We definitely work to live. It’s been a long 3 months since Rome. When temperatures dip in the NE, we start musing about skiing. But so far, the Farmer’s Almanac is dead wrong. We’ve seen little to no snow which means that Blue and Bear Mountains must be churning their special brew of homemade ice … we mean snow. This year, the week between Christmas and New Year’s presented us with an unusual opportunity not afforded since the times we were in grad school – time off. And the holidays are on Wednesdays so we have to take off Tuesday and Thursday and once we took off Tuesday and Thursday we would be remiss not to take off Monday and Friday and so on and so forth. Pat especially needs to recharge his battery so we’re grateful for this time. When discussing where to go, the decision was Pat’s. After all, he is the skiing aficionado between us. His other choice was Park City, Utah, and we’d missed that flight. Zermatt here we come!! I was delighted to finally see Switzerland.
At about 6pm on 12/26, we took off only minutes before having secured a hotel. Pat was not clear that we’d have our own toilet, but he thought yes. I didn’t care much as long as we’d found something clean and safe. I took a picture of our hotel reservation and googled some directions from Zurich airport. Google knows all. The little ski village was 3hrs 40mins away from the airport clear across the little country in the south. I anticipated an efficient public transit system to whisk us away.
The flight itself was uneventful. We ate the same chicken and mashed sweet potato with caramel brownie that we always eat on USair. I like to nibble on the brownie. I drank some box wine to chase my cough syrup. I passed back 9/10 of the glass, watched a hilarious movie called Austenland and slept. Pat read Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath and presumably also slept. We woke up to chocolate chip cinnamon muffin tops and the end of Home Alone 2, the one in Manhattan.
We were the first through customs and had no bags to collect. Lovely!! Our first impression of Switzerland was “very clean,” “quiet.” The people, “patient and nice.” The cost of everything – even more expensive than every other touristy place we visit. I bought two bottled water for $10USD at the Starbucks in the airport train station. And later I learned that it came with a Starbucks mug with “Berne”(the capital) written on it. Am I confused? Does a mug come with every overpriced purchase of water in Switzerland?
We purchased train tickets along with 2-day ski lift passes and received a 15% discount to rent ski equipment. Pat was good enough to research these things. I suppose it’s good practice to ask for a discount everywhere you go. You never know. We then took two trains for precisely 3hrs 40mins transferring in Visp. Our heads were rolling – first literally as we slept on the first train and then figuratively on the second train as we looked at the scenery in merriment. Chalets, snow snow snow, creeks, mountain peaks, vistas galore. We’d never seen anything like it. Routes to Vail, Whistler, Mount Snow, and lil ole Bear and Blue Mtns don’t compare. Pat has seen the French Alps and Chilean slopes, and even he can’t remember something like this. The area is surrounded by something like 42 peaks.
And so we arrived at Zermatt, Switzerland bewildered. And hotel-less. Yes without a hotel. It seems that by some fluke of Priceline and Booking.com, we were erroneously booked in a hotel in Chiasso, Switzerland. We’re sure Chiasso is lovely but 6hrs away. The hotel attendant at our “real” hotel helped us find a new one – Hotel Tannenhof. Now this is pretty hilarious. We were literally two people with bags and jetlag disease looking at Ms. Francesca like, “Please don’t turn us away. We’ll surely die.” She found us one room within our budget – a room with no toilet or shower en suite. “We’ll take it,” I proclaimed. Pat was not excited, but at least we’d found a room in the village. Hotel Tannenhof is quite basic and very clean and making money hands over fist from all the little wannabes who want to ski on a dime. We have a balcony that faces a very nice hotel as a stark reminder of our status in the lower echelons.
We spent the rest of Friday looking for treats and ski stuff. We bought Patrick shower shoes least he have a heart attack.
We were directed to Wallerskeinf to eat fondue and raclette. Always excited for a local treat, we headed over, but the prices were more than ridiculous. 43CHF per person for cheese in a bowl with bread or potatoes?!?! Should lunch cost $100USD? We promptly walked over to McDs, one of our fave intl eateries. The Swiss have a tangy honey mustard type of sauce. We ordered apfelshnitzel (apples) and chicken and fries. Our Swiss treats were apfel streusel for Pat and apfel tart for me from a Swiss bakery. Both were delicious. The streusel was gooey goodness but not overly sweet. The tart had a nutty medley in between fruit and buttery delicate crust. Still jet lagged, we fell asleep by 9pm snuggled into a twin bed.