Monday, 31 January 2011

More fun in the snow ..... Jan 2011

Back on skis, but these are Cross Country
- this is hard!!
03 - 06 January 2011

Having ended our great 6 days skiing in the Swiss Alps we caught the train from Le Chable via Martigny to Lausanne. Our friends Helen and David collected us from the station and took us back to their lovely apartment overlooking Lake Geneva. The weather was clear so we took the opportunity to stretch our legs without skis on and went for a long walk along the lake front followed by relaxing drink in Lausannes' old quarter.

Next day dawned clear and those mountains beckoned again.  Helen and David are an active sporty couple. Last time we visited them they took us on an 18 kilometre hike over a mountain on the Swiss border, down to a great cafe in Italy for a big pasta lunch and then we hiked back again.  We weren't to be disappointed this time.  We had downhill skiing mastered so were receptive to their idea of trying cross country skiing....  Seemed like a good idea at the time....!! 
This is easier,
 uphill mountain hiking with snow shoes on

Mark thought he would shine as it is very physical, requiring more upper body strength but we both found it very difficult, and the only reason there are not photos of me with my nose in the snow is that I had the camera!!!  Staying in the cross country "tracks" was hard enough, but slowing down when going down the slight declines was almost impossible and required a very different technique. I can confirm that it was a very hard landing and getting up again unassisted was a huge challenge.

Still, the fresh mountain air was great yet again, we enjoyed a tasty late lunch as the snow storm clouds started to gather, we had tried cross country skiing - and hadn't broken anything!!  Helen and David cooked us an excellent dinner , then we collapsed in a heap and had an early night.  Another clear day dawned and more mountain activities were planned.  This time "snow shoeing" was on the agenda.  Snow shoes basically resemble tennis rackets (without handle!) that have crampons on the underside and you strap them to your your own hiking boots and away you go.
Picturesque village of Gruyére,
 complete with Chateau

We had an excellent hike around a nearby ski area, again the vista in this entire area was just stunning.  The snow shoes are easy to wear and work really well, they make both climbing and descending in snow and ice really quite easy.  We had a fun day out and didn't even fall over once!!

Late afternoon we headed for the beautiful hilltop hamlet of Gruyére, well known for the cheese of the same name produced in this region.  It was a lovely village, I expect it would be overflowing with tourists during summer, but on this mid winters late afternoon we almost had it to ourselves.  We wandered through the village and up to the Chateau, sitting proudly on the highest point with a 360o view of the entire surrounding valley.  The Gruyére Chateau had closed for the day, as had the Giger Museum, housing art and sculptures from HR Giger.  HR Giger also won an award for designing the set for the movie "Alien", this was possibly the first sci-fi thriller movie I ever saw, and it terrified me so much all those years ago, it was also my last.
The very funky Giger Cafe at Gruyére

Although the museum was closed the "Giger Cafe" was still open, and it was definitely time for refreshments.  It seems the interior of the cafe has been designed to resemble the inside of a whale.   The photos just don't do it justice, you feel like you have been swallowed by Moby Dick, totally surrounded by rows of bones, then at one end, two walls decorated by sculptors of scary looking babies, it's all very bizarre but certainly a tourist attraction and a great talking point.

We finished the day with a very cheesy fondue dinner in a small village en route back to Lausanne.  David and Helen had lived up to their reputation of providing us once again with an action packed few days which we enjoyed very much.  Next day was misty and cold, we had had the very best of the weather and enjoyed all of what Switzerland had to offer.  It was time to move on, we caught the train to Geneva Airport and checked in for our Easyjet flight - we were heading for London.Posted by Picasa

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