13 March 2011

Alps Skiing sNot For Wimps

I apologize for writing a post that involves snow when we are all itching for Spring! But I think you'll find it interesting...

Although a long-time skier in the US, I have never skied the Alps. We chose Switzerland - home to Roger Federer, Swatch, Swiss Army Knife, and one of the two sovereign states with a square flag (the Vatican City is the other). You know I have a flag fetish, right? 

A beautiful country with four official languages - German, French, Italian, and Romansh. I see no English in that list, but we had no problem communicating. Sign language is such a universal language. So is Pictionary and Charades :)  Actually, my husband pulled out his high school German to get us around, but everyone spoke English quite well.

Racing Gate with a View

We are not accustomed to bringing ski maps with us or planning our route ahead of time. Typically we just follow signs and ski to the bottom of the mountain, wherever that might take us. This winging-it style didn't serve us well :)

We found ourselves very very lost (and alone) at the top of an expert run as our only way down with two kids in tow. My husband had been skiing while carrying our youngest for some time, for we learned a little late that a blue run is a US green run and a red run is a US blue run. Clear as mud? And that's what happened. The run was too advanced, and we found ourselves in a pickle. 

So do we take off our skis, walk however long to the train station, and risk getting arrested for jumping the train (tickets in the hotel)? Or try to walk down the mountain in our clumsy ski boots like a 'Man Vs Wild' episode?  

After much debate, a very long wait, much head scratching as to where it would take us, we took that train. It was 3p until we got lunch into our rumbling bellies. We wondered how many skiers slept on the mountain due to a wrong turn or poor planning.

Well, just the other day an English friend told me they did walk down the mountain because they missed the last gondola. They made it down the mountain by nightfall, scooting down rocky steep parts on their bum. 

Aside from walking and scooting, there were many modes of transportation on the mountain. And because the skiing was only above tree line, you take something to get back down the mountain. 

A little love on the TBar

And how about that TBar... I was riding by myself on the kiddie TBar, behind my oldest child. Somehow my skis got caught in a rut, I clumsily fell off, and it was a near miss as the TBar almost whopped me in the face - as if the whole world wasn't already watching.  I jumped right up as Will Ferrell would do, yelling 'Uh, I'm okay sweetie' (he didn't even notice I'd fallen). 'Don't you worry, I'll be up there in a few minutes' (he wasn't remotely concerned). My son just turned back around saying nothing. I'm one of those really cool moms about now :)

So I stood up real straight as I got back in line. With kids no taller than my knees. (Cool.)

Train & Chair Lift

What we saw: gondolas that held over 100 people. Paragliding, dog walking, igloos, snow bikes, snow parks, sledding runs, ski jumps onto a giant air bag (my husband tried this). The mountain is used in so many interesting ways. Tiki bars, lounge chairs with blankets, and hammocks!

Paragliding Chutes in Backpacks

Hammocks With A View

It was also intriguing what we didn't see. Employees. No one working the TBar - if you don't no how to ride it (like me), you shouldn't be on it. No one checking your ticket - automated scanner at turnstiles instead. No snowmobiles or ski patrol. 

Many of the buildings were beautiful works of art

View out of our window on the way to the airport

Loved this flashback to 'Catch Me If You Can' film with Leo DiCaprio  
Flight attendants of Emirates Airlines

Matching shoes and handbag too!

And because you know I also have a fetish for interesting signs

It was a really great family trip with lots of memories and an education for all of us - including the nude public steam rooms. We enjoyed the land of yummy cheese fondue, hot chocolate and warm spiced wine. 

And as my English friend said, 'Oh my gosh, it is so amazing that in North America you have Kleenex in the lift lines. That's so fabulous!'.  The Alps is not for wimps, map challenged, or runny noses :)

- all photos by me -

{ Join 'Around The World In A Day' Linky Party on Sat Mar 19th. Details here }


Laura said...

Hi!First of all,thanks for your funny comment on my blog! The purpose of my "PPP"post was just to wish you a great weekend! Do you know,my brother lives in a delicious little village near Cortina (Italian Alps).ohhhhh..such a dreamy place!
Great pics,as well!

TexaGermaNadian said...

This looks beautiful!!! And what great weather too. I am a little fearful to go skiing in Austria/Switzerland too. I have heard it just isn't the same at home, but call me a wimp (haha) I like my neaty lined, and well groomed ski runs. We tried to go to Austria at the end of January. That day it got down to -15 Celcius and had close to a meter of snow. What, they didn't know that this little Texan girl likes to ski in T-shirts at spring break, haha. Beautiful pictures though, glad yall had a great time!

