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Our Visit to the Emmental

June 29, 2024 8:05 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

Spring Snow, Unlimited Cookies and A Guitar In Church

by David Schwartz and Andrea Veltman

The flakes fell in moist, quiet masses. We reveled as they kissed our skin, accumulated on our hats and parkas. It was a totally unexpected late-spring snowfall that enhanced the bucolic greenery of Switzerland’s Emmental region most famous to the outside world for its “holey” cheese that Americans refer to simply as “Swiss.” Trees that had already leafed out were now bedecked in white crowns; tulip petals grasped crushed ice like goblets awaiting a pour.

photo of the authors walking amidst snow covered trees

We had chosen to visit this region in part to behold its rustic loveliness but also because we’d had such a warm invitation from Servas hosts Jeannette Staiger and Ruedi Winistörfer. This trip was for visiting a mix of old friends and new the “old” dating back as far as Andrea’s Kindergarten days, and the new hosts we found in the Servas International host list. It was a new approach for us choosing the region based on the hosts’ interests and subsequent invitation, rather than vice versa.

photo of tulips in the snowThe Emmental has none of alpine Switzerland’s majestic travel poster vistas. It is a land of traditional, massive farmhouses and tiny country churches, woods, hillsides, high meadows and people who work the land and raise dairy cows. Jeannette and Ruedi showed it off to good advantage by simply letting us enjoy what is an everyday experience for locals a walk on the signposted trail that connects their village, Langnau, to the outlying farms. The snow that had fallen on newly emerged grass turned part of our route into a sledding slope without the sleds!photo of snow covered trees fading into a haze.

The next day we drove to famously picturesque Trub, a village of 1,300 from which the ancestors of some Amish in the United States emigrated. Trub was honored in 2019 with an award for Switzerland’s most beautiful village. We were enchanted by the many richly hued wooden farmhouses with wrap-around covered balconies. Our destination was the beautiful 17th Century Swiss Reform Church in the center of town, known for its ornate wooden interior and impressive organ. We were headed there for musical, not spiritual, purposes: the Trub Church is Ruedi’s favorite place to play guitar. He set up a small amp and began his session, playing classical guitar music dating from the era in which the church was built through the 20th Century. Our group of two was the entire audience, but acoustics and ambience are why Ruedi likes to play there, often accompanied by Jeannette singing.

photo of Ruedi playing his guitarinside Trub Church with

To hungry travelers like us, no visit to Langnau can omit a stop at the Kambly biscuit factory and shop, which includes a tiny museum in the back corner to give you a ‘healthy’ excuse for going there! Biscuits in Switzerland are not breakfast buns to be covered with gravy but what Americans call cookies. There’s no admission fee but there’s unlimited tasting. And how! Every one of the several hundred varieties is available for sampling. Just help yourself – no one is looking over your shoulder to make sure you don’t overindulge. And overindulgence it was – we didn’t have much of an appetite for dinner that night!

As is true for so many of us, we don’t explore what’s nearby: despite having grown up in Switzerland, Andrea had never spent time in the Emmental. Thank you, Jeannette and Ruedi, for spoiling us with good food, stories and a magical experience.


  • July 02, 2024 6:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    What a wonderful place to visit. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us. Your hosts, their music, the Kambly biscuit factory all sound marvelous.
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  • July 03, 2024 5:40 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Such a beautiful write-up of such a beautiful place. Thank you for sharing.
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