Uncategorized

Holidays to Switzerland Travel Podcast Episode 92 Transcript

May 25, 2024 Last Updated on May 25, 2024

Uncovering the delights of the Emmental Valley

You can see the full show notes and listen to this episode > here.

Hi, and welcome to episode 92. I’m your host Carolyn and I’m thrilled to have you join me today to learn more about a region that flies under the radar for most international tourists.

The Emmental region – or Emme Valley – is part of the canton of Bern and is characterised by lush, rolling green hills.  It’s where the world’s most famous cheese, Emmental is produced – yes, THAT cheese with holes – and it’s also home to Switzerland’s most famous biscuits.

To tell us more about this beautiful valley, I’m joined today by Hana Hurabova. Since moving to Switzerland a decade ago, Hana has made it her mission to explore as much of the country as she can, and the Emmental is one of her favourite places. She shares her favourite things to see and do in the valley with us today.

Hana’s love of Switzerland and her extensive local knowledge mean that she is often asked by other travellers to help them with their Swiss travel plans. Because of this, she now offers a tailor-made itinerary planning service, which we’ll hear more about shortly.

I’m sure you’re going to really enjoy this episode as Hana’s enthusiasm for the Emmental is bound to inspire you to visit this stunning part of Switzerland.

Hello Hana. Thanks very much for coming on to the podcast. Now,I know from our previous chats we’ve had that you’re not a Swiss native, so would you like to tell us how you came to be living in Switzerland?

Yeah, so I’m originally Czech and we came to Switzerland ten years ago or almost ten years ago and as a family it was that time only with two kids, two boys, and the youngest one was born here in Switzerland eight years ago. That means I’m mum of three kids and yeah, we came to Switzerland because of the job of my husband, so he got a job here in Switzerland and yeah, it was first planned just for one year and now we’ve been living here for almost ten years, life happens.

So you’re definitely locals now?

Yeah, I feel like local. Good.

And where about in Switzerland do you live?

Yeah, I live pretty close to Bern, to the capital of Switzerland and let’s say 20 kilometres from Bern or 20 minutes by train. So it’s pretty handy to have the capital of Switzerland really so close, because I love Bern and I like to take trips there just to walk through the city because it’s a beautiful, beautiful city and you can easily walk there even if it’s raining. It’s pretty compact with the, I don’t know how to say it pronounced in English but in Deutsche. In German it is Lauben.

Arcades.

Yeah, covered arcades, yeah. So it’s nice even when it’s raining.

Good. So since you moved to Switzerland, have you had a chance to explore much of the country?

Yeah, ten years is a pretty long time to explore this tiny little country. Yeah, we had really beautiful country and yeah, first we started with our surroundings, the local villages, towns here and then not far away is burnish Oberland, it’s pretty popular and then we also get a chance to get further. But Switzerland, it’s a tiny country but the distances can seem a little far, far away for you.

It’s not an issue to travel 4 hours to get someplace, but here, when you are used to that, all the places are within an hour each or half an hour, then travel through all the country, 4 hours to Graubunden or to Davos, it’s pretty far away. So I must honestly say that the part of Graubinden, the biggest canton of Switzerland, I don’t know much yet, maybe some parts but not the whole. I’m pretty, I know pretty well the area here in the Bernice Oberland, but also in the Jura mountains, it’s towards France and Germany. So these parts of Switzerland I know pretty well.

Okay, well, I’m sure that there’s always some place that you haven’t visited. And it sounds like Gralbunden might be a region that you might need to go and visit a bit more frequently.

Yeah, I would love to, but to travel by train or by car, four or 5 hours, it’s like I have to. Back in the Czech Republic, I was with girl scouts, so I was quite an outdoorsy person at the time. And with my parents we used to take trips by train, know, just walking to different places to visit castles and this kind of stuff. So moving in Switzerland, it was like, yeah, it’s in my. So from the immediate start here in Switzerland, I wanted to explore. I’m curious what’s here in the neighbourhood.

So, yeah, we started exploring and I really embraced this passion that Swiss people have. And I’m also really glad that my kids love it too. So, especially now my youngest daughters, she’s a keen hiker. No distance is a problem for her. So I’m really happy that at least she’s maybe too small just to say, oh, mother, another treat. My oldest one sometimes say it’s not cool for him anymore to take a hike in the nature, but the youngest one is still a keen hiker, so she loves hiking with me.

