Monthly Archive for January, 2009

Crazy Noah

“I am crazy” – that is what Noah says when he looks at the photos of him.  We have so many photos of our crazy wee boy.  He loves pulling ‘crazy’ faces, has an obsession with trying on everyone elses accessories – snowshoes, sunglasses, hats, earrings etc.

And he has no fear it seems (except of balloons?!).  On the train he will often wander around meeting the other passengers or sharing raisins with a random kid (eating off the floor together!).  On the train back from Zermatt he entertained the entire carriage.  The other passengers made barriers with their arms down the eisle and Noah would have to walk up and down and say the magic word to open the barrier arms.

He has a need for speed too.  And loves going as fast as possible on sledges, scooters or in cars!  “Baaaastar Mama, Bastar, Go Go Go” he yells to me (I know, it sounds a bit dodgy but he means to say “faster”)

Here are some “crazy” photos of him:

To Lenzburg by bike

Daniel and I were itching to do a bit of exercise as the cold winter days have kept us inside more than we like.  Daniel suggested we do a bike ride – along one of the hundreds of awesome bike trails through this country.  We didn’t do anything too grand but thought an easy ride out to Schloss Lenzburg would be fun.  It is just under 15 kilometres one way so nothing too energetic.

So we wrapped us and the kids up warmly for it was a mere 3°C (quite warm compared to the -3°C we had been having!).  The castles in Switzerland are closed over the winter period but still able to go and have a wander around it.  My parents got married at this beautiful castle which is much more attractive in summer time.  But the boys love exploring and we had never seen Lenzburg altstadt either.

It was interesting to see all the castle-like stuff – drawbridges, canons, spyholes.  And tonnes of sea-shells can be found in the rock that the castle is built on – how did that get there?!

Noah and Toby loved climbing the hill up to the castle.. no, wait, they hated it…  but they loved going back down.  Actually Noah was determined to sledge down and didn’t understand why we couldn’t (I had to give it a go to show him the importance of the presence of snow and a sledge in the act of sledging!).

Anyway, feeling pretty tired now.  Might go to bed!

Zermatt in Winter

On our way home from Bettmeralp we did a we detour via Zermatt to see how our friend, the Matterhorn, was holding out in the cold winter.  We had seen the Matterhorn each day from the distance on Bettmeralp.  Miriam’s parents had been to Zermatt and had loved it so Miriam was keen to check it out too.

It wasn’t too different to summer time except all the skiiers and snow and it was pretty chilly!  The tourist shops were lacking all the cool summer t-shirts I remember too.  The ride up in the train is pretty slow but worth it for the views.  The frozen waterfalls were incredible!  We had to take a winter time picture to compare with the summer time photos when we were there with Missie and Simon in July.

Here are two photos, taken one in winter and one in summer from the same bridge in Zermatt – so you can compare for yourself!

Snowboarding

So we recently spent a week in Bettmeralp (Google Maps shows it in summer, which is not cool. Zoom out to get an idea of where is is. The resort also has it’s own website.), as you may know, and I tried my hand at a bit of snowboarding.

There’s limited photographic evidence due to a) me going by myself most of the time, and b) I don’t have a nice long telephoto to stick on the front of my Canon.

We arrived on the Saturday and I went across the road to the ski school and booked a 1-hour private lesson for the next morning. My colleague Alain lent me his board and boots, which was totally awesome, and thanks to some decent sports shop sales, I was kitted out.

I met Patrick, my instructor, at the learner’s slope the next morning and got cracking. Had a wee muck around at the bottom, and I quickly got back the feel from the day-and-half I did on Ruapehu about 18 months ago.
We hopped on the T-bar and made it to the top. I had been told that the T-bar was the worst part of snowboarding (only a chair-lift and a platter (platters suck) on Happy Valley at Whakapapa), but if you know what you’re doing and relax, it’s sweet as. The next hour went fast, as I learned the toe-side and heel-side positions for traversing, and the turns. Took a few tumbles, but got the hang of it fairly quickly.

After my lesson I did a few more runs by myself without bailing and had pretty much mastered the learning slope.

I managed to get back on the slopes a few times throughout the remainder of the week and found that as I gained confidence I started to crash more, but that was cool; it’s all part of the fun! I got in a full day’s boarding on the Friday, and managed to get down most of the blue slopes on the mountain and thoroughly enjoyed it.

And here’s the sole item of evidence for your verification:

I’m really keen to get back on the board, so I’ve been looking at some rail and snow deals (Jessica writes about these) and there are some massive resorts around; St Moritz has over 350km of pisten with 56 lifts. Crazy! So I’ll have to disappear for a couple of long weekends sometime soon :)

Walk from Bettmeralp-Moosfluh-Riederfurka-Riederalp

This has to be one of the most amazing walks I have done.  I have skied this track a few years ago and this time Daniel, my friend Miriam and I decided to walk it with the kids and sledge in tow.  The views are spectacular – with endless snowcapped mountains and the Matterhorn in the distance.

We walked from Bettmeralp to Riederalp and then took the gondala up to Moosfluh.  Then we walked along the ridge from Moosfluh to Riederfurka. We followed the mighty Aletsch glacier which the photos do no justice to show its vastness!  We stopped for a beer and pommes frites at the outdoor cafe in Riederfurka and soaked in some of the sun.  There was a random ‘castle’ to admire, kind of looks somewhat out of place but beautiful none-the-less.  Then we continued down the sometimes steep and icy path to Riederalp stopping only for some sledging and photos on the way!  Daniel and I no longer laugh at the Swiss going everywhere with their two ‘sticks’ or hiking poles.  It would have been quite handy to have some when walking over some icy bits in the track.  Although, I am not sure if these ‘sticks’ are really needed in central Zurich (yes, I have seen them in action on Bahnhofstrasse!)

