Good morning from beautiful Switzerland! We woke up to sunny blue skies, temps in the 60s and could not wait to get out of the house and search for new adventures. When you are in Switzerland on vacation, you need to pay what is called the "occupancy tax". You simply go to the tourist office, make the small payment (2.30 franks per day) and in return, you receive a pass for the ski lift. We did that yesterday and today, we were going to experience the Swiss Alps from the top. The ski lift up was a cool experience. Leo was the most excited, enjoying the sights while Mila was trying to jump out of the lift! As we arrived at the first stop (1900m), the kids immediately spotted a brand new playground, so of course, we had to check it out. Once again, an amazing play area for children right in the mountains.
After good hour, we convinced the kids to take another ski lift (elevator as Leo calls it) and go even higher. We really wanted to do the hike but when we saw how much fun the kids were having on the playground, we decided to compromise a bit. When we finished our second ski lift ride (2200m - there’s a 3rd that is closed in the summer, takes skiers to 2800m), we started to follow a hiking path. In the distance we saw a small house with a decent amount of people, as well as a trampoline and other kids activities. As we got closer we realized that the house was a little local bar, with a play area for kids. A no brainer here, as soon as Leo and Mila saw it, forget about the hike, we were heading towards another playground.
We did not mind it at all, sitting at 2200m, enjoying the scenery over a beer, while our kids ran around the play area. We were filled with an amazing aroma of cooking and breath taking view of Alps. We ordered a delicious grilled sausage, snitzel, and potatoes. The food was perfect, the ambience was delightful, and it felt good to just kind of soak in the moment. I really can not get over how child friendly this country is. Everywhere you go, there is an outdoor activity designed specifically for kids. In fact, indoor playgrounds are only open during inclement weather. While the parents eat, drink and enjoy each other company, the kids can play and be entertained. I suggest every country take some notes from Switzerland on how to treat children. You probably pay for it but they “get it” on keeping your kids active and outside.
As we started to walk back to the ski lift, Leo started to complain about an ear pain. I took a look and saw some blood coming out of it - ear infection, that was my diagnosis. We knew we had to take him to a doctor. On the drive home we passed a local hospital and decided not to take any chances but to admit him in. We walked to the information window and explained his situation. A super nice lady made me fill out one short form (name address and insurance info, I did not have to write a essay about my sons medical history, nor provide hundreds of other useless information) and within 5 minutes Leo was being treated by the doctor. It was so cute because as soon as he started to check Leo, Mila started to cry and yell at him to stop, as if he was going to hurt Leo. Thankfully, the doctor did not diagnose him with an ear infection but recommended giving him ibuprofen and ear drops. He gave us all of the meds right there, explained the dosages , gave a warm smile and escorted us to the front window. We received a bill of 200 franks, paid it right away and went home. Such a different experience than America’s tangled healthcare system. We came, we were treated, we paid, and we left. No forms, no waiting to know how much I’m going to owe, no getting 15+ pages of useless item charges. Just simple treatment.
The next day we decided to go back to the ski lift and do a family hike. The weather was perfect - low 60s, sunny and fresh air. After getting to the top of the ski lift, the wind picked up significantly. As we started our hike up the mountain, Leo and Mila started to complain about being cold, and honestly, we felt the same way. We decided to hike just part of the mountain about 2 miles round trip. Once we got to a junction, we spotted a picnic bench with a grill, how awesome! We sat down there, had a family lunch overlooking the glorious, still snow capped Swiss Alps. Back down the valley, the wind was pretty much gone. The kids kept asking for a playground and since we passed one on the way down, obviously we had to stop there.
In the afternoon we drove to a town called Lenzerheiden and went to, what they call, a Sportcentrum (think LA Fitness but Swiss style). It's a sport complex with an ice skating rink, gym, spa and several thermal pools. It was $10 per adult for a day pass. It was a very fun experience - there were 5 pools designed for different activities, two water slides, trampoline, baby area and an amazing outdoor pool with the view of the Alps! Leo was in love with the slide and must have gone down at least 20 times. Mila kept splashing in the baby pool although she liked the smaller slide too. Rick and I could spent a whole day in the outdoor pool, relaxing in the jacuzzi and lounging on the comfy sun chairs. We don't have any pictures from there since it was prohibited to bring any electronic with you into the pool area - Swiss people like their privacy and you don't go to a spa to take photos but to relax. We spent there good 2 hours and that night, we all slept like babies :)
So recently Rick and I decided that a little “me” time is much needed. Yes, being around each other 24/7 can take a toll, so this was something we should have arranged since the beginning of our trip. A little alone time would do good for all of us as we’ve definitely had our “moments”. Rick chose to have the morning to himself and went on a hike. He got up at 5, hit the trail by 6 and climbed Mount Roccabella, a 14 km hike that took him on an ascent of 1200m to a summit of 2727m! He brought back a huge smile, some spectacular pictures and very tired legs as he completed the hike in 3 hours time. He couldn’t have picked a better day for hiking as there wasn’t a cloud in the skies and temps were back in the 70s.
Leo, Mila, and I slept till 8:30, which rarely happens, took our time to eat breakfast, did two loads of laundry, went for a walk, played soccer and visited an old church across the street from our house. Before we knew it, Rick was back from his hike and it was my time alone. I chose to go back to the ski lift and go for a hike there. Rick and the kids dropped me off and I had my time. It was such a strange feeling to ride the ski lift alone, overlooking the gorgeous Swiss Alps and perfectly manicured valley. As I was coming to the end of the ski lift, I spotted a group of goats, where two of them were...hmmm...how to say it...reproducing!!! It was such a funny and bizarre view, I could not stop laughing. But then I felt ashamed and embarrassed for witnessing such an intimate moment between those two animals. I felt like I should go down there and apologize but my time was ticking…
Once I got off the ski lift, I stared my hike. There were several options but I chose to do the most steep one. There was nobody there and I kinda liked it. As I was ascending through a very narrow and bumpy pathway, I turned around and tried to take this whole moment in. It was probably one of the best views I have ever seen in my whole life. Once I got to the top, I took several photos and had a small lunch that I packed with me. So there I was on the side of a mountain, chomping down some carrots, cucumber and peppers, admiring the beauty around me - it's the little things...It's amazing how tiny and powerless the mountains make you feel. After finishing my two hour hike I still had one hour to spare. I decided to go to a little bar located not too far from the ski lift and relax. I ordered coffee and a cake - hey, I just finished a hike and needed to replenish some energy. I sipped my warm coffee, ate the delicious dessert and simply enjoyed this Swiss paradise. As much as I love my husband and children, I needed this quality alone time just for myself…