That’s great. And what about in the winter? Do you all get on the ski slopes?

Yeah, I was with my daughter this weekend, last weekend, went skiing, and now the ski holidays are coming, so we plan a whole week of skiing. So, yeah, we love it. But the problem is we don’t have time for skiing because all three children that are playing ice hockey and the ice hockey season collides with the ski season and the plays and tournaments are taking place during the weekends, and then there’s no much time left for skiing. But, yeah, we also love this swiss passion.

Okay, great. Now you have your own website about Switzerland. How did that come about? And what sort of things do you cover on website?

Yeah, originally it wasn’t a website about Switzerland. These times 2012, it was just a blog on the blogger platform. And it was like, kind of there for myself. But when we moved to Switzerland 2014, it somehow transferred into website about Switzerland because in that time, I didn’t have any social media and I didn’t have Facebook, I didn’t have Instagram. And the only chance to show my parents or our parents or family and friends in the Czech Republic was to show them through the website. So first of all, there were low quality photos of all the beautiful places in Switzerland. So just to show them and just to tell them we are safe, we are happy and so on.

But then in, let’s say, 2016, I started also to write in English because I realised the time that there are lots of expats want help to see Switzerland as well, but they don’t have any information or any tips where to go. So I started to write also English and then my first language, let’s say, is German because I wanted to learn German to integrate myself in Switzerland, because we are living in the German part of Switzerland and I somehow got tips from the locals where to go with kids and which place to visit.

And I wanted myself to be also a guide for local people here in Switzerland, for local families. And my friend, she told me, okay, but when you want to be a local guide for local people, you have to write in the local language. And it was a challenge, quite a challenge for me because I was into german courses that time and my children, they spoke even better German than me because the children, they learn pretty quickly and they absorb the language.

But for me it was still pretty hard to learn another language. But I decided to give it a try and I started a website, also in German. And slowly it has become bigger and bigger and bigger. And now every place I go, I write a blog post in free languages so that everyone has a possibility to read it and to go there to visit this place. So yeah, I’m just trying hard. But yeah, it’s a place where people can find information in three languages.

Yeah, fantastic. And what a great effort. I know the effort that it takes to write a blog post in one language, let alone in three. So well done.

When you are learning something, you have to find a passion or the way how to learn it in a way you like. So writing was a possibility for me to learn, learning by doing what I like.

That’s great that you can share those tips with people, as you say, in three different languages. So there’s a possibility for everyone to get that information. Now, I’m sure that there are lots and lots of places in Switzerland that you love to visit, but is there a place that you think is it overlooked and perhaps most tourists that are coming to Switzerland don’t know much about?

I would say, yes, definitely there are lots of those places. But for me personally, this place is called the Emmental Valley. It’s not so far from where we live and not far from Bern and this beautiful valley with a beautiful countryside full of farmhouses and gently rolling hills. Is pretty overlooked by the tourists and it’s not so far from the well known Bernese Oberland, but it’s quite hidden from tourists.

Okay, so you said it’s not far from Bern. Is it easy for people to get there?

Yeah, it’s only half an hour train ride, for example, to get to Trübschachen. Trübschachen is a small village in the Emmental. And this small village is pretty known for Kambly biscuits, maybe you know them in Australia because I think they export also worldwide, let’s say. So in this tiny Emmental village, these biscuits are produced and sold and it’s a worth a trip because they have a huge shop with all these sorts of biscuits and you can try them for free. It’s pretty sweet to go there for kids and there’s quite, not a show, but they will explain you how the factory or the company was founded. And then there’s a cafeteria and they offer also kind of courses where you can make your own biscuits or decorate chocolate on this stuff. So yeah, it’s only half an hour train ride from Bern and also it’s on the line from Lucerne. So on the train line that connects Lucerne and Bern. So somewhere in the middle there is Trübschachen. So it’s really easy to get there.

And the second place I would like to mention, because I hope everyone knows the famous Swiss cheese, the Emmentaler cheese with holes. So Emmentaler is produced in the Emmental in this hidden welly. So they have also dairy produced factory and a guided tour through this factory and you can, for example, have a brunch there or you can rent an ebike to explore this countryside. So, yeah, it’s quite beautiful there.

What are the other highlights that you think of the valley?

