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.


A Week Up In The Mountains – Ski Trip Wengen

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.

The Village of Wengen, as seen on our walk into the village from our chalet

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.

He had to be the one facing the opposite direction :p

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.

Curling on the ice ring in Wengen

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 English Church in Wengen

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.

A Snowy Walk in Wengen
Home from 11.02.2012 to 18.02.2012

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.

Inside the Chalet Stella

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:

An Elderly Couple blowing the Alphorn in the centre of the village. It was lovely and so befitting.
A Sundial, on our way to the nearest ski lift, which is where the Lauberhorn Races end.
Frozen Patterns on the Windows

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.

Snow Day / Clear 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.

Quiet Reading Time

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.

Working for their Dinners

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? 🙂

The Swiss Mountains

Already looking forward to next year – Mummy is hoping to take more lessons so she can keep up with the Son on the slopes 😉

The 3 of us with the Jungfrau range behind us.


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.