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 …