Emma said...

Sounds like a wonderful holiday and I love the sound of Tiki Bars in the Alps! We have tissues in the lift lines in Australia too!

Laura said...

Ooooh I guess you ARE a smarty pants girl! Thanks for adding my blog to your sidebar! it already was in my plans to add you to mine..because this is the way I like blogging!
Have a great Sunday!

Jane said...

Ooh, you lucky duck, Laura. Loved it. Just fab. Sigh. J x

Ashleigh said...

Aaaah, I love this post!We went to Switzerland for a long weekend in November. We visited Zurich and Lucerne...I loved it! Absolutely beautiful, plus fondue AND chocolate...I still have to blog about our trip there...this also reminded me of our Recent trip in January to the German Alps, where I attempted to learn to ski and blew out my knee on the third day...so sad, but recovvery is going well and as they say...nothig ventured, nothing gained!

Kate and Russ said...

Love this post, Laura. Wonderful pictures! I will have to live vicariously through you on this one...we can't attempt a place without Kleenex!

Sailor said...

Beautiful Pictures!

Hines-Sight said...

Love, Love, Love your post today especially after I did that post on Austria. I love the buildings. Did you stay in that first building?

That was quite an experience.

flowers on my table said...

Oh my goodness you did have an adventure! I have never been skiiing because I am a bit of a wimp, but I really love the mountain scenery andthe pretty houses.Have a happy day, Linda x

American in Bath said...

Oh, it looks so much fun. I haven't been downhill skiing in twenty years. I'm such a rule follower, I would have walked down that mountain. Probably not a good sign for anyone traveling with me.

Colorin Colorado... said...

This is the only way I can enjoy the snow: looking at beautiful pictures!! LOL! Glad you had a great trip and glad you stopped by my blog. Thank you so much!

Michelle @Shellsshabbyshack said...

I find it interesting that so many other countries have adapted to speaking more than one language (fluently). Sounds like you were able to communicate, well. Charades is fun too, haha!
Breathtaking pictures, Laura! Good idea to take the train. OMGOsh... Looks like our black diamond would be a bunny hill there.
I enjoyed looking at your photos.
Have a nice day! :)

michele at hellolovelyinc said...

omg Laura you are hilarious and you had me at that very first pic with the Swiss flag (obsessed with crosses).


Javacurls said...

Hello! I can completely relate to your story. lol! My family was in a similar situation in Chamonix, France a few years ago. Being with young children and feeling like you're the only ones on the mountain is a scary feeling. But in the end when you're in the lodge sipping a hot drink recounting the day it makes for a great story. ;)

By the way, your photos are lovely. Especially love the one of the chalet.

Nieves R said...

Hello Laura, thanks for your visit to my blog and nice words in your comment and for becoming a follower. Thanks to that I have had the chance to discover a beautiful blog where I will come often, I like your articles and your photographs are great.

And of course I will be for your Expat Linky Party on March 19th, it sounds great and do you know, by the way, that on that day an important celebration takes place in Spain: Saint Josephs' Day (that is, Father's Day)?

Have a nice beginning of the week!

Debbie Beardsley said...

Thanks for the funny but serious post! It must have been frightening to be up on that hill with your children and realize you were in over your head! One reason why Apres skiing is just fine with me. A good book, warm fire and something warm to drink are just fine with me at times.

Your communication comment, ". . .no problem communicating. Sign language is such a universal language. So is Pictionary and Charades" had me laughing. It is so true and we have all been there!

Looking forward to more of your stories.

Katherina said...

lovely! Those hammocks with a view... that's where I want to be.

MNUKGIRL said...

You are frickin' hilarious Laura! I would have been LAUGHING MY ASS OFF at you on the T-bar....until I ran into you and bit it myself! :) OMG...we have to go skiing together!!! SO FUNNY! :) You crack me up! And BEAUTIFUL pictures by the way!!! It's gorgeous there!!! I cannot WAIT for our Belgium experience!!! :) Oh what fun things we'll find to blog about! :)

Susan Kane said...

such lovely photos, an awesome trip! Nothing broken makes it perfect! Glad you took on the Alps, and have a wonderful trip.

Sarah @ Modern Country Style said...

