cows wearing flowers during alpine cow parade

Note—This trip has already occurred.

Do you love cheese?  Are you excited to see the cows coming down from the mountain—flower-bedecked, bell-wearing, in a parade to celebrate after a summer of grazing high in the Alps? Are you intrigued to watch cheese being produced the old ways – over a fire? Are you interested to taste Swiss wines, which are not known to many Americans?  Do you love chocolate and would love to know how its made?  If you are, drop everything and book the Oldways Culinaria to Switzerland! 

This tour included:

Spend 7 days immersed in Swiss life – Swiss cheeses – especially Le Gruyere AOP – chocolate,  Swiss food, history, and culture.  

Switzerland is a land of towering landscapes, gorgeous cities, towns and villages, spectacular cheeses and chocolates, and amazing wines.  We got to go way beyond what tourists typically see as we experienced the excitement of the annual Desalpes through the eyes of world class judge and cheese expert Cathy Strange and our friends at Gruyere AOP.

We experienced  all that is delicious and interesting about Alpine cheeses, chocolate,  food, wine, culture and history in Switzerland.  We explored from Zurich to Gruyere to Bern, and back to Zurich, with plenty of stops in between.

On our trips, you don’t just get to taste a fabulous meal—you get the recipes and knowledge to bring these ”old ways” home with you. In between all the excitement, you have time to shop, get to know your fellow travelers (fellow cheese lovers), and then relax in classic hotels at the end of the day! 

Registered Dietitians were eligible to earn continuing education credits.

Questions?  Please read our Travel FAQ here. Call us at (617) 896-4875, or email us at

Day-by-Day in Switzerland

Thursday, September 21, 2023 


Bienvenue! Willkommen! Check into the Alex Lake Hotel, take time to get settled and enjoy views of the lake, and then join us for a welcome reception and dinner and wine tasting at the Aqua Restaurant – Alex Lake Hotel.

Friday, September 22, 2023
Photo Jun 10, 6 12 07 PM.jpg

We’ll check out of the Alex Lake Hotel and go into Zurich for a Scavenger Hunt, followed by lunch at a traditional Swiss restaurant, Alepnrose, and then depart for Gruyere.  We’ll have a welcome cocktail when we arrive in Gruyere, followed by an evening cooking class/dinner at Fondue Academie!

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Photo courtesy Le Gruyere AOP

Today is not-to-be-missed la Desalpes!  We’ll drive to Charmey for this very special festival — after more than four months of grazing in alpine pastures, cows make their way down to the plain, wearing bells, flowers, crowns.  We’ll be right in the thick of it all, and afterwards, we will experience the Swiss tradition of the Benichon Menu.  We’ll return to Gruyere, where you will be free to walk, rest, or if possible, have dinner on your own.

Sunday, September 24, 2023
Photo courtesy Le Gruyere AOP

We will have an incredible morning – visiting the production of Gruyere AOP – over a fire – at René Pernet, de la Fromagerie du Haut-Jorat.  We’ll follow that with a visit to a winery with a tasting and free time before a very special Gruyere AOP Dinner.  

Monday, September 25, 2023

Check out of hotel in Gruyère, visit of the cheese cellar Fromco, and tasting. Lunch at Fromco. Depart for Bern and check in at Hotel Schweizerhofbern. Swiss Wine Lecture and Wine Tasting at Bar à vin Berne. Free evening in Bern – time to try one of Bern’s restaurants!

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Free morning and lunch, followed by a walking Chocolate tour of Bern – history, culture and chocolate tasting. Then, a beer tasting and casual dinner at Altes Tramdepot.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023


Our final day starts with a free time and then a return to the Alex Lake Hotel.  We’ll then take a boat cruise into Zurich and have a private tour of the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum, followed by a walking food and wine tour in Zurich.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Au revoir!  Auf Wiedersehen! Leave Zurich for the U.S., or additional travel.

See Your Beautiful Accommodations 

Alex Lake Hotel
The Alex Lake is a five-star boutique hotel on the shore of Lake Zurich, and overlooked by the Alps. Guests have direct access to Lake Zürich, and the private marina is ideal for a wide range of water sports. The hotel has two wonderful restaurants – Alex and AQUA.  The Alex is part of the Living Circle group of hotels and restaurants that source food and wine from their own farms.








In Gruyere
Our friends at Le Gruyere AOP have arranged our hotel accommodations in Gruyere.

Schweizerhof Bern and Spa
In the historical center, the five-star Schweizerhof is also historical, and with modern facilities.  IN addition to a bistro on the lobby level and a rooftop bar, the hotel has a spa and fitness center.









Meet the Expert You’ll Be Traveling With

Cathy Strange.jpeg

Cathy Strange joined Whole Foods Market in 1990 and has a wealth of food industry experience and expertise. As the global cheese buyer, she has become an authority at detecting international food trends during her travels around the world while seeking out vendor partners that meet Whole Foods Market’s strict Quality Standards. After selecting new partners, Cathy works diligently with the small producers to help them sustain a profitable business.

Cathy is a member of the American Cheese Society, the Cheese of Choice Coalition, the Cheese Importers Association, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Slow Foods USA, and Les Dames d’Escoffier where she serves as the President of the Austin Chapter. Her palate and expertise have been solicited all over the world to serve as judge for the American Cheese Society competition, the World Cheese Championships, the U.S. Cheese Championships, the World Cheese Awards and the British Cheese Awards.

Cathy serves as New World President and an ambassador for the distinguished international Guilde des Fromagers de Saint-Uguzon, the most celebrated association of cheese mongers and specialists in France. Cathy is one of the first Americans inducted into the prestigious guild of cheese trade professionals, recognized for comprehensive knowledge and attention to the merits of French cheese.

She has been an independent voting member of the Oldways Board since August, 2012.


Flights should be in and out of Zurich, arriving in Zurich by Sept. 21st, and departing Sept. 28th (unless staying on for additional, independent travel). 

Pricing and tour registration

This trip has already occurred


Medical Insurance

Oldways has procured medical and evacuation insurance for all Culinaria participants while traveling on one of our Culinarias with an Accident & Health policy from The Hartford.  Additionally, Hartford partners with International Medical Group (IMG), a leading global assistance provider, to give us 24/7 access to medical and travel assistance services anywhere in the world.  The policy also gives you as a Culinaria participant insurance for medical expenses, evacuation, and repatriation. 

Since 1990, IMG has offered travel assistance services and a global network of medical providers to millions of people in nearly every country around the world. Working across time zones and in different languages, IMG’s commitment to “Being There” provides end-to-end coordinated care – so you can feel secure while traveling. 

Please let us know if you need more information about the medical insurance.  

Travel Insurance

While we cannot offer travel insurance for the cost of the trip or your air travel, here are three widely used travel insurance companies:



Travel Guard by AIG