April 12, 2014: It’s a Holiday Post (Part II)

So the ride to Saas Fee was somewhat long (about 6 hours and most of the journey was by bus).  It was, however, very nice scenery, so time passed fairly quickly.  That and I was pretty excited about going to the Alps.  We ended up transferring to a train in Zürich, at which point we entered into some kind of weird time warp.  We had about 45 minutes until our train and I suppose most of that time was spent searching for a bathroom, which was pretty far off it turned out.  We looked at the time while considering finding a bit to snack on only to discover we had 10 minutes to get to our platform, which was of course on the other side of where we were.  Two giant suitcases and skis trailing along behind us, we booked it to the other side of the station, only to find a decently crowded double decker train.  We ended up leaving the luggage downstairs because who really wants to carry it up the stairs to the proper luggage rack and then have to stuff it among the other suitcases.  But that aside, the train journey was pleasant in and of itself.  We were sitting across from a girl, who was dressed in some pretty frumpy clothing, and for about an hour she proceeded to use what must have been an entire bottle of eye liner and mascara as she constantly fine tuned her make-up.  I couldn’t help but stare, probably making her obsessive need to do her make-up worse.

 

Once we got in to the station we exchanged some money and waited for our friend Tom to arrive so that we could catch the 40 minute bus up the mountain to where we were actually staying.  The ride was pretty curvy to say the least.  I am really glad I have a strong constitution, otherwise I am sure I would have been downing the Dramamine like there’s no tomorrow.  Oh, and let me give you an idea of what my face must have looked like for the first couple of hours in Saas Fee.  I have grown up in North Alabama where there are plenty of round topped hills, covered in thick woods, but I had never before seen such mountains!  They were absolutely breathtaking!  If it were raining, I probably would have drowned with my big gaping mouth pointed up to the sky.  And there was so much snow!  All of the times I have ever seen snow would never even compare to how much I saw on those peaks.

 

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So by the time all of the initial wonderment wore off it was time to learn how to ski.  It was my first time even seeing skis, much less putting them on and trying to move with them.  It was pretty awkward for me.  Our ski instructor was pretty nice and the group was fairly small: me, Tom, and a family of four.  The first day was pretty good.  We worked on parallel turning down what the Germans call the Idiot’s Hill (or the baby slope).  I could ski down the bottom half pretty well.  I fell a lot but always got back up.  I was never taught by this instructor on how to snow plow (or pizza), which is a pretty important skill in my opinion.  So I managed to crash into a bench full of people before calling it a day.  I really should have kept at it and ended on a good note though, because as encouraging and nice as everyone was, a small pigeon hole formed in my confidence dike, which on the next day completely broke down.  We immediately went to the slightly more challenging Idiot’s Hill the next morning.  And without fail, I managed to fall every turn.  And by the time I was moved to an easier class, I was so upset with myself and frustrated at not being able to do anything I was able to do just one days time before, that I couldn’t possibly learn.  So the next day I decided to take a break and rest from my skiing adventures.

 

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Tom, who started off in the same class as me but was quickly moved up, was at this time skiing down some of the hardest runs in the place with absolutely no fear.  We were pretty much exact opposites when it came to skiing.  He was Stan Darsh, racing down the K-13, and I was Ike, French frying when I pizzaed.  Fortunately for me, Donald offered to teach me in the afternoons, and lesson 1 was how to pizza.  This really helped because instead of relying on my lack of turning skills to slow me down or stop, I could just wedge my skis together.  I even developed a harmless rivalry with another lady on the slopes who, like me, pizzaed the entire way down the slopes.  She ended up beating me on the last day.  I knew I should have tripped her up on that last run and she skidded by me in a perfect pizza formation, smirking down at me as a slid on my bum to the finish.  I all actuality though, she probably didn’t even know I existed.  And by the end I was not as bad as I could have been.  I was finally starting to get my confidence back by the end of the trip, when we sadly had to leave.  Next time I go I will hopefully get to ski on something a bit better than the Idiot’s Hill, but we’ll see.  My brain just doesn’t think I should be going that fast with two slender pieces of plastic and my own coordination keeping me from what my brain has interpreted as certain death.

 

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Other interesting things to note on the trip: I met almost all of Donald’s family in one go.  And of course, like Donald, they were all incredibly nice (and pretty hilarious as well.  I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed so much with a group of people.)  His mom cooked for everyone several times and with the price of food there, that in and of itself was awesome.  Which brings me to the insane prices of anything up there.  Granted I know we are in Switzerland, and I know we are on top of a mountain, and I know that most of the resort is on a glacier, but damn.  Most food at a restaurant was around the $30-$40 mark.  I never quite convinced myself to splurge on buying actual meat, even though I originally wanted to make a casserole for everyone.  I just couldn’t bring myself to spend that kind of money on meat.  We did manage to make fondue one night, which included the worst bottle of wine I have ever had the (dis)pleasure of tasting.  There were only two labels.  One on the front reading, “Vin Blanc” and the one on the back reading, “Assembled in Switzerland from wines across Europe” (i.e. This is the shit no one wanted anyway). It tasted fine in the fondue though, so no complaints.  Aside from skiing and cooking, we played a decent amount of cards together and just generally enjoyed each others’ company.

 

Overall it was a really nice holiday with some really nice people.  And even though my skiing was shoddy at best, I even ended up enjoying that.  It’s too bad Alabama doesn’t have any skiing options because I will probably have to wait until I come back to ski again.  But I look forward to the day I can actually ski with people and not bore them out of their minds.  And photo of the trip:

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Photos courtesy of Donald.  Also a special thanks to Eva, who graciously loaned me her skis :)

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