Sunday, November 07, 2004

Spring Break, Part V - Blatten-Lotschental

Yoddle-yeah-he-hoo Kari:

I didn't hear anyone yoddle but I figure that is the best way to introduce part V of my vacation sooooo many months ago.

Monday March 22, 2004

We bid Michele farewell with thanks and hit the road from Bern and drove south to Kandersteg.

Here is a photo on that route.

At Kandersteg we caught the car-train.

Yup, you drive the car onto a train and the train goes into the mountain tunnel and comes out the other side in Goppenstein.

Image source:
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From there we drove east in the Loetschental Valley. In that valley there are a number of little villages where the hotels are. Ours was at the far east end in Blatten.

The Hotel Breithorn was almost empty as we were there on a weekday. The inn staffer who met us didn't speak any English but with our three Asian looking faces and a reservation under my surname filed via the internet, she got the keys for us without much hassel.

After dropping off our stuff, we headed back toward the tram lift to the ski area. The ticket sales-lady spoke German only but it was pretty obvious what we wanted to buy was a ticket for the tram. It took a little while for us to communicate to her we also wanted to know what time was the last tram coming off the mountain.

The weather wasn't great. Clouds were rolling in but there were moments where we saw beautiful patches of blue.

We rented skis and paid for ski lessons and we were off on the ski lift to the lowest drop off point. As my skis dangled, I started to remember that I have a slight fear of heights!

There are no photos of my skiing. In a phrase, imagine cartwheeling down the mountain. Well, okay, maybe not quite cartwheeling but certainly falling down the side of the mountain. I fell forward, sideways left, sideways right, on my back... multiple times. I was on the beginner's slope and took 90 minutes to fall my way all the way back to the beginning. Fortunately, I didn't break anything on the way down but in one of my tumbles I strained the muscles in the left side of my rib cage. The rest of the trip, it would be a painful reminder of my little "ski" adventure!

After surviving my first ever attempt at skiing, we went back to the hotel and roamed around the village of Blatten.

As a photographer, I'm often chasing sunsets. The sun goes down in the West but sometimes, look East to see what shows up.

Ordering dinner was interesting. The folks at the restaurant barely spoke English. The menu was in French. The owner was Italian. And I think the waitress spoke some German. Anyway, we managed to order some food. Afterall, how hard can it be? If we were in China, who knows what they might bring out! But at this restaurant it was apparent the items on the menu was various pizzas, pastas, salads and some egg-cheese specialties. So we took the plunge and ordered and awaited what would come out!

The owner explained they used cheese made locally. Thus, we figured the other source of income besides the ski crowd is from farm products. We have this image of Swiss cows roaming the countryside. Well, I bet in the spring and summer, that is exactly what happens!

Travel tip:

* Enjoy taking risks but within reason!

I was clearly overly optimistic about my ability to figure out skiing in 90 minutes of lessons. Nonetheless, as embarrassing and painful as it was, I'm glad I tried. In the end, the conditions were not great for a novice. The snow was rather icy. It started snowing thus the sky looked white and the ground looked white and I felt like I was inside a lightbulb which contributed to a sense of disorientation. And finally, it seemed rather steep for a beginner's section of the ski run. However, I can say I "skied" in the Alps! Okay, truth is, I stumbled down the Alps while wearing skis.

* English in not spoken everywhere yet
I am not surprised that there are still places in the world where English is still more or less unknown. However, I was surprised that in Switzerland, a throughly modern country, we found a place where English was little used. As we walked around Blatten, we realized this place was pretty remote. There are other ski resorts much more famous and thus with many more English-speaking visitors. I suspect this resort is still not that well known outside the local Swiss.

Take care and be well,

Go to Part VI


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your absolutely right, very few english people know of the lotschental. it is a very special place to me and my family. we've known it now for 50 years.

3:28 PM  

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