Day Trip: Food Museum in Vevey, Switzerland

It’s the Spring School Holidays now. So i thought i would highlight another little kid-friendly excursion we took. We went to the Alimentarium (Food Museum) in Vevey last October, during our Autumn School Holidays. It was a lovely autumn day, the sun was shining and the air was fresh; we could not have asked for a better day 🙂

i decided that we would really make it a full day out. So instead of just taking the train directly to Vevey and then a bus to the museum, we went the long way – we took the train to Lausanne and then the Metro to Ouchy. From there, a luxurious boat ride to Vevey.

Here's us on the boat from Ouchy to Vevey.

i packed a light lunch and we ate on the deck of the boat, enjoying the beautiful scenery. My photos hardly do justice to the real thing.

Above: View of Ouchy from the boat, you can see the Olympic Museum along the shoreline. Below: Passing hills covered with vineyards.

Tobias loved the boat ride!

Isn't this just the life? Lakeside teatime.

We got off at the Vevey jetty and stopped at the Kiosk there for “walk-along” ice cream. We took a lovely walk along the shore and came across this relaxing lakeside cafe.

Just a couple of minutes walk from this cafe is the Alimentarium. I love how museums in Switzerland are housed in buildings which deserve to be in museums themselves. This building was simple and regal, surrounded by a herb and vegetable garden; all part of the museum’s efforts to be an all-rounded education point.

Looks like a palace, doesn't it?

The first level of the museum is filled with stations where you can learn all about the different types of food we eat, the food pyramid, as well as food through the centuries. It was really interesting to learn about the different types of food people ate long ago, then click a switch, the panel turns and you have food from today. The stations were not boring information dumps but are fairly good interactive activities. See how engrossed my little guy was, learning the food pyramid. There was also a big card game you could play after you are done with computer activity (in the foreground of the photo below).

Headphones on and eyes glued to the animation about the food pyramid.

That was just half of the first floor. Then we went up to the second floor and this went further into what happens when food enters our bodies and how we view food, treat food and even about food shopping culture. There were real product boxes on shelves and in between there were again informative stations with great little animations.

Shopping Carts showing how food shopping has changed through the years.

There were also some stations which talked about transportation of food. But Tobias loved the one which showed him what happened to the food in his stomach; how bacteria broke down the food and the different enzymes.

Absorbed in learning about food absorption in our stomachs.

The second half of the second floor showed the link between exercise and food. There is even a big human-sized hamster wheel which you can try running in and know how much fat you burnt. There are also tasting stations which dispensed little tablets to test if you know can tell the difference between sweet and salty. We didn’t do too well – heheheee 😉

That floor also had a little quiz corner which allowed you to find out what type of eater you were, whether you were a  gourmet or just your everyday omnivore.

By this time, my 7-year-old was ready to call it a day. i don’t blame him. It was a lot to take in, especially for a little guy. i mean it was interesting, very hands-on and all but a little boy can only last that long and absorb that much information. So we gave the third floor a miss. The third floor housed a special exhibition about food in different countries. Singapore was mentioned for that one and i really wanted to see it but i settled for the special newspaper published just for the exhibition. This special exhibition changes all the time, currently the new exhibit is under construction and looks to be really interesting.

Anyhow, we decided a snack was in order. So we went to the little cafe in the museum, at the back of the first floor. They serve very simple pastries and sandwiches and were already half-shut for the day but the lady was so very nice and warmed a cheese sandwich for us, and we got tea and fruit juice to wash it down before we headed for home; the direct train route this time.

Cooking Class in French, anyone?

On the way out, we walked through an industrial sized kitchen and the bunch of students who were running around the museum with their class questionnaire before, were all standing around the bench, listening to a chef tell them about food preparation and cooking. It was all in French so i did not understand anything at all. i asked the information desk and was told that schools often bring kids here to learn about food and digestion which i think is a fantastic thing. However, the cooking class was only in french.

It was a lovely day out for us. So i hope this will help you plan another little outing with your kids. Just remember little ones do get tired to don’t expect too much from them 🙂

syc

Hot Air Balloons Galore!

So on the last Saturday of January, while Husband was off helping a colleague move, Son and i went to see the International Ballooning Festival in Château-d’Oex, Switzerland.

i had heard about this festival a couple of years ago and always wanted to go but we either had something else to do or were not here for it. So this year, i decided we just had to go. And we went.

The day started out lovely, cold but nice enough. We took the train from Montreux up to Château-d’Oex. The scenry went from this…

View from the train on the way up the mountain.

…to this in a space of 30 minutes!

About 2 or 3 stations before ours

It was lovely to be up in this winter wonderland. We haven’t had much snow at our level.

However, all that snowfall (it kept on falling in big fat flakes while we were there) means that it is bad weather and poor visibility for ballooning, the balloons were not going to take off. But they did inflate them so that the people who did come to see them will have something to see.

