For this entry I need to introduce Penny Ryan, nee King. The key ‘Penny’ facts are:
- grew up in Melbourne,
- close school friend of Kay’s (Don’s Sister),
- went to work in London,
- married Donal (Irish, but we won’t hold that against him).
- Penny and Donal have four children; Ed, Jack, Olivia and Stephanie,
- they have been living in Switzerland for the past four years.
We arrive on their doorstep with offerings of cheese, chocolates and wine. In return, Penny and Co, are generously putting us up for three nights and loaning me her washing machine.
It’s a full house. Eighteen year old Ed returns the same day from touring around northern Italy with his mate Dave. Penny is collecting Jack the next day from Ireland, where he has been at a rugby camp with his mate Peter.
It happens that Dave and Peter are brothers. So, in total there are 10 of us in the house.
Penny is a no fuss sort of person. Someone who immediately makes you feel at home and one of the family. She takes it all in her stride and masterfully coordinates the hectic household.
It should also be noted how impressed we are with the Ryan children and friends who all pitch in. That’s once you interrupted their chatter – online chatter.
I think they are the generation that is using whatever the hottest app is; whether it be texts, tweets or facebooking each other rather than talking!
Besides hanging out with the Ryan’s and catching up on a few loads of washing, we did also get out to explore a bit of Lausanne and surrounds.
Gruyère is a small medieval town perched on a hill and of course with a castle. It’s a very charming town. Alps in the background and lush rolling hills dotted with cows. No doubt the same cows that provide the essential ingredient for the cheese. Perfect place for a Gruyère cheese fondue.
Cheese and chocolate are two of my favourite foods. Where else, but in Switzerland can you sample both in the same region? This is quickly becoming my favourite country.
Down the road from Gruyère is Maison Cailler, the chocolate factory for Cailler chocolates. The local Gruyère cows also supply the chocolate factory (busy cows). It’s chocolate is renowned for being rich and creamy, due to the use of sweetened condensed milk, rather than milk powder.
The Cailler history dates back to the early 1800’s. The brand formed a relationship with Nestle in the early 1900’s, becoming part of the group in 1929.
You can tour the factory and at the end, sample all the chocolates you want. Sounds like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory; but all that chocolate quickly becomes a little too rich. We did however purchase a couple of blocks for our travels.
My recommendation to anyone going to Lausanne is to visit the Olympic Museum. It’s located in the well-to-do suburb of Ouchy, on the shores of Lake Geneva, which is worth a visit to enjoy the splendid ornate architecture.
The Museum gardens include an impressive sculpture garden and an outdoor running track, where you can race against Usain Bolt – Don didn’t even get out of the blocks!
Inside is very well done; interactive and informative displays take you through the history of both the summer and winter games. It is a bit exhausting with so much to see, read and watch.
And you can’t avoid the Olympic Marketing machine, Visa has it all sewn-up. You can only pay by Cash or Visa, no MasterCard accepted here! They will accept any currency, with an in-their-favour exchange rate!
After several hours of immersing ourselves in the olympic spirit, we head back to the Ryan’s for the Saturday night ritual of homemade pizza, just scrumptious!
Don has known Penny since childhood and has previously met the Ryan clan (well at least those who were born at the time), but I am a new introduction, who quickly feels like I have known them forever.
We spend our time swapping stories about people and places we share in common. For us, feeling part of a family for a few days was just what we needed after 5 months on the road. These are the simple things we miss.
We love the Ryan’s and thank them all so much for having us. Olivia, thank you for giving up your comfortable bed for us as well.
Watch out, we may be back!
PS: The Ryan’s also have a fantastic shower, it rates up among the best we have had!