Saturday, March 22, 2008

Alpine Adventures, Hooray!

I was beginning to worry. As many of you know, Miles loves cold weather and snow. That's the appeal of coming to Switzerland -- and the appeal of coming here in winter.

So imagine our consternation when, while all has been lovely, most everything we'd seen for seven days looked lush and green like this:


Cute, right? But not what we bargained for. So as we made our way counter-clockwise around this clock-crazy nation, I realized our last chance would be to go high into the Alps in a southern region known as the Valais. I booked us a room via Expedia at what I hoped would be a snowy chalet called Hotel de la Foret in a region known as Crans Montana.

We got there late on Thursday evening and found, again, no snow. But we were also up in ski country, so we figured Friday would entail a gondola ride up to a ski chalet or something.

Then, on Friday, we woke up, pulled back the curtains and...could not see a darned thing! Total white-out. When it calmed down a tad, this is what we could photograph from our balcony:




To give you some idea how fast and furiously the snow was coming, this lump below was our car -- after Miles had dug it out once.


We ended up hiking into the town a couple miles away for brunch. It looked like this...

Here's Miles in his winter gear...


We weren't originally supposed to stay at the Hotel de la Foret for two nights, but the snow made it worth it and impossible to do anything else. It did taper off by evening, and here's ol' Smitty waving as he works on digging out our car again just so the overnight freeze doesn't make it even more difficult...


And this was what we could not see all Friday...





Nice moon, no? Miles clearly did a nice job with the car...

Then here's what that whited-out view looked like Saturday morning after that storm...



Of course this all made Miles gleeful...


So we got in our trusty little Opel Meriva after a quick photo...


...and began the alleged five-hour drive back to Zurich. Except that we had to go east and then north through the Alps. Street signs were covered in snow, the Fodor's guide was relatively useless and cars were flying all over the place. Including ours.


We planned to take something called the Grimselpass. Except that the road instead led us to a dead-end of a ski resort. So we asked a nice couple sitting on a bench enjoying the sun and they explained that the road passes were closed to drivers -- and would be until, uh, May.

No, we had to put our car on a train and go through the mountains. Literally. See this is the train...


...and these are all the cars that have to be loaded into that trailer thing in front of the train. (Ours is the middle first car after waiting through three cycles and paying our $30 passage.)


The thing is, nobody prepared us for what would happen once we were inside the mountain. Having been instructed to turn the engines and lights off, we found ourselves in a pitch-black tunnel for at least a half hour. I had time, so I took this picture...


Miles was a little spooked. He complained it was claustrophobic. Oddly, Miles does not suffer from claustrophobia. But whatever. Mostly, I napped and had snacks.

Oh, I also got this photo...


Once we got through the mountain, the ride back to Zurich was uneventful and the roads vastly easier to navigate. We checked back into the Hotel Neufeld, which upgraded us to this huge suite for no evident reason. It had a corner balcony from which we could see this...


So now it's time for bed. We fly back to Vegas, via Atlanta, early in the morning. We have blog posts to come on our food adventures, on Swiss cars, on odd signs and more. Stay tuned!

2 comments:

Bay in TN said...

This post is all so fabulously cool! I've so enjoyed your trip reports. I've never been to Switzerland, so this was totally new to me. Thank you!!! But the snow! Ah! I wish we had more of the stuff here. I guess climate change is real, huh?

Yay, Steve & Miles! When will you be home?

robertw4771 said...

I loved the blog posts from your trip. Very funny!

Rob in 80 degree south fla