Toby spent the first part of the 3+ hour walk being pulled along on the sledge but then found that walking by himself through snow (up to his waist!) and breaking all the icicles on the way was much more fun.  Noah spent most of his time riding on my back in the wonderful ergo but enjoying sliding down the hills on the sledge.

Over 10 kilos of chocolate!

I am now very embarrassed to say that we have eaten over 10 kilos of Swiss chocolate since we arrived.  We did have a tiny bit of help from Miriam to get it over the 10 kilo mark.  I don’t really know if I am proud of this achievement.  But, we haven’t put on those 10 kilos in weight (actually lost 10kgs in Daniels case – perhaps Swiss chocolate helps lose weight!  Haha) .  We are still way behind the Swiss average of 12 kilos per year per person which means we should have eaten at least 24 kilos by the end of April!

Miriam – come back and help us eat some more!

A week in Bettmeralp

We spent last week in Bettmeralp.  It was incredible.  We had seven days of perfect weather and although the slopes were a bit low on snow and getting icy in places, it didn’t stop us from getting busy sledging, snowboarding and skiing and many other things (that all seem to begin with the letter ‘s’).

It took us just under 3 hours to get from Aarau to Bettmeralp by train (Bettmeralp is in the Swiss Alps – in Canton Wallis).  We had organised tageskarte so it was cheap and easy.  We packed light and managed to get our large suitcase, backpack and two kids on and off 4 train changes and then up the gondala to the nearly 2000m high Bettmeralp.

We booked an apartment through myswitzerland.com – which works out way way cheaper than a hotel and there are like 900 apartments and 7 hotels on Bettmeralp so it seemed hiring an apartment was the better and more popular option.  We found our apartment was on the main stretch – slap bang in the middle of the village and absolutely perfect.  With views of the mountains from our window it was a dream.  It was quiet too, in spite of being in the middle of ‘town’, I guess people get pretty exhausted from skiing and breathing in the mountain air that they are in knocked out in bed by 10pm (yip – we were!).  Plus we were there before the busy ski holidays – ‘sport ferien’ so there weren’t many people.

Here are a few photos to get you started – more Willis adventures in Bettmeralp and photos to follow soon!

Excessive Hairdressers?

Like my new hair-do?  No, just joking!

So, Is it just me or has anyone else noticed the seemingly excessive number of hairdressing salons here in Switzerland?  They are on every corner.  Actually, from our apartment walking into Aarau I pass SEVEN hairdressers (in about 400m).  I went to get my haircut a couple of weeks ago and the hairdresser tells me there are 50 hairdressers in Aarau alone.  That is catering for a population of 16,000.    In Manukau, New Zealand, for a population of 360,000, there are 140 hairdressers.  So that makes it about 8 times more hairdressers per capita here than in Manukau.  Wow!

But then, have you seen the haircuts people have here?  They are perfect and everyone looks stylish and good.  And you pay too, about $80 ($120 NZD) for a women’s haircut in Aarau which seems to be about the average.  I was paying about $40NZD (about $25CHF) for a haircut.

But the service is perfect.  And they take more than 10 minutes to cut hair too!  On arrival, they open the door for you, take your coat (which they do give back!), ask if you would like tea, coffee, juice, water (with or without bubbles!)  I was even offered fancy Christmas herbal tea and biscuits.  They take you to a chair and talk for 5 minutes about what you would like to have done and give advice / tips.  After washing you hair and massaging, they cut it.  And boy, they cut so well.  Like every hair is in place and with such attention to detail.  Anyway, perhaps enough babbling.  I have had my hair cut twice since being in Switzerland by different salons and both were incredible and professional and friendly.

I love my Swiss haircuts.

Mark Driscoll, Food and T-shirts

Had another cute conversation with Toby today.

Daniel and I have been listening to heaps of Mark Driscoll’s sermons (Mars Hill Church, Seattle).  We love his stuff.  We have listened to his series on the book of Proverbs over the past few weeks – heaps about being a man, father, husband, women, wife, mother and about bringing up kids etc.  Totally worth downloading and listening to on your way into work in the car / train… Or you could listen to them while sitting on the couch eating bärentatzen and drinking glühwein like us!  But that is another story…

Well, one of the sermons was about men, and their duty to work and provide for the family, to not be lazy and go and work and earn money etc.  Daniel thought it was important to teach Toby why his Dada goes to work each day and instill some good work ethics early on into our young boy!  So they had a man-to-man chat a couple of weeks ago.

Today Toby asked “Why is Dada at work”  To which I answered “What do you think?” (this is my latest answer to all of Toby’s ‘why‘ questions as I find he often knows the answer!).  Toby said “To get some money”.  To which I said “And what does Dada do with that money”,  Toby answered – “He shares it with us”.  I said “And what do we do with it?”.  Toby’s answer: “We buy food and t-shirts”.  Gotta love all those t-shirts!  Haha.

Can you blame them?!

Yeah, I would do the same.  When it is constantly below zero here in Europe, who can blame them!  Except I don’t think I would have been that clever at 6 years of age, to pack togs, a lilo, sunglasses and food and then try and board a train south!  Have a read of this article where two German kids (6 & 7 years old) decide to elope to Africa – to warmer climates!  So cute!

Ok, now, back to reality…