Throwback to Winter…

It has been warm, warm, warm… all last week and this week too… such unseasonal weather. So i thought i do a throwback to our ski holiday up in Flims, Switzerland. We were there about 3.5 weeks ago. It was our second time away from home with our Schnauzer, Lexi and the first proper ski holiday for her.

We had a lovely time. We took Tobias’ best friend with us and the boys had fun. The hotel was great, and right by the tal-station, which is fab. We enjoyed lovely, sunny, cold, wintery days on the slopes. The husband and boys ski while i walked with Lexi.

Here are some lovely wintery pictures to remind you that, actually, it is still supposed to be winter (according to the calendar, that is). Enjoy!


Ski Ferien… Ski Holiday… Part 2…

So here’s Part 2 as promised… if you missed Part 1, you can read it here.

This second trip we went back to Wengen. We were up there for a whole week with a good friend last year. You can read about it here.

So this time we chose to stay only 3 nights which meant that booking a self-catering chalet was out. You have to take a full week when renting holiday chalets. i got us booked into a nice hotel about 5-10mins walk (depending how fast your child would walk) outside of the main town of Wengen.

The Hotel Bellevue is a lovely hotel, which hosts the Lauberhorn Ski World Cup Competitors every January. Don’t expect to find rooms at that time. It is run by a very friendly couple, the service is very personal.

The room we were given was nice and big and very comfortably sleeps 3. i dare say it could sleep 4 even. It is well-advertised as a TV-free hotel which is great when what you have come to the mountains to do is to get away from it all 😉 We were picked up at the Wengen Train Station by the very nice owner himself, in his yellow electric taxi. Guests can store their ski equipment in town at the Central Sport, free of charge. Which is great as you really want to do as little dragging around of your skis as possible, especially with child in tow.

Here’s a view of the hotel itself:

i love the traditional look of the hotel.
i love how the hotel looks perched on the edge of the mountain.

i’m sorry that i don’t have nice pictures of the room we stayed in. We had all settled in and the room was already messy by the time i remembered i wanted pictures. But there was a feature of the hotel which amused me – the fire escape on every floor was out a window at the end of the corridor, usually covered by a plant. See…

And on either side of the fire escape on our floor, there is a toilet on the right and shower room on the left ;)
And on our floor, there is a toilet on the right and shower room on the left 😉

The view from the hotel is amazing. Have a look:

Left: View from the breakfast room, Right: View from our room window - it would have been better if it had been sunny that first day.
Left: View from the breakfast room, Right: View from our room window – it would have been better if it had been sunny that first day.

So what do people do to entertain themselves if there was no TV? Well, there is one TV, which is located in the lounge/bar area. But we only watched it for like 30-mins one of the evenings we were there.

A nice relax area.
A nice relax area with a full bar.

What i did love but didn’t have a chance to use was the very lovely reading rooms. Gorgeously decorated with Victorian-styled furniture, you could read all day in here. They even provide the books and board games.

i absolutely love those chairs!
i absolutely love those chairs, especially that big red one!

There is also an outdoor Jacuzzi, which again we didn’t use and a nice balcony area where you could soak in that amazing view i showed you before.

Jacuzzi with a view! That's the life...
Jacuzzi with a view! That’s the life…

The evening we arrived we went to visit Walter’s Uncle who runs a Chinese Restaurant on the other side of the valley in the resort town of Mürren. It was yummy Chinese for dinner, made more yummy by the fact that we had to travel out in the very cold evening for a good 40-mins before tucking in. It’s called Tham’s Restaurant and is the only Chinese Restaurant there. So if you are ever in Mürren, i highly recommend going there for great food.

Here we are having some fun while waiting for the train to take us back down to the valley and then another train back up the other side to Wengen.

Being silly in the cold...
Being silly in the cold…

We came back just in time to watch the Wengen Ski School put up their annual ski show. We watched this last year but it was really fun so we decided to watch it again this year. It was too dark and we stood too far for good shots of the show itself but the fireworks made great photos. They exploded as the trick skiers and snowboards jumped the ramp.

