February 11th, 2012 – we set off from our home towards the Bernese Oberland, heading for Wengen, a carless (only hotels, delivery services, taxis and residents can have cars up there) mountain resort just above the village of Lauterbrunnen. It is the home of the International Lauberhorn Ski Races – both the downhill and slalom. We have always skied and visited the opposite side of that valley, the village of Mürren, which is slightly smaller but also quieter and more importantly where we can have a nightly meal of good Chinese food :p Oh, it is also the home of the James Bond mountain, Schilthorn, where In Her Majesty’s Secret Service was filmed.
Anyhow, this year we thought we could do with a change of scenery.
Isn’t it a pretty little village, way up high in the Swiss mountains?
Our dear friend, Andrew, joined us for the week. He flew in from Singapore just to come snowboarding with us 😉 Actually he came on a spur of moment decision last year at about the same time and liked it so much, he decided to come again this year.
Tobias was booked in for 3 half-days of ski school, unlike last year’s 5 whole days. He wanted to ski with us instead, which is great because he can ski with us now; and he’s actually faster than Mummy. So Daddy is the one who chases after him down the hill.
Here he was at the first day of ski school.
i was a little disappointed with ski school this year. Mainly because they weren’t sure where to place kids who had never been in their classes before. OK, really not their fault because each ski school has its own system and they just didn’t want to put a student in a class where they would find it too difficult. But i think that across Switzerland, all the ski schools should have one system of grading, then there will be no confusion for the poor students and they can progress better. So he was sort of stuck on the baby slope for 2 lessons. Only at the last lesson (his last lesson, other students went on for more days) did the instructor take them up the bigger training slope. However, he enjoyed himself which is the more important thing.
We took it nice and slow that first full day we were there. We just walked around the village, checking it out. There were other activities happening besides skiing. They have a fairly large area for skating and curling, a sport which i find rather amusing to watch; all those people with brooms to sweep the ice trying to slow down a large rock as they try to knock their opponent out – a little like playing with marbles, just bigger and with sliding involved 😉
The village itself is lovely and very picturesque – there are too many gorgeous photos to share them all here. We found an English Church tucked away at the back-end where the local school is. i wondered what the kids do during the high season for skiing – not sure if they were on holidays or not as it was a Sunday when we walked by the school. The lady we rented the chalet from actually used to live up here and her children went to the local school at that time. We also had some friends come up and visit just for that one day. The second day we had another friend come and stay for just one night. It was nice to have a bit of coming and going. Hope you guys had fun.
The chalet we rented is a quint old Swiss-style chalet, built in 1885. (i like living in a bit of history) It was not near the centre of the village but was a good 25 minute walk away, which gave us lots of peace and quiet; but getting a little boy to walk that distance after being in ski school for a whole morning, in his ski boots, was just not something i will want to do again. Here the boys were making that second last turn towards what was home for a week.
The first floor was all ours. Inside was really quite cosy. i love that lounge chair (not sure if that’s the correct word for it) in the living room. The 3 bedrooms and living room were all linked via doorways, but there were not actual doors separating each room, which i rather liked. Here’s a mosaic of the interior.
Our only complain was that the insulation wasn’t great; it is an old house. So we were freezing our little butts off those first few days as night-time temperatures dropped to below -17!
At this point, i would like to share a few things which took my fancy while we were up there:
The first 3 days we were up there, it was Siberian cold but the sky was clear blue and the sun graced us with it’s brillance. The 4th day was really a whole day of constant snowfall, visibility was limited on the slopes. We chose not to ski but still saw lots of people going up the slopes. Here’s a comparison of a clear day and a snowy day.
We headed to Mürren, with intentions of having a yummy authentic Chinese lunch. But it was not to be. They were closed for lunch that day – sigh! We settled, instead, for a very filling Swiss lunch of cheese, potatoes and sandwiches, which was very satisfying even if it was not what we were seeking. Then headed home for a relaxing late afternoon of doing nothing.
Here the men were settling into some reading. There was no TV in the chalet. We survived a week without TV. My little guy did well. He had his DS with him but was allowed only limited time on it. Other times he entertained himself with his books or with playing spy using the binoculars which were at the chalet. We also played card games, Uno and Monopoly Deal, every evening.
The men also helped with some housekeeping. After the heavy snowfall, it was important to clear the steps leading up to the chalet. Otherwise, the snow would freeze and there would be a high chance of slipping, especially when walking in ski boots. Here are Hubby and Friend, clearing the steps.
February 18th, 2012 – we left Wengen. It was a whole 19 degrees warmer (from -17 to +2) than when we arrived and the snow was already becoming slush on the streets in town.
All in all, it was a great week. We skied, we walked, we enjoyed nature (Thank You God), the men snowboarded, we went sledding and we relaxed… what more can you ask of a week away? 🙂
Already looking forward to next year – Mummy is hoping to take more lessons so she can keep up with the Son on the slopes 😉
PS: In the caption of the photo of the Sundial, i mentioned the Lauberhorn Race, we actually skied down a tiny part of that black run (for those who don’t ski – black runs are the most difficult) when we decided to try going home that way on our 5th day (on the map it said red run – middle difficulty). Very proud of us all, even though it’s just a few hundred meters of that run – all 3 of us made it down with only 1 fall each.