to Switzerland so far, there’s more to come on my next post!