Fireworks always amaze me...
Fireworks always amaze me…

That first day of skiing was great but the weather was terrible. So much fog. We could hardly see where we were going on the slopes, quite scary for some parts. Tobias and myself gave up by about mid-afternoon and headed back. Walter stayed for a little longer.

The second day was fantastic! The weather was beautiful and the snow was good. Plus we had good friends come up and ski with us. The slopes are wide and long which makes for great skiing with a large group.

This was taken just before that fog cloud lifted... then it was clear all day!
This was taken just before that fog cloud lifted… then it was clear all day!

Here’s a shot of all the kids who were with us that day (oh no, we are missing one kid… she was skiing with her dad):

They were all great skiers/snowboarders.
They were all great skiers/snowboarders.

At the end of the day, we went back down to Wengen, had a hot drink and then caught the Rescue Dog Show. It was interesting and all of us love dogs so it was a great way to end the day. The youngest of the Hartkop children, Juli, even volunteered to be hidden in the snow and wait for the dog to come rescue her! Very exciting for us to watch.

Left: Juli walking towards the hole she was to be "buried" in, Right: Big smile after being "rescued".
Left: Juli walking towards the hole she was to be “buried” in, Right: Big smile after being “rescued”.

All in all, it was a great little trip. We will definitely be coming back to Wengen. Till our next trip.


Ski Ferien… Ski Holiday – Part 1…

This year for the 2 week Sports Holiday which all Swiss schools have (some have only 1 week) we decided not to do the week-long affair which we had been doing for the last 2 years. Husband decided that a week was too long to spend up in the mountains by ourselves (our friend who has been joining us for the last 2 years could not make it this year) so we split it up to 2 short trips.

Our first trip was to Saanenmöser in the resort of Gstaad. It is a really big ski area (you could ski all day on different routes and may only have to repeat the route home) although the village of  Saanenmöser itself is quite small compared to the other villages around. But it has lots of blue slopes for which i am very happy. i’m not a good skier at all, sort of stuck between no longer a beginner but still too fearful of steep slopes to be confident on red slopes. In fact, i even found my “Happy” slope (phrase coined by my friend, whom we went skiing with in January). i recommend Route No. 29 if anyone is heading that way.

The plan was to time this trip with the company’s ski-day but they postpone the ski-day due to the poor weather but we were already booked into the hotel so we went but took our time getting there instead of rushing out first thing in the morning.

Getting there was a little adventure in itself. The roads leading into the valley were covered in snow and it was still snowing. We were driving along, quite slowly, and then suddenly we lost traction and skidded for a fair distance. Husband did a fantastic job of keeping us from crushing into the cliff on the right and falling into the river on the left. Thank God for his good driving skills!

Then we got to the train station where we were to park at the hotel’s private parking space and while trying to get into a parking spot, the front wheels got stuck in deep snow. We were going to wait for the hotel transfer person to come and help us but the hotel owner himself was in the parking area and he, along with another staff member, helped to push us out. He stayed to make sure that the hotel transfer was indeed coming down to pick us up and then he left. Nice guy.

We piled our stuff into the Land Rover and the very friendly lady (it’s a shame i never got her name) drove us the 2 km up to the hotel.

Now i have to tell you about the hotel we stayed at because it was the highlight for me, personally.

It is called the Saanenwald Lodge. Now think 1960s, think exclusive club, think 5-star service but minimalist, simple, relax. Are you getting the idea?

It is also a true ski-in/ski-out hotel. You can literally take your skis out of the ski-room and put them on outside the door and be off down the slopes! No trudging them up to a cable-car station and not dragging them back at the end of the day… i like 😉 Oh, by the way, i love that guests have personal storage area in the ski-room. You can have your own locker with your room-number to store all the shoes and helmets and a numbered slot for your skis/snowboard.

i’m glad they were able to accommodate us as there was very few rooms left when i was ringing around the hotels. i’m used to last-minute arrangements as husband’s work schedule doesn’t allow for much lead time. But sometimes this means settling for something less than ideal. However, this time i’m glad we were able to find somewhere really great.