Here they are inflating the famous Scotsman. i was taken aback at how huge the balloons were.

See how that man could easily fit into the Balloon Scotsman’s mouth!

Here’s the Scotsman, fully inflated.

Here’s the Scotsman at full size, see the other balloons around it… lots of different colours and design.

So we stayed till they started to deflate some of the balloons and we went inside the big ‘warehouse’ and had some lunch. (Tobias got his first taste of cotton candy – he had fun but i don’t think he will be asking for one too soon.)

The whole village takes this ballooning thing very serious. They have a special display or it could be called a museum just for the sport of ballooning. We did not see this because i don’t read french and had thought it was only meant for organisers and information only. i realised too late that it was opened to public.

Here’s a little display in a bakery window which i like very much – just to show you how much they are into this ballooning thing.

Don’t you just love an edible display? :p

Tobias really enjoyed himself, even though it was cold and mummy was a little grumpy about it. So all in all it was a good day out.

Here we are, happy and smiling, glad that we braved the weather and came and saw.

i would recommend it to families with kids who are fancinated with flight and flying. Oh, people brought their little sleds with them, there was a little hill next to the launch site where kids could sled. Next time we’re bringing ours.

syc

Trip into the World of Strange & Wonderful…

A few months ago, it was the autumn school holidays and we did a couple of outings to places of interest in and around Switzerland. And seeing that there will be another school holiday in just 2 weeks, i thought it would be good to introduce people to one of the places we went to, which i found to be most interesting and would definitely be visiting again – the Technorama, Swiss Science Center.

Right from the word go, it was all hands-on, which is absolutely great for the kids & for me too (i am a tactile person, i love to be able to touch, do, experience it for myself.).

Here Tobias is having fun with the hands-on water fountain outside the centre as we waited for our friends to arrive:

Fountain outside Technorama

Tobias is turning a hand wheel which then moves a gear which works a pump which brings the water up the pipe and then it pours down a water wheel. He learnt that a small action can do big things when the right gears and pumps are in place.

The center covers so much – almost every area of science is covered. There are rooms for sound, light/vision, magnetism/electricity, mathemagic, mechanics, perception, water/nature/chaos, toy trains, and even a Youth Laboratory.

We tried to cover as much as we could – we stayed the whole day, from about 11am till closing at 5pm (they open at 10am) and i think we only covered maybe half or a little over half of all the exhibits. It was also quite slow moving as the kids wanted to try their favourites again and again. But we had so much fun.

Here we are trying out the special light effects room:

Light Projection Effects

We stood in front of some different coloured lights being projected from the ground and saw the effects on the wall opposite. i think they were not ordinary lights – not sure what they are – definitely need to go back and find out more.

Light Effects

Here we are at another light effects section:

This time it was ordinary light. This one showed how different coloured lights combined to form another colour. Sort of like the colour wheel.

There was also displays which allowed you to understand about static electricity, try out different mechanical setups, play with the pendulum effect, view the earth from space, learn about the effects of water.

Here we see the effects of water on dry ice:

The Mesmerising Dry Ice Experiment

We spent a whole lot of time here. Little bits of dry ice were transported on a little conveyor belt onto a slide which brings them gently in contact with the pool of water. Then they started to spin around wildly, like mini speed boats as the carbon dioxide inside them is released. Tobias kept wanting to watch this. He wasn’t the only one. There were a fair number of adults also mesmerised by this hypnotising experiment.

Of course there had to be a train room which house lovely toy trains. There were several large landscapes setup for the trains to run around in. The other fun thing was the bubble section where you could make, or at least try to make, giant bubbles 😉 We also got to make smoke signals and watch sand fall in lovely patterns.

My favourite section would be the puzzle section. They had set up tables with all sort of brain teaser puzzles. i was in puzzle heaven 😀

The Youth Laboratory was also a fascinating room. They had a couple of staff members who wondered around helping you understand what the experiment was about. There were experiments showing light refraction, comparing amount of light each material let in. We did not do all of them, some were just too hard for Tobias to understand or be interested in. The one which Tobias loved was the one which recorded an explosion and allowed you to play it back frame by frame and watch exactly what and how it happened.

As i said before, we only did a little over half the experiments, so we would definitely be going back. It is a most wonderful place to spend a rainy, gloomy day or any day for that matter. So if you live in Switzerland or come to visit and have curious kids, this is the place to go.

Oh i would advice going by public transport if you are going during school holidays, parking is fairly limited, unless you are the first ones there. It can be quite a walk.

syc

PS: This is not advertising for Technorama. We have in no way benefited monetarily or otherwise in writing this. Simply want to share a place where kids can have great fun and learn at the same time.

EDIT: i forgot to mention that all explanations and instructions at each exhibit is nicely displayed on little wooded cards in 4 different languages – German, French, Italian and English. So there is no need to worry about not understand or not being able to explain anything to the kids.