Skiing (or not)

We were up this morning at about 8am to get ready for skiing. It was a beautiful clear day and again relatively warm at about 5 degrees C.  After breakfast we left for the ski school which is at a place called Bodmi which is about 10 minutes away from chalet by car. Most of the roads are now clear of snow as it has just melted away as it is quite warm but there is still plenty of snow to ski on at Bodmi.

Helen skiingWe started skiing at 9:30am. Helen and I had one instructor and Stephen & Michael another. We knew we would be at different levels. The boys had a young Swiss guy (19 years old) and Helen and I had a Japanese lady (Sally). By the time we managed to get a ski on and start practicing on one ski the boys already had both on and were practicing on a gentle slope. After about an hour of sweating and basically achieving nothing and mainly in pain (from my ski boots pressing on my ankles) and from a sharp pain down my left leg from trying to do ski stops, I came to the conclusion that (a) there is no point in incurring pain for the next 3 days and (b) that I was not enjoying it and woStephen skiinguld unlikely enjoy it given my current state (and age). I had planned to ski for 3 days and Helen had said she wouldn’t at all. About a day before we left Helen decided to give it another go. And besides a brief moment today when she was a little nervous about the icy snow, she hasn’t looked back and has carried on skiing. Not what I expected and a 180 degree turnaround for the two of us – Helen skiing, me not!

Michael skiingI watched and took photos the rest of the morning. I enjoyed that a lot more even though I could not get rid of my ski boots until my Dad came back at 11:30am to fetch us.  The boys progressed quickly to the magic carpet (a small ski lift that you stand on that drags you up the mountain) and then onto the main slope at Bodmi which requires you to use a pommel lift to get back to the top. They had gone up and down that slope 10 times by 12pm when we stopped skiing for the day (though I stopped at 10:30 in case you missed that). Helen had progressed to the magic carpet by that stage and even did it once without the ski instructor. She has now decided to continue skiing tomorrow again (yes even though it’s Xmas they are going skiing). The boys will do another day at Bodmi with the instructor and then he reckons they will be ready for the main slopes.

After lunch today we went shopping for more food and some boots for Stephen (B&S – tell Lara – I am sure she will be relieved). We did all that at one store called Landi. Landi has everything from food through to car parts. Hard to explain what kind of store they are. It is about the size of a convenience store yet has something of everything. The biggest section is probably the alcohol section. We even found this bottle beerof local beer. Notice the type ‘Speziel Hell’. We reckon either made especially for people drinking on Xmas day or it is so strong that when you drink it you feel like you’re in your own special hell.  I am sure you can come up with some other ideas in that regard …

landi viewOn the way back we stopped to take a quick photo (the one on the left here). That is the typical sort of view that is around here at the moment. Loads of snow and the typical Swiss chalet in the distance. Unfortunately while we stopped my older and disrespectful son took it to get some snow and then misled my only darling daughter to put the snow down my back. That sort of disrespect will have to be repaid in the next day or so. It certainly won’t be forgotten.

The activity of the morning and shopping exhausted us and so we snuck in a quick sleep before our traditional Xmas eve supper of Schnitzel and chips (gave that especially for you Josie). It is now 10pm and it is 4 degrees outside. Michael was testing the temperature by sitting on the balcony of the chalet. He lasted for about 5 minutes. Stephen and my Dad are having another technical discussion about coxial cables, white balance, iPads and various other technological items of common interest to them. Hopefully they both get it out of their systems soon!

Merry Xmas eve!

Skiing Trip

Last night we left for a quick 7-day skiing trip.  We flew on Qatar via Doha.  My in-laws asked why we would fly via Doha given all the air miles I have and the answer is quite simple.  I could not get any bookings at this time of the year on air miles and so we went with the cheapest flight option which was Qatar (at roughly 50% of the price of the other options).  There is no easy way to get to Switzerland even if you want to go as direct as possible.  We flew on Qatar from CT (unfortunately it does stop in Johannesburg on the way) to Doha and then connected from Doha to Zurich.

The flight from CT to Doha was ridiculously good.  Helen said she reckons it was the best flight she had ever taken.  If I exclude First Class on Cathay Pacific I reckon she may be right. The service was very good and the cabin was incredibly spacious as well.  Qatar have been rated as number 1 airline both in 2011 & 2012 and I can see why. The wine list was also the best I ever seen on a plane (and this from an Arabic airline!).  They served us a snack (which Helen reckon was dinner actually) from CT to Jhb.  Helen went straight to sleep after we took off from Jhb and the rest of us watched a movie and had dinner. Helen probably had a better idea because the flight time to Doha from Jhb is only 7 hours 30 minutes and so you really do need to get the maximum amount of sleep.

We arrived in Doha at 7am and the mid-winter early morning temperature was 24 degrees. Our transfer time was only 1 hour 30 minutes and that gave us just enough time to have some breakfast and for Chloe to insult all Arabs by wearing shorts and Stephen wearing a Crossword t-shirt emblazoned with Jesus Christ, the Cross etc. They were probably keen to see the back of us and so we were soon back onto a bus to take us to the plane. That was probably the most tedious thing we did. The bus trip from the terminal to plane took 15 minutes. The airport design is crazy that they park the planes on the one side of the airfield and the terminal buildings are on the other. You basically have to drive around the runway and that takes forever.

The flight from Doha to Zurich took about 7 hours and we took forever to takeoff so we left 30 minutes late and arrived 30 minutes late.  Helen managed to sleep the majority of the flight. The rest of us watched a movie, had breakfast and then had an indulgence. You may ask what an indulgence is.  I would normally call it lunch but on Qatar they call it indulgence. Obviously Arabs consider a 3rd meal a day as an indulgence.  While service on the flight was again very good unfortunately the plane and seats were not as good but it did not deter us from watching TV and still getting some sleep.

We got through Zurich airport very quickly and easily and our luggage came off almost immediately as well. Made a change from the last time we did this because we lost a piece last time for 3 days. Qatar got it right this time. We then had to take a train from Zurich airport to Grindelwald (or more accurately we had to take 3 trains). Unfortunately we missed the 2:13pm train by 1 minute and so we had to wait for the 2:40pm train to Bern, switch at Bern onto the train to Interlaken Ost and then at Interlaken Ost change to Grindelwald.  The scenery is beautiful and typical Swiss. And the sunset while we were on route. The lack of snow was surprising (especially given we are coming to ski).   However, as we got more into the mountain area and as we rose the snow thickened and it is clear that at Grindelwald (even though it was dark when we got here) there is plenty of snow around.

My Dad met us at the station and collected the luggage and we went straight from the station to get ski boots for tomorrow. That is a process in itself. There is no way to get skiing quickly.  My Dad came back and fetched us even though it just a short walk up to the chalet.  It also isn’t very cold here at the moment. It was 5 degrees C this evening at 6pm. (When we arrived in Zurich it was around 10 degrees.)  We settled into the chalet (and yes it is a genuine Swiss chalet – I will take a photo when it is light so you can see) and then the boys and my Dad went to go and pick up the ski’s and boots which had to be adjusted for us.

Having left home at 4:30pm yesterday we sat down to dinner at 7pm in the chalet more than 24 hours later. Quite a travel to get here but really there are no shortcuts unfortunately. It is 9pm now and I am exhausted. Stephen is getting a physics/science/electronics lecture from my Dad. Helen is in bed with her iPad and I am heading there as soon as I push save to this blog. Only difference is that I am going straight to sleep. Hopefully I will have more energy tomorrow am for the first of the skiing!

Until tomorrow …