The pictures will show more…

This is the view from our room (valley-side room)!

Ah... the view!
Ah… the view!

i love it. Who would not want to wake up to that view?

i must state here that the room isn’t big. The room is meant to comfortably sleep 2 and they put in an extra bed for Tobias which just fitted into the room. The interior was simply decorated and had great use of limited space. In the picture below are my favourite parts of the room; the lovely paper-cut framed picture, the wooden frame over the TV and the wooden wine crates used as shelves in the bathroom.

Father and son relaxing...
Father and son relaxing… with media devices, no less… sigh!

The next morning it was onto the slopes! The scenery on the slopes was amazing! i didn’t get very good shots cos i was concentrating on getting down the slopes (this was only the second ski of the season for me) but here are a couple of shots just to give you a rough idea how beautiful it can be.

Tobias is just waiting for mummy to quick finish with the shot and race down the hill...
These shots were taken in the morning with lingering fog, which is lovely in itself. Now imagine this with blue skies 😉

After a long day of skiing, it was nice to come back to the calm, relax atmosphere of the hotel, with its very friendly staff and its hot-tub in the snow, jacuzzi and relax room. Of course, Tobias was much more interested in the Fast Room where he could race cars! He did enjoy the relax room on the second day when the music was back on. In fact, i have never seen him so relax and still, just laying on his towel, listening to the music. i completely forgot to ask the Chef de Reception for the playlist. He is the nicest head of reception i know and is always ready to provide the best service possible.

Top Left: Head to the relax Room after your shot in the jacuzzi/hot-tub, Bottom Left: The Fast Room, Right: The Hot-tub in snow with a lovely sunset!
Top Left: Head to the Relax Room after your shot in the jacuzzi/hot-tub, Bottom Left: The Fast Room, Right: The Hot-tub in snow with a lovely sunset!

You can also enjoy downtime in a lovely big lounge area with a nice fireplace and cushy sofas or play some billiards, the kids can play some table-soccer or watch a DVD. There are also board games, card games and books available for your entertainment.

The restaurant has a limited menu but they do it really well. Sorry no food shots… i tried but the light was too low during dinner for my rather crappy point-and-shoot camera. If you stay here, you need to have scrambled eggs for breakfast – huge portion and amazing!

i love the architecture of the building, both inside and outside. Here are some pictures to give you an idea:

i love how the building's exterior maintains a rustic look and the interior is sort of modern chic...
i love how the building’s exterior maintains a rustic look and the interior is sort of modern chic…
Top: Restaurant/Bar area, Middle: My favourite part of the dining room, Bottom: Don't you just love those pastel coloured balls... people use them to hang the coats and hats...
Top: Restaurant/Bar area, Middle: Love the memorabilia they have all around the hotel, Bottom: Don’t you just love those pastel coloured balls… people use them to hang the coats and hats…

In and around the hotel are also great photographic shots and nice 60s-style graphics. But there is this one shot which i absolutely love! Here it is:

i love how the shot captures mystery and excitement and calm all at the same time - at least for me it does...
i love how the shot captures mystery and excitement and calm all at the same time – at least for me it does…

So as you can tell, we had fun. The skiing was good. Good snow, good weather. It was a little difficult for me, especially with powder snow which got pretty chopped up by mid-morning but that’s just because my skill level isn’t there… yet. i would most definitely come back and would recommend it to anyone who asks.

Oh, i forgot to mention the very exciting skidoo ride we had going down the mountain as the staff saw us off when we checked out. The lady (same one who drove us up) raced down the hill. Then stopped halfway and said to Tobias (in Swiss German): “Now you can tell all your friends you rode the snow-mobile down the hill at 60km/h!” hahhaaa 😉

Part 2 coming up…


PS: Trivia info – this hotel was previously a hostel-style place and we did stay here about 9 years ago before child. So it nice to see such a change in the place.