Exploring the Rwanda of Europe

They always said ‘Rwanda is the Switzerland of Africa’ and in June I was in Switzerland , among other things, to find out what they meant by this statement.
Cattle rearing is a common activity in Fribourg (Courtesy photo)
Cattle rearing is a common activity in Fribourg (Courtesy photo)

They always said ‘Rwanda is the Switzerland of Africa’ and in June I was in Switzerland , among other things, to find out what they meant by this statement.

Apart from the neat streets and the good reception I received when I got to Geneva, nothing really looked like my lovely Rwanda until a few days later when I went to Fribourg.

 

Fribourg (Freiburg in German) is the capital of Swiss canton (canton=administrative subdivision) and it’s located in the western part of Switzerland. There are 26 cantons in Switzerland.

 

We got on an early morning train to Fribourg which is about three hours from Geneva and when we got there, I started to notice that this place indeed looked so familiar.

 

Like some parts of Rwanda, Fribourg is very hilly and like the people of Rwanda, the people of Fribourg are mainly agriculturalists who are predominantly into cattle rearing, dairy farming and cheese making.

While in Fribourg, never miss visiting Mt Moleson, whose peak can be reached by cable car from the vacation village of Moléson-sur-Gruyères. Mt Moleson is over 2,000 metres.

1475082663The-writer-at-the-peak-of-Mt.-Moleson
The writer at the peak of Mt. Moleson,

The cable car (costs around Swiss francs 32) leading to the peak is a treat of a lifetime as you get an excellent airborne view of the neat snow-capped hills and valleys of this part of country side.

On the green hills and valleys, you will see herds of beautiful cows and sheep and if you get carried away, you’ll think you are driving along the Katuna- Byumba road.

After a five minute drive in the cable car, you get to the peak of Mt Moleson where you are welcomed by a strong breeze of cold air that makes most of the body numb. They told me its -5 degrees Celsius most time of the year.

Nearly everyone immediately hit the bar and restaurant located on top  Mt. Moleson trying to warm up but I and a friend had more to do when we got there. Me and a friend however didn’t. We had seen some snow by the mountain on our journey up and decided we had take some photos there- proof that we made it to the top of this mountain.

1475082510Most-of-the-hills-around-Mt-Moleson-are-snow-capped.
Most of the hills around Mt Moleson are snow capped.

Anyway, the cold won and we got back to the restaurant where we joined the rest. We had a few beers and took more photos as we admired the beautiful scenery.

Almost an hour later, we decided we had had enough of the amazing scenery and cold weather and set off back to the bottom. The ride down the mountain was exciting to some but frightening to some especially the ladies in the group.

Mt Moleson. Tick. Next; Cheese Fondue.

I mentioned earlier that agriculture; in particular cattle rearing are the main activities in this part of Switzerland. Cheese, made from fermented milk is one of their main produce but the Swiss in this part of the country consume it differently.

1475082347The-writer-(3rd-right)-enjoys-a-meal-of-Cheese-Fondue
The writer (3rd right) enjoys a meal of Cheese Fondue

Before travelling to Switzerland, I had read a lot about the Swiss, their culture and of course their food.

For some reason, I missed notes about Cheese Fondue but I must say not reading about it actually helped me enjoy it. 

Cheese Fondue is served in a pot/dish that is heated by a candle. To eat the melted cheese, you are given bread or boiled potatoes that you dip in the hot pot of cheese using long-stemmed forks. You chase it down with cold beer or cold wine that I was told helps the sticky cheese to digest smoothly.

Our hosts introduced a few rules that are supposed to be followed when eating Fondue.

1. You are not supposed to ‘Double-dip'

2. When the bread or potato falls off your fork and falls into the pot, you buy a bottle of wine (for men) or kiss the man next to you (for women). Now you can tell why Fondue has thrived and even exported to other parts of the world especially North America.

By the time we finished our meal, we were all so full, sleep was kicking in and we had three hours to get back to Geneva.

As the others were talking about how much fun we had that day, I was thinking about Fribourg, something about it reminded me a lot about my motherland. I should be going back sometime in the future.

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