Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Zermatt, Switzerland

Three days after we came back to Izmir from our ski trip in Austria, we headed out again for another weekend of skiing in Zermatt, Switzerland.  Unfortunately, we had to take a 4:00am flight from Izmir to Istanbul in order to get to Switzerland at a reasonable time. We flew into Geneva and planned to spend the day exploring the city.  As it turns out, Geneva is kind of boring. And VERY expensive.  I got a Caesar salad for lunch that cost the equivalent of 20USD.  Our lunch bill was 66USD!  We wanted to do some sight seeing to cheer ourselves up, but in actuality, there wasn't really anything to see. The buildings are pretty and there is the water that divides the city, but there were not any major sights to see or things to do.  It was a major disappointment. 

We hung around the city until dinner time when we met one of Mike's old classmates for dinner.  Gabrielle was in a few of Mike's classes last semester when she studied abroad through the Erasmus program.  She's in Geneva doing an internship this semester and it was fun to meet up with her and hear about her internship and her thoughts on Geneva (she felt the same way as us!).

After dinner, we caught the last train out of Geneva to Zermatt.  Mike's sister, Kelly, is dating a guy from London and his family has an apartment in Zermatt that they generously let us stay at.  Kelly, Sean, and two of Kelly's friends were already at the apartment waiting for us. Theoretically, we would take this train about two hours and then switch trains and get to Zermatt around 11:00pm. It was going to be a long day for us since we got up at 2:00am, but we figured we could sleep on the train. I did end up sleeping on the train a bit, but I was awoken when we stopped early. There wasn't really an explanation as to why the train didn't keep going, but we were told we had to get on a bus to continue our journey. We weren't really sure what was going on, but we did it and ended up on the bus that took us to another bus stop.  By this point, it was 11:00pm and we still weren't at our destination.  Once we got off the bus, we waited around, not really sure what was going on.  Buses would come and go, but none of them had our destination on them.  Finally, I asked some guy who seemed to be directing people if a bus was coming that would be going to Zermatt and he said it that bus would come in 30 minutes, so we waited.  When we finally got on the bus, it was around midnight.  By the time we made it to Zermatt, we had been awake and traveling for 24 hours (factor in the time difference).  I don't really remember much, just that Kelly greeted us at the door.  Sean and Mike discussed logistics for the next day, but I was so tired I could barely focus.  Luckily, we were able to go to bed and we both agreed we weren't going to be ambitious and try to be the first ones on the slopes the next day. 

The next morning, Sean, Kelly, Hope and Sara headed out on the first train to get to the slopes, while Mike and I slept in and tried to recover. We met up with them mid morning feeling well-rested. Kelly wasn't feeling well, so she and Hope headed back to the apartment after lunch while Sara, Sean and I kept skiing.  They're pretty amazing, those Alps.  Standing in the valley or at the bottom of a slope, I felt so small surrounded by these gigantic, magnificent mountains. They're huge. And beautiful.  Breathtakingly beautiful.  On that note, altitude sickness is a  real thing. I never felt sick, but for the first time in my life, I was out of breath skiing.  It was a good little reminder of how high up I was.  Overall, it was a great day skiing.  We got some great views of the mountains, as well as some great skiing in.  

I spy with my little eye...the Matterhorn!!

That night, we all headed into the town of Zermatt (we were actually staying outside of the city which is pretty common) and had reservations for fondue.  Fondue is such a fun, social meal and was great after a day of skiing.  Mike isn't a big cheese guy, but even he agreed that it was delicious. 

The next morning, all four of us were up early ready for another full day on the slopes.  Sean, Sara and Mike are adventurous and "expert" skiers, while I like to think of Kelly, Hope and I as the more cautious and safety-conscious skiers.  All of us were probably able to do a Black Diamond, but that didn't mean that we all wanted to.  I am perfectly happy sticking to my intermediate slopes, as were Kelly and Hope.  It was so nice to have people to ski with who were at my level.  I've been on trips where people were all advanced or all beginners and it just isn't as fun. Even though we all stuck together for the majority of the day, the three of us moved at a slower pace and I didn't feel like I was holding the entire group up.

Sean and Sara taking a break and taking in some scenery

There is one slope that you can ski/snowboard into Italy on and it was crazy to see signs that said "This way to Italy!" on a ski slope! WILD!

That night, we hung out at home, eating spaghetti (always a good post-ski meal!) and playing Settlers of Cataan and Cards Against Humanity. Mike and I had so much fun with Kelly, Sean, Hope and Sara and it was a great ski trip.  We're done with skiing for the season, but we are definitely ready for ski season next year!

Also, for anyone wondering what the benefits of us traveling for two years is...Admiral Fogo, a former Olmsted Scholar describes the benefits of the Olmsted Scholarship, as well as adds in some personal anecdotes here