My mom has been visiting. We wanted her to see as much Swissness as possible during her visit so we took her to Brig to see the Cow Festival.* It was perfect. I’m sure that if we brainstormed, we could fit a few more Swiss clichés into the day, but they hit all the big ones.
It was interesting to watch them try to move something so big that did not want to move.
We arrived in Brig a bit early and got to see the cows arriving. They may walk down from alpine pastures, but they take trailers to the parade. The cows are a special kind of Swiss cow that is raised almost exclusively in the Valais region,Herens. These cows are known for being particularly aggressive. In the spring, this area hascow fighting contests. Here’s a YouTubeclip for inquiring minds.
Do I look like I want to wear a flower hat?
I’m in love. Again. We had a connection.
My favorite part of the parade
This is the capital of raclette. When in Rome…
What’s a parade without someone handing out samples of local wine?
They also baptise the crowd with wine. Yes, they really do. Check out the guy in the plaid shirt’s face.
Alphorns! They sounded great echoing through the valley.
They handed out the apples decorating this float to the crowd. They did not hand out the cauliflower.
I’m not sure if this is traditionally Swiss.
Carved woods signs announcing the top cows = uber Swiss
Note the ribbons. That cow is all done up for a night on the town.
Mountain Reine National translates to National Mountain Queen. She is the prize cow so to speak. Do you think she won the smack down?
Sometimes, the cows got really excited about hitting the grass at the end of the parade.
They were lined up according to number and set about eating (and, ahem, answering nature’s call).
Another cute parade participant
Sorry I didn’t get any decent pictures of the goats. They were unruly to say the least.
Other parade participants. It said “Heidi” across the back of the cart!
*In the end of September and beginning of October, Switzerland has festivals all over the country to celebrate cow’s descent from alpine pastures. This was one such affair.
Christened yesterday “Fors-ver-der-Lueg”. This young bull is the pride of breeder Kaltacker (Bern), Hans Bichsel. It must be said that the animal has been chosen to be delivered to winner 2013 edition of the National Swiss Wrestling Festival (aka Schwingen) of struggle, which has has kicked off in Burgdorf.
I’m speachless. This is fantastic! We must go next year.
I am so glad that we are not lactose intolerant. This is a country of dairy where the cow is practically a national symbol (not to discount the goat and sheep’s milk products you see everywhere). The Swiss do dairy. They do it a lot. They do it very, very well. As a result, we find ourselves constantly trying new, wonderful dairy products. Delightful (and tasty). If you are lactose intolerant, you can still easily enjoy the good food here. It is of high quality and very fresh. You will just miss out on some of the abundant dairy yumminess.
To prove my point that the Swiss do a lot of dairy, I took photos of just some of the dairy in one grocery store. Mind you there is another one across the street. Enjoy!
P.S. I pounded not one, but two delicious youghrts for breakfast this morning and having mountian milk in my coffee. Excessive? No, just a delightful, darylicious way to start your day.
They have the life. They get to summer in the mountains, surrounded by amazing scenery and changing pastures a couple of times a day. They drink from tubs like these. Note the one below is made from a hollowed out log.
The only down side is that you can’t make a run for it, not that you would want to anyway.
This says: “Please please close the gate thank you”
Note the not one, not two, but three strands of barbed wire below. Keeping your cattle in is serious business.
We went to Gruyeres. It is adorable. They have a castle and the Geiger Museum there. The star attraction is the Gruyere cheese and the cheesemaking. We were most excited about heading to the beautiful mountains that surround the town. After a tour around the adorable town, we hiked the “Sentier des Frommageries”, the Cheesemaker’s Path (which starts in town and heads up into the mountains).
We needed sustenance for the hike so we bought wonderful sugary waffles in the town to take with us.
The hike was steep, but stunningly beautiful. We saw cows grazing at the high altitude. The Swiss believe that cows that spend the Summer grazing at high altitudes produce a special quality milk.*
When we reached the top, we were rewarded with meringues in fresh cream. Yum.
*We bought the alpine milk to put it our coffee and it was delicious. It is so good that it will make your leg shake. It definitely deserves its own special post.