29 Mar

After all the sightseeing and culture in Istanbul and Munich, the Swiss leg of our holiday was busy in a very different way.  View from HouseNo sooner had we arrived at the amazing Alpine house of a family friend where we were staying near Tomils, than we headed straight back down to the village to rent our ski and snowboarding gear.

H and my brother-in-law have snowboarded several times before so were champing at the bit to get onto the slopes of Flims and Laax early the next day.  Since snow itself was still a novelty to me I decided to tackle the “easier” option of learning to ski.    To make the most of the short time we were there I decided to splurge on a two hour private lesson, which was well worth it.  I may still have been edging down the baby slope in the brake position by the end (trying to avoid the 3 year olds whizzing past like columns of brightly coloured penguins) but I felt pretty confident doing it and had had a lot of fun and remarkably few falls.  The real slopes still felt way beyond me, but I at least got my taste of going above the cloud line when I took the ski lift up the mountain to join the snowboarders for lunch at one of the many high altitude restaurants.  Flims ski slope2The views from up there are breath-takingly beautiful and the sunshine on the ice-crystals in the air makes everything glitter.  It’s almost enough to make you forget that you’re paying the equivalent of about R80 for a vienna and roll for lunch!

As much fun as my day learning to ski “properly” was, the cross-country skiing (langlauf) that I did with my sister-in-law after that was even more enjoyable because  it’s much easier to learn and then you can just go for it. Langlauf in Splugen For this our generous host Suzanne (an extremely fit 78 year woman who put us to shame with her energy) took us to Splügen which is a much smaller, less touristy ski spot that is very geared up for langlauf.  For the “classic” langlauf which we did you wear very narrow skis which fit into tracks cut into the snow, and your boots are flexible so you can slide along with the help of your poles.  There’s a wide path in between the tracks where the “skating” langlaufers come flying by like dancers, but we stuck to our trenches which took us on a gently undulating path through the fairytale forest, next to the frozen river.  It was very good exercise which even surprised the boys when they joined us on the last day as a break from snowboarding.  Enough to ward off the -12 degree chill!

Andeer Mineral SpaBack at the house overlooking the valley, without the numbing distraction of TV, our evenings tended towards wonderful lengthy homemade suppers, reading by the fire with tea and Swiss chocolate, and early bedtime.  Chill time at last.  On our last day we inevitably decided to pack in as much as we could though and after a final langlauf session in Splügen we met up with the rest of the family to visit the 12th century St Martin’s church in Zillis which has a ceiling decorated with 153 wooden panels illustrating the life of Christ.   After that we went on to the nearby town of Andeer where we went to Mineral Spa/Hot Springs.  As so many impromptu activities turn out to be it was one of the highlights of our trip for me. It was incredible to float around in what is essentially a steaming, bubbling outside swimming pool surrounded by snow, with an ancient church towering over you and the shiny Swiss Alps in the background.   Heaven on earth.  I’d love to say that that little detour was followed by a massage and nap, but it wasn’t.  Instead we barrelled back to the house to pack, eat an extravagant amount of Suzanne’s famous broccoli pasta for lunch, and pile back into our rented “bus” to head back to Germany for the last few days of our holiday.

I feel extremely privileged to have seen and stayed in such a beautiful part of the world, especially in Suzanne’s wonderful home with my generous extended family.

One Response to “Switzerland”

  1. Anne March 29, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

    A perfect read on a dark, damp and rather chilly day – nothing glamorous to look at except hitherto dessicated trees uncurling their leaves and bent under the weight of water not felt for an awfully long time: a miracle in itself. Langlaufing looks like fun and must be fairly strenuous – loved your description of the “brightly coloured penguins”!

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