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 -

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