Hi sweets,

You sund as though you were so calm and collected up there on the mountain. I think I would have been blubbing like a baby!!! Well done for keeping your head in such a tricky situation.

I'm SO glad it all worked out!


richard said...

Great blog and tks for the nice comments on ours (casa azul). Here in Portugal the ski season seems to only begin at the end of winter and we are dying to get on the slopes soon. Re flag shapes - how about Nepal? that's a winner!

Brandi said...

Such a brave soul! I would have been at the top of the mountain crying like a baby waiting for help! Beautiful pictures!!! and now I know who to call on for my first ski lesson!!!

Privet and Holly said...

Laura, I give you
such kudos for skiing
the alps!!! I'd have
been the girl by the
fire in the chalet. I
cross-country ski but
I do not downhill, as
does the rest of my clan.
I'm too much of a scaredy-
cat for it! Sounds
like a wonderful adventure,
though and so beautiful.
xx Suzanne

Meri said...

What a cool blog! Your photos are really great, the blues and reds throughout make me want to head right over! I like the swiss flag too :)

Pig in the Kitchen said...

I LOVE Switzerland for skiing! We may have been there at the same time, but thankfully we didn't have to contend with the weird gondola train thing.

We did also find ourselves half way down a red run with 4 kids late in the day and only then realised that it was a little beyond the skill of the - ahem - 5 year old. Husband had to ski and carry her, over moguls and ice. I tried not to look. But all safe and sound, life is for living, right?! Pig x

Ada said...

Wow, beautiful pictures. Sounds like a great weekend, even if you did get stranded on the side of a mountain. Yikes!

Raine and Sage said...

What a wonderful trip. I loved all your photos. The worst bruise I've ever had in my life (my whole thigh from groin to knee) was courtesy of a TBar.
I've never seen a dog/escalator sign before. So peculiar!
I love my Swiss watch (Longines) and cheese. I feel so inept only speaking the one language.

flowers on my table said...

Thanks for the comments. I love the art work at the top of your blog, by the way. Linda x.

Sara Louise said...

Love the 'Catch Me If You Can' flashback! And the Swiss flag is one of my favorites :-)

Robynne's Nest said...

Hi Laura, I'm so glad the tbar didn't hit you in the face...wouldn't be nice! I loved your photos, especially the hammocks..what a scream! I'm also very impressed that you are a skier (or anybody for that matter), as I'm hopeless..I mean I can trip over my own shadow..so no hope! Looked like a lovely holiday! Robx

lisaroyhandbags said...

What a great post! Being a non-skier, it's something that I'll never experience so it was so great doing so through you! I don't think I would have been anywhere as cool as you were during all of that! with kids in tow to boot! :)

Melissa K @ Lulliloo said...

It looks like you've had an amazing time Laura - albeit a little nerve racking ending up on the wrong slope with kiddies in tow! - Melissa xx


I loved this post and I'm glad you came by my blog. I am your newest follower. I love the architecture of the buildings and their colors.

Lisa @ Lesapea xx

maría cecilia said...

Hola Laura, it seems a very intense and kind of risky ski time in the Alps, besides the beautiful surroundings you and family met.

~*~ saskia ~*~ said...

Oh now I want to go skiing again!
Enjoy the rest of your week, Laura xxxx

Sabrina said...

How funny! I am German and usually went to ski in the Aples or Dolomites. This weekend we skied in New Mexico instead. Just as much fun, but some things are different :) Just wrote a post about it too! Must be the season. Looking at your pictures really reminded me again how different the views are in these much bigger resorts in Europe!

The Southland Life said...

soooo glad i found your blog!!! it's WONDERFUL! let the stalking begin ;) thank you for stopping by the southland life! new follower! xx. katie

Chrissy...The Apothecary Shop said...

Hello from Canada!!! WOW what a fab. post...love it! Thanks so much for coming by, happy to meet you too! x0

Mlle Norvegienne said...

Wow, really beautiful photos! And fun to see how it is in Switzerland as I live very close to the French Alps myself; the mountains look quite the same, however the architecture is very different. Seems like you had a wonderful trip!


ohabbyreally said...

What amazing pictures! I LOVE LOVE LOVE the second one. Great holiday! x

linda@adventuresinexpatland.com said...

It's been quite a few years (hmmph) since I last skiied, but this post has inspired me. Very funny. Loved the Will Ferrell bit on the T-bar: I'm visualizing what could be his next film!