Thursday, July 31, 2008

From Summer to Winter in 24 hrs!

Sooooo-de-li (That’s Swiss-German for: Soooooo).

After a hearty breakfast of fresh bread, cold-cuts, cheese, jam, butter, yoghurt and fruit (insert a couple of eggs for Orange-X here) early the next day, we made our way to the cable car station that would take us up to the Klein Matterhorn Station at 3’820 meters above sea level(12’533 feet) where we bought our tickets.

Unfortunately, the weather was doing pretty much what it wanted (not what we wanted). At Zermatt’s 1’862 meters, the sun was shining and the temperature was about at 24-26°C (high 70’s°F). However, the skies up in the heights were covering up fast. They said: “-1°C (30.2°F) at the top." … Brrrr! Since Chris had not brought any closed shoes - and in this case, even a pair of sneakers would have not been safe - we had made sure that both had adequate footwear before we left Basel.
Half way up we were told that we had to wait because the winds were too strong. We had already had rain and wet snow, and it was getting worse. So, we went for a hot chocolate and waited. After 20 minutes, the skies cleared up again (how fast it can change) and we could continue our ascent. It was breathtaking to see all the crevasses, the steep, rocky and sometimes icy slopes. You really have to know what you’re doing if you climb up here by foot, even in summer.

However, once we reached our destination, the Klein Matterhorn station, we realised two things: a) the panorama platform was closed for repair and b) we had a freeking snowstorm up there! It was like a Canadian blizzard. Look!

And we wanted to show them the Matterhorn?? HA! FOR.GET.IT! The best the weather would allow us to take was this. We saw only the lower part of the great mountain!

Anyhow, we walked to a provisional kind of “restaurant”. While we were warming up and recuperating from the thin air enjoying a coffee, we noticed that Chris was not doing well… at all. During her first visit back in 2003, the heights had been no problem for her, but in the meantime, she had her thyroid gland taken out because it was hyperactive. And then, Chris’ heart started pounding like crazy (low oxygen, probably) and she panicked – which did not help. So, we had to get her down again and fast! However, the winds had stirred up a storm in the meantime and we had to wait. Luckily, after about only 15 minutes, we could start our descent and at mid-way, she felt better again and the weather had changed to friendlier skies. Look at those views! Isn’t it beautiful up there?

By the time we were back in the village again, Chris was fine and we were back to a sunny, warm 26°C (78°F), so we took a few pictures in Zermatt and had a late lunch. We then made our way to the hotel to pick up our things, took a taxi back down, paid our parking fee in Täsch: a whole CHF 7.00 for 24 hours! Not much by Swiss standards, and drove back to Basel.

Once at home, we threw in a few washes in and were ready for the next adventure: the following day, we were off to Amsterdam.

So, folks. That’s where I leave you until the next entry. We're going on holidays to Egypt this Thursday for 2 weeks (Yippee!!!!!)and I doubt that I'll find much time to catch up, so have an excellent time!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Three Canadians (and one Dutch) invade Zermatt

Let's continue our little adventures with Chris and Bob, shall we?

Our two visitors spent the next 2 days exploring Paris and really enjoyed it. On Wednesday, we took them to "The Boomerang", one of our favourite restaurants just outside Basel. Linda and Rolf, the cook and owners, served us a fantastic piece of Aussie beef which, even by Canadian standards, must be rated with a very high note.

The next day was Zermatt invasion day. Well.... OK. So, we didn't exactly invade Zermatt, but we sure did our share at one of the local bars.

We had quite a bit of traffic on the way, but Robert was fascinated by the snowy peaks as we drove closer and closer to the Alps. He was also surprised to hear that we were going to drive onto a train that would take us from Kandersteg to Goppenstein through the Lötschberg tunnel.

While waiting for the train, we enjoyed the beautiful scenery, took one of my favourite shots of Robert and Christiane and watched a paraglider elegantly surfing the thermals.

The train ride took about fifteen minutes and after another 45 minutes, we parked our car in Täsch where a taxi took us the entrance of Zermatt. From there, an electro-car took us to our hotel. The weather was great, so we decided to unpack and explore the a bit since were too late to take the cable car all the way up anyway. Not to mention that we were thirsty!

As we walked through the village, we soon found a lovely outdoor lounging area where we sat down in the sun and enjoyed a few beers and bruschettas.

Does that look comfy, or what?

I think Chris also enjoyed it.

Oh, but wait. That's not all! We even saw a goat parade. Yep, right through "downtown" Zermatt. Taking them to graze in a pasture up in the Alps, perhaps? BTW, the goat leading the pack almost ran over OX while he took the pictures. So, never try to stop a goat when it wants to go feed, okay? They don't care much for cameras, or cameramen, for that matter.

Once the sun started disappearing behind the mountain and the temperatures became cooler, we decided to move on and found a small pub called the "Hexenbar" (the witches bar). A real cosy place to chill out with dim lights and decorated with witches in form of dolls or then painings all over the pub. And now, guess where it got its name from... Bingo! Anyhow, it was early and still pretty quiet when we got there.... but not for long! The Canadutch RULE!

