As with my other recent posts I am writing this from my phone (currently in the Munich airport, but I can't imagine I'll finish before its time to board my flight) and will have to clean it up on my computer later.
Last week on Thursday Rebecca and I were going to go to Rigi, which had seemed like a good idea on Wednesday when we decided to go, but at 5:30 in the morning when I woke up to the sound of rain on the terrace, I thought it might not be such a good idea. Rigi is some distance from Zurich, but I checked the weather and it was calling for scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon. Scattered thunderstorms, 3 kids, a mountain and what are basically ski lifts didn't sound like the best idea. So I started googling things to do in the rain. After a bit I thought it would be better to change that search to things to do in the rain with children. As a result I found a blog detailing a trip to Läderach Chocolate factory. In the blog they talked about driving there, but a quick check on Google maps showed that we could get there pretty easily with the train. I found the website for the factory and it looked interesting.
After waiting for a more reasonable hour, I went to Rebecca's and shared the idea with her. She had no problem with changing our plans and this destination was easier to get to which was better not only for me (I was leaving EARLY the next morning for Berlin), but also for the kids.
Thus, we set out for a small town of Bilten. At first, everything seemed typical. Then we got to the station where we had to change trains. At first I was confused. 1) the train we were getting off of was going to the same place our next train was bound for and 2) we were exiting and then boarding from the same platform. As we got off it all quickly became clear. We were in basically the middle of nowhere. The train we were on only stops at "larger" stops and so we needed a more regional train. As we waited on the platform, I knew we were in for an adventure. There was just nothing at this train station and we were headed to an even smaller station. We arrived in Bilten and we could tell we were in an industrial area. It took a bit of work, but we found the factory and oh was it worth it!
We went into the store section and I asked about how we purchased tickets for the "Schoggi Erlebnis." The woman I asked said from her and so I explained that I wanted to purchase one adult ticket and Rebecca was going to want one adult and one child ticket (Children under six are nearly always free in Switzerland). Luckily the woman was observant and asked how old Jonathan was. I had forgotten that I had read that all children under eight were free. Jonathan was about two and a half weeks shy of his eighth birthday. After we paid, each person (including all 3 children) got a box of three chocolates and a souvenir spoon for tasting the chocolate in the fountains. At first I was a little concerned because she only put out four boxes of truffles on the counter, so I asked her if the small child (i.e. Lauren) didn't get one. She had been concerned because of the nuts, but after we told her that wasn't a problem Lauren got one too.
The tour was self guided with really good signs in English (matter of fact one sign was only in English). At the end came what I think was everyone's favorite part- the chocolate fountains. They had one station with the roasted cocoa nibs and a liquid form of bitter cocoa mass. We tried that first and poor Lauren didn't understand that the others were different. She kept wiping her mouth with a paper towel and refused to try any of the other chocolates until Rebecca force fed her some. Then she realized the others were good and if course then you couldn't get her away from fountains.
P.s for anyone who's curious I finished this from the apartment I've rented (for three days) near Cavtat Croatia.