Everybody needs to experience a snow holiday, if only once in a lifetime. I've just spent three days in Switzerland, in Zurich, Davos and Klosters, and it was magical. I hope this post tempts you to go.
This wasn't my first visit to the land of cheese and chocolate. The last time I was there it was mid summer so being there in March was a whole different ballgame. Spring in Switzerland is still freezing – your hands go numb before you can say snowflake, you have to dress in more layers than an onion and watch your step on those slippery pavements. We left Cape Town in 30 degree heat last Monday morning and flew directly to Zurich, landing that night in minus 12 temps. When I drew back the curtains in my hotel room the following morning it was snowing…on the walk to the main station, the city was all dripping and grey and dusted with white and it was oh-so-beautiful. We climbed onto the train, eased out of the city and headed for Davos. The best was yet to come.
Let me transport you to the beauty of Davos, (pronounced Dahvos, not Dayvos – please get it right), a ski resort of 13,000 people and the highest town in Europe at 1560m above sea level. It’s mostly famous for the annual World Economic Forum, when 2,500 suits stride stride importantly into town to discuss pressing matters economical.
Davos is a magnet for those mad about doing and watching outdoor sports and activities – from skiing, to snowboarding, tobogganing, winter walking and hiking, ice skating, ice hockey and cross country, you name it, if it involves powder, you can do it in Davos. I had a go at tobogganing, down the SchatzAlp I’ll have you know, all 2.8km of it! I think I was screaming a lot but I made it in one piece, careening down the pass, managing not to collide with anyone or hurtle off the edge in spectacular fashion. My skinny sled came safely to a halt at Davos Platz and I was so glad I did the run-I'd been so nervous but it was a rush, no doubt about it, and it's something you have to try.
We did two hikes whilst there, both led by the amazing Martin Accola from Davos Tourism. The first was from Davos to Sertig, an easy paced walk on a path surrounded by eerily beautiful monochromatic scenery. It was icy cold that day and completely overcast with snow falling softly and black fir trees breaking the greyish white landscape with their spindly branches. What struck me was the silence…other than the soft crunch of our footsteps on the snow, there was absolute quiet, it was so surreal. The second walk was from Monbiel in Klosters, a village only twenty minutes by car from Davos, to Garfiun. The day dawned with perfection – bright sunshine, the snow blinding white and glittering and the surrounding mountain peaks were perfectly framed against a cloudless blue sky. A photographer's paradise.
Skiing is a big deal in Switzerland but who knew Bavarian Curling was a thing? In a nutshell, you slide, with some force, a disc over the ice towards a puck on the opposite side. It’s a game that people between the ages of 30 and 60 love to play. Not quite my cup of schnapps, mostly because I'm really bad at it. Kudos to our patient instructor Heidi because in spite of her efforts I still didn't have clue how the game worked and got worse at it as we went along.
I love discovering new foods so let's talk about that. We ate at three excellent restaurants- Walderhuus in Sertig, Alp Garfiun in Garfiun and Alpenhof in Davos. At Alp Garfiun, I came across a table of ladies having a bit of a yodel on the verandah. Yes, that happened and it was hilarious. I even threw in a short yodel dance while they were at it which was apparently not as fabulous as my snow flurry ballet (see video clip).
Swiss food is influenced by French, Italian and German cuisine. Rösti, a traditional dish similar to hash browns, the size and shape of a small pancake, which I've never eaten before, believe it or not, that is often served with vegetables or bratwurst. Swiss wurst is uber popular, as is barley soup and a delish drink called Rivella. My good travelling companion Norman McFarlane described it best,“it is an amber drink, slightly effervescent, redolent of honeyed summer fruits”. Most menus I found to be quite carb heavy (banting has no place here) with not much variety, but then again I hail from one of the food capitals of the world and am so spoilt for choice in Cape Town. The cheese fondue at Alpenhof was divine, as was the limoncello that followed after the meal. If you don't believe me, just ask Justin Fox how much he enjoyed it! I do love my vino as you all know, and the Davaz pinot noir was a winner. I also have a thing for craft beer and Monstien artisanal beer that is brewed in the mountains high above Davos, was a good choice.
Davos' position in one of the most glorious settings in the Alps is a major drawcard. It's clearly different things to different people – a romantic destination (think chalets, log fires, cheese fondues and red wine), a photograper's dream with such exquisite surroundings, an outdoor paradise for winter sports and leisure. It's Nature at her finest, in show-off mode, a must-do travel moment. I can highly recommend early spring in the Swiss Alps – utterly magical. Widerluege, until next time!
A few words to remember when in Switzerland, to impress the locals and show you've got good manners: Grüezi (hello), Widerluege (good bye), Merci vilmal (thanks a lot), En guete (have a nice meal).
Getting there: Edelweiss Air. Non-stop from Cape Town to Zurich (Oct to May) Monday and Friday.
Where to stay: Sunstar Hotel, Davos
Currency: Swiss Franc (CHF). 16ZAR to 1CHF
Tobbogan hire at Schatzalpbahn
Ski hire: Snowbrainer
Clothing: beanies, alpine gloves, shoes & boots with soles suitable for ice and snow
Tourist info: Davos
All images shot on a Canon 600D. Copyright CAPE TOWN DIVA