We ordered a first round of drinks and started taking pictures of Bob and Chris. All of a sudden, the waitress, Cindy, jumped in."Wait! You can't take a picture in here without one of the witches", she said with a smirk.

She ran to a corner of the pub and grabbed a battery operated witch with flashing eyes and handed it over to Christiane for the picture.

She didn't stop at that, though. Seeing that we were having so much fun, Cindy asked us whether she should get us a few requisites from the storage room for our "photo shoot". Of course, we agreed, and within a minute, she came back with sorcerers' hats, broomsticks, and a set of pink'n white bunny ears and a bow tie. And this is what came out of it.
I admit.....
Although we both tried very hard, OX and I didn't actually soar throught the skies with this broomstick, but we sure as hell had a fun time trying. (BTW, this is probably my absolute fave picture of OX and me!)

Bob thought that biting it and adding horns to it would bring him to fly. NOT! Maybe he was just drinking the wrong "magic potion"?

Group photo time, ...but we still can't fly! Oh, well. What the heck! Maybe the bunny ears just didn't fit in?

This is our waitress, Cindy, with the boys.

A few drinks later, Cindy introduced us to Mark, a very funny, literally wee man - about 1.55 m/5' tall - that made us laugh tears. What an entertainer! He was performing right across the street, so we decided to have a simple meal consisting of chicken wings, ribs and such (not typically Swiss, I know), and just enjoy his show. It was worth it and we had a great time there.

After dinner, we decided to go for a short walk through the quiet town and then returned to the Hexenbar for a nightcap. Unfortunately, Cindy had finished her shift and left already, but Ellie, her replacement, made sure that we didn’t lack of anything and so we enjoyed a last drink before returning to our hotel for a good nights' sleep.

So. People. Hear me! If you're ever planning to visit Zermatt one day, make sure to go to the Hexenbar. Don't expect the personnel there to entertain you as soon as you set foot in the bar, but if they see that someone wants to have fun, they will go out of their way to make sure you have an unforgettable evening*. So here's a BIG thank you to Cindy and Ellie for making this evening a very memorable one.

More from Zermatt, coming up soon…

*With us will be even more fun! **Hint?? Hint???**

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Unforgettable Moments

“Unforgettable” is what's playing on OX’s iPod right now as I type. How fitting! Those moments were unforgettable.

I can’t believe that two weeks have passed already – not to mention the thousands of driven kilometers, hundreds of photos and short nights! My best friend, Christiane and her adorable husband Robert a.k.a. Bob are back at home with their two boys. We had an incredible time with them and I will be writing many posts about the time we spent together. But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

We picked them up from Basel Airport Friday, July 4th and let them settle in. Once they had put their luggage in their room, we met on the terrace for a welcome drink and snacks. I was hoping they had been able to get a bit of shut-eye on the flight, but no such thing. Both were way too excited to sleep. They didn’t care. There would be enough time to catch up for the lack of sleep – so they thought ;) ! Only Bob went for a short nap before dinner (I’m sure the drinks helped) but Chris did manage to wake him up for a late dinner. OX prepared his chicken-strawberry salad and added a few chicken wings on the BBQ. Yummy!

We even had an extra guest: Buddy. Buddy is a hedgehog that has been visiting us regularly for the past 5-6 weeks, or so. We feed him small portions of dry cat food - we don't want him to stop hunting for his food- and plenty of water. He actually eats out of our hand and he brought friends, too, but he's the only "bold one" and lets us scratch his chin. Ain't he just the cutest little flea bag?? ;)

Once the bellies we filled, our friends were quite ready for a nap. That was a good thing, too, because we had invited Thomas and Nicole for dinner the next evening and our two travelers should be more or less fit.

On Saturday, we did a few groceries, and then we just hung around in our back yard and chatted until it was time to prepare the dinner. I marinated a nice pork filet for the grill while OX prepared his sate and Indonesian fried rice. Our guests arrived on time and Thomas was really happy to see Chris and Bob again. I think he hadn’t seen both together since 2000, or so. Thomas is my Ex, as most of you already know, and still we get along very well.

Nicole was immediately taken up into Chris and Bob's friends' circle. Later, we turned up some mood music and at some point, the iPod played salsa music to which Tom and Nicole just had to dance.

Later, between the two courses, we took a small break and Christiane sang for us. She has the voice of an angel. Now that’s what I call entertainment! First a dance show, then food, then music and then more food! It can’t get much better than that, now can it? Look at the proud husband!

It was a wonderful start to a great two weeks! More to come. I’ve already spent all afternoon editing photos and by no means all of them just yet, but I had to put something on the blog! Enjoy!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A travelling we will go...

Just a short note to let you know that our visitors from Canada, Robert and Christiane, have arrived safely last weekend. Today, we are off to Zermatt and then Amsterdam.

It might take a while, but we'll be back with a few stories soon, I assure you.

........Stay tuned!