It was the birthday of Big T and how to celebrate in style!
We started the day with a buffet breakfast before heading to the slopes for a couple of hours skiing.
Then it was off to the village of Gstaad to a local restaurant for delicious Swiss sausages, rosti and other low fat options.
The afternoon was spent poaching gently in the outdoor pool with lightly falling snow; sauna, steam, swim… repeat.
As evening rolled around it was time for an aperitif in the bar before strolling back to the village for more cheese.
Eventually we staggered back up the hill to the hotel, snow crunching underfoot carrying a little more weight than we started with and collapsed at the top.
Combined with texts and cards from family and friends around the world, it doesn’t get better than that.
Happy Birthday Big T xx
For our second night we ventured into the Fromagerie, the traditional restaurant with fondue and other cheesy offerings on the menu.
We ended up ordering cheese with cheese by mistake as we ordered a fondue and a raclette as I’d forgotten what it was. Raclette is a large block of cheese which melts under a grill it’s basically cheese on toast.
So it was cheese with extra cheese, bread and potatoes. Not exactly slimming but very tasty.
It was a night of cheesy dreams as we tossed and turned regretting our cheesy choices.
The next morning It was snowing and cloudy. The faint of heart would have stayed in bed but the brave (well, the English) took to the slopes.
We went back out with the same instructor for another session, this time in goggles as the snow was falling and visibility wasn’t great.
We were glad we did.
I felt I’d improved massively in two days and was feeling much more confident. Big T had psyched himself out by watching YouTube skiing tips and had lost a little confidence but still felt things were heading in the right direction.
After a couple of hours we’d had enough and after a good final run, decided to call it a day.
We would pick things up again on a future trip hopefully.
It had been arranged for us to take a horse-drawn carriage ride around the village as part of our trip.
Not my cup of tea exactly but there we were when jingling bells and clip clopping hooves announced the arrival of our ride and there was nothing to do but sit back and enjoy the experience.
I’d had images of Mr Tumnus with a hot drink in a bejeweled goblet and Turkish Delight which didn’t come to fruition, instead the whiff of manure was rather pungent from the tail bags and horsey blankets.
For an hour we jingled and clopped our way around the town as our guide told us stories of the history and pointed out buildings of note. Tourists took photos which was slightly mortifying for me but the horses seemed ok with it.
It was snowing so perhaps a little colder than ideal but it was an experience and we had fun.
At the end we gave the horses some carrots, bid them farewell as they jingled off home and we went to warm up inside.
It had been at least twenty five years since I last skiied in Australia. Talk about rusty!
We started off in the ski hire shop. Apparently skis have changed a lot in the past three decades and things are much easier…. so we were told.
We were soon kitted out. Boots, skis, poles and essentially, helmets. Times have changed.
We had prudently booked a three hour lesson and our instructor Silvan arrived to collect us. He didn’t know what he was in for!
We soon arrived at the base of the ski area and boarded the gondola. Skis go on the outside while poles are carried inside. Boarding takes place while still moving so it’s important not to fall over or miss the pod!
We made it to the first level and embarked on our first run of the day.
Twenty five years is a very long time and I was very rusty. It was back to snow ploughing for that initial ice breaker.
We did fall a few times through the course of the morning including a Spectacular Collision where we ended up in a mess of skis, poles and hilarity.
Big T took a few detours off the run and ended up knee deep in soft snow and I skiied like an Old Lady.
And then we started to progress. The turns came easier, the speed picked up and the skis became a little more parallel. We were skiing!
By the end of three hours we were feeling it. Muscles were squeaking and we were getting tired. It was time to come back and ease into the spa where snow was lightly falling on the outdoor jacuzzi.
Not bad for dusting off the cobwebs!
There are four restaurants in the hotel to choose from and as we’re writing a review of the hotel, we were booked into the Italian Ristorante (casual dress) for our first evening.
We started with a drink in the bar where it seemed a gin and tonic cost 40 CHF (excluding tonic!). Based on the exchange rate, it seemed a Beefeater gin cost £32. The bottle only costs £15 in our local shop!
Luckily I haven’t been drinking for the past six weeks so prudently ordered a glass of wine, a snip at 19 CHF.
Dinner would have bankrupt us had we not had an allowance. The numbers were so high, they just didn’t make sense. We ate conservatively and still reckoned we were a hundred and fifty quid in the hole. It’s only going to get more expensive!
Still, it’s a gorgeous hotel, incredibly luxurious and comfortable and we’re very, very lucky to be here.
We went to bed early in anticipation of what lay ahead… Yikes, we were going skiing!
We arrived in Geneva and jumped on the train to Montroux. It left exactly on time and was very expensive so we were definitely in Switzerland.
At Montroux we changed to a little train on the Golden Pass and sat in the barrel-shaped wooden dining car to see the view of Lake Geneva. It was mystical as low clouds hung over the lake.
We headed up into the mountains and the snow became thicker on the ground. Through tunnels and into the forest we went before finally arriving in the village of Gstaad. Pronounced Schtaad.
We were met by a hotel chauffeur and whisked up the hill, past every brand of designer shop imaginable to the extremely fancy Gstaad Palace Hotel.
We had certainly arrived!