So the highlights are, now these two places, Kambly and this cheese dairy tour in the Affoltern. The village is called Affoltern in Emmental. You can get there only by bus, but getting there by car is pretty easy. And as I mentioned, the hill countryside. It’s pretty nice to drive through in the car or on the e bike. And there are lots of hiking paths, you know, and there are beautiful, beautiful views of the alpine peaks when you get to, for example, Leug viewpoint and then when the weather is nice, you see all the alps, all the peaks, Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau. So yeah, the views are really panoramic from there. So especially the Leug viewpoint is also my favourite place to get there in the afternoon. And just to walk, be there and breathe and just to take really the feeling that you are here and you’re enjoying life in Switzerland.

And I’m guessing because the valley is Emmentaler cheese that there’s plenty of cows in the area.

Yeah, there are over 100 dairies or local farmhouses, so there are lots of cows.

So if someone is coming to Switzerland and they really want to see cows, that would be a great place to.

Definitely.

And for those that aren’t familiar with Switzerland itself or the geography, when you’re looking at a map of Switzerland, if people are familiar with the Bernese Oberland, you’ve got Lucerne to the east and in the middle, but let’s say to the west in this case, and you’ve got Interlaken in the middle with the two lakes either side. The Emmental valley is on the other side of lakes, on the north side, is that correct?

Yeah, it’s correct. On the north side of is also on the north side of Lake Thun. There’s also a small mountain range, but when you get over this mountain range, you get to this landscape.

So people that are coming to the area, let’s say, coming from Lucerne, they can travel one way via the Bernese Oberland, go on to Bern and then go back to Lucerne, the other way via the Emmental Valley to get a change of scenery.

When you travel from Lucerne to Interlaken and then to Bern, so on the ride back, you can stop in the Trübschachen just to soak up the Emmentaler culture, let’s say. And also the architecture is pretty nice and it’s pretty different from, I would say, other parts of Switzerland because here are the large farmhouses with really wide roofs and it’s a pretty different style.

And also there’s this kind of specialty of the nature, these rolling hills. There are trees, single trees on the top of the hills. And it’s also typical for this valley. It’s not only meadows, but also trees. And there is a single tree standing on top of the hill and it’s also in the logo of the Emmental Valley.

Right?

Wonderful. So if someone is listening to this and they think yeah, I’d really like to go and have a look at the Emmental Valley. If they’re staying in Bern or Lucerne, let’s say, should they allow the whole day for their visit or can they do it in less time if they don’t have quite so much time to spare?

Yeah, if they don’t have so much time I would say just visiting the Kambly factory is enough for a half day trip because during the train ride you also see the landscape from the train windows and you can admire that. But if you want to get to know the area properly I would say one day would be nice because as I said, you can rent an ebike, there are lots of marked trails for ebikes and just you can enjoy it. And if you have a car you can really drive through these picturesque roads in the hills. So I would say yeah, and just to stop and take this view and take pictures of course. So I would say if you want to get to know this area well and see not everything but the main part, I would say one day, but just if you are only passing by from Bern to Lucerne, just a quick stop in Kambly factory, I would say it’s okay.

Oh well that’s good. Now I think planning itineraries for visitors to Switzerland is something that you really enjoy. Can you tell us more about the itinerary planning service that you offer?

Yeah, it’s a pretty simple process because I’m offering this on my web page. There’s not only blog posts but also an eshop where you can choose how long you would like to stay in Switzerland if it’s less than one week or one week or more than two weeks. So there are different categories of the stay and you just easily put the order and then I will get in touch with you. We’ll make a phone call or Zoom call, let’s say.

And then during this call that lasts, let’s say half an hour, we go deep into your preferences because on the website I have some rolling boxes. You can tick the option that you would like, for example to travel here by car or public transport or you would like to see the mountains or UNESCO heritage sites. But during this conversation we are really going deep. I ask if you have been to Switzerland before or what you have heard about Switzerland, what are the places you would like to visit? If they are the places you really want to visit or these are the places you only heard about and you are not sure if you fit.

Yeah. And then after this call I will be sitting at my desk, in my computer and putting this itinerary together. And let’s say it takes two weeks to prepare the whole itinerary for your trip.

So what sort of information do you give to the clients when you’re presenting them with their itinerary?

