The best thing about this tour is the good service and interesting commentaries provided by Karen. However , much improvement needed for the visit to the cheese and chocolate sites. In particular, there was no tour conducted at the Chocolate site. It was a stop over for purchase to be made. Best to include a detailed guided visit of these two sites and information about the making of Chocolate and cheese.
This was a nice little tour with an expert guide that took us first to a Lindt outlet store. I laughed because it was almost exactly like the one I visit on Long Island. Maybe the chocolate tastes different? We were told that the real chocolate factories in Switzerland are not equipped to handle guided visits in a hygenic manner, so this was the next best thing. I wonder how the prices compared to the airport duty free stores. Anyway, it was fun to visit Apenzell and see cheese being made as well as sample the various Appenzell cheese. I now know the differences and will look for them in the U.S. The ride up to the mountain would have been nice but unfortunately there were clouds that day. Overall, it was nice to get out of the city, walk around Appenzell, which was actually kind of quiet (best to avoid Mondays for this tour since some family-owned stores close on Monday and stay open on Saturday instead). Overall, it was nice to get out of the city and up into the mountains and see a bit of rural Swiss life where the only sound sometimes are the cowbells.
The tour of the cheese factory is not worth it. It is all in German, with really no English translations. The Maison de Gruyeres in Gryueres is a million times better.
The Lindt outlet is a convenience store-sized location. It is nice to be able to get things made in Switzerland, as it does taste better. I especially like the wafer thins!! Yes, you can get Lindt all over the world, but check where it is manufactured - not usually Switzerland. Really, this 'outlet' stop is a time to buy Lindt at prices you can get in the supermarkets.
Seeing the city of Appenzell was nice - very cute, quaint town. The guide gave a great walking tour however, there wasn't much time at all to shop and wander on your own.
AMAZING! I highly recommend this tour. By far, one of the coolest tours that we have done. Our group for the day consisted of 12 people including us. We started off our day with our tour guide Thomas and the Lindt chocolate store. You do not get to tour the factory. However, if you do some research chocolate shops normally don't let people in on tour to protect their recipes and ways. Still, the chocolate shop was pretty cool. There many different types of chocolate that I've never seen in the US before. And of course you do get two free pieces of candy, one on the way in and one on the way out. Thomas even brought a cooler with to keep our chocolates from melting. After that we enjoyed about an hour long scenic ride through the countryside to get to the cheese factory. We enjoyed our cheese tasting first. I know other comments complained about being given a repackaged box of cheese but we had a plate with some strawberries and walnuts and 5 kinds of Appenzeller cheese to try with bread there was more than enough for everyone. We all purchased drinks and sat down to enjoy the tasting. Then there was a small self-guided tour of parts of the factory. From there we were off to Mt. Hoher Kasten. We took the cable car to the top. At the top we enjoyed walking around and seeing some AMAZING views the weather was perfect. We also chose to eat at the revolving restaurant. I know other people said that it was over priced, I feel that it was the same price for other meals that we had in Zurich. Many of the items on the menu were all products from the town of Appenzel, just at the base of the mountain. There was enough time to enjoy the views outside and eat. Finally, we finished the day in the town of Appenzel. Thomas let us change the schedule a little. We went to the brewery together first. Then we went to the bakery and got to sample a local treat. Thomas took us on a small walking tour of the town and talked about the history and their voting system. Then we had about half an hour to ourselves to explore. I wish there would have been a little more time in the town but that is my only complaint. Overall, great day, small group, and truly a great taste of everything that Switzerland is known for.
The van is a comfortable Mercedes with room for 8. Our driver spoke good English and was very knowledgeable about Switzerland. I believe his name was Franz. The first stop was the Lindt chocolates outlet store with enough variety to sate any chocoholic. Then it was off to the foothills of the Alps for a stop at the Appenzeller cheese factory where you could taste different cheese selections included, and enjoy a local beer. Then to the factory to watch the cheese production. Now off to the mountains to enjoy a cable car ride to a mountain top restaurant that revolves and viewing platforms for fantastic views of peaks and valleys of the Rhine river area.
Our tour guide Martin was wonderful. Started with Lindt chocolate tour which was really not a factory tour, but rather a chocolate store tour that was connected to the factory. Health regulations prohibit factory tours. But it was a beautiful store with wide selection of chocolates which we all bought and enjoyed the free samples on entering. Next came the cheese factory tour which had a glass partition allowing a direct view of the production floor and cheese storage area. We had a marvellous cheese tasting experience with lovely cheeses, fruit, nuts, and bread. Drinks whether alcoholic or non alcoholic had to be purchased with the tasting - not a deal breaker. Then we went to a town and took an enclosed lift up an alp. Unfortunately it was foggy so no view, but I was assured it would have been a spectacular view but for the weather. So we ate at our expense at the revolving restaurant - it was OK but not special but with nothing else to do we connected with our fellow travelers. Had the weather been more cooperative we might have skipped the meal to take in the view. Lastly we went to a lovely small town for a descriptive walk about and grabbed a coffee. A return to Zurich ended a lovely if at times weather frustrating day. I should mention that Martin pointed out the farms, rolling hills, architectural elements and historical landmarks throughout the drive. Very informative. There were restrooms at every stop. Overall quite enjoyable and recommended.
Fantastic small group tour! Stopping at a factory Lindt chocolate store is first on the agenda. The whole drive is narrated by a lovely guide who will tell you anything and everything about Swiss culture as you drive to the city of Appenzell. Touring the cheese factory and having a tasting then up to the top of mountain you can opt out if wanted but I wouldn't suggest that and see the city of Appenzell from above and have a bite at a revolving restaurant while you see 4 countries from your view. Afterwards you are given a quick tour by the guide of Appenzell and then free to walk your own around the town before heading back to Zurich. The small group atmosphere and knowledgeable guide made this an absolutely must see trip. My husband and I loved it!