Yeah, so the most important thing is that I’m not booking the train rides or the hotels, that you have to do it yourself. But I give you tips for the hotels of the area. So, first of all, I introduced Switzerland. And maybe the tricky part or something that can surprise you. For example, that we have different plugs here and sockets here. It’s information you need to know. And that, for example, that Switzerland is a non-EU country, so you need to passport to get here. And for example, because of the roaming, people that are coming from Europe and this Schengen area, the roaming costs the same in each country, but in Switzerland it’s different. So I have to be prepared for the situation.

And then there’s a kind of overall or overview. And there are also links to different important websites. For example, Meteo website. So at least three links to the Meteo website. Links also to a website where you can search timetables. Not only SBB app, but also other sites, when you can find this information. So these important links I’m giving you. And then also, for example, the information about the shops here, because not everyone wants to eat in restaurants here in Switzerland – you have to shop, you have booked your apartment with the kitchen, so you have to do some grocery shopping.

So I will give you a list of grocery shops, local shops, maybe you know them, Coop, Migros, but also we have Lidl, Aldi and some small local shops, and information about the currency. And if you have car, do you need to buy a vignette, the stamp on the car. So all these important information I’ll give you at the beginning of the itinerary, let’s say it’s two pages, then I will present the areas or your plan for the day.

So, for example, if we agree that you would like to stay in the Bernese Oberland and you would like to hike a little, so I will give you all the information needed. That means, okay, you will take this gondola up to Grindelwald First, then you will hike three kilometres to the Bachalpsee and then get back. And then there is this First Cliff Walk in Grindelwald. Then there are lots of activities you can try. If you are not into these activities, you can take the cable car down to the village and just walk in the village or see other places. So it’s a day by day, let’s say from morning till the evening. And for example, if you want tips for restaurants, I can find you, let’s say, three restaurants they would suit you. It’s quite an ebook, let’s say. Maybe sometimes it can get to 40 pages because there are tonnes of information, but I personally think they are really important for people to have.

And I think too, so many people, it can just get so overwhelmed. There’s so much information out there on website, on yours, on mine. There’s so many different websites with all that information. It just can be so overwhelming. You just really don’t know where to start. So to have someone like you who does this all the time and knows Switzerland so well is such a help. So, yeah, fantastic. What a great service.

I’m doing my best. Thank you. Good.

I’m sure you are. Now, you’ve kindly offered our listeners a discount off that itinerary planning service. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Yeah. So, first of all, I’m really thankful that I could put my link to my website through your website. And it doesn’t mean that when people come from your website or they go directly to my website, it’s called. Yeah, we haven’t mentioned it yet. It’s ourswissexperience.com. So when you get to the eshop, there is also a slide box with a promo code. And the code is holidays in Switzerland five. So HTS5. HTS5. And then they get a 5% discount off the price of the itinerary.

That’s right. So the code is HTS5. And I’ll put that in the show notes. So if people don’t remember it, they can look that up. Now, you mentioned your website there, ourswissexperience.com. Where else can people find you on the World Wide Web?

Yeah. So I’m pretty active now. At that time, I didn’t have social media. It’s over. I’m pretty active on Instagram now. I’m passionate about Instagram. So Our Swiss Experience is also my Instagram name and then also my Facebook. But honestly said, I’m keeping the Facebook maybe for my Czech followers. A lot of information are there really in Czech but Instagram, it’s either in English or in German. 

Okay, great. Well, I’ll put all those links in the show notes as well. Thank you very much Hana for chatting to us today, and I hope you’ve encouraged or inspired people to think about visiting the Emmental Valley, firstly, and also for those that are struggling putting their itinerary together, they now know where they can go to get some help. So thank you very much.

Yeah, thank you for having me. And have a nice day. And I would like tell everyone just to come to Switzerland to explore this beautiful country. It’s really amazing.


Oh dear!  The Emmental Valley has just been added to my ever-growing list of places to visit in Switzerland.  Is it on your must-visit list now, too?

For more information about the places that Hana mentioned, head on over to the show notes for this episode.  I will also add some of Hana’s photos of the Emmental so you can see for yourself just how gorgeous it is.

I’ll also include links to Hana’s website and social media accounts, and the details of her tailor-made itinerary planning service – and her generous discount offer for our listeners.  

You’ll find those show notes at holidaystoswitzerland.com/episode92

Thanks so much for joining me today.  Until next time, tschuss.

You can see the full show notes and listen to this episode > here.