A Swiss Winter Wonderland

A long overdue blog post that therefore will be pretty long – sorry sorry sorry for the radio silence!

In January, Andrew and I returned from the U.S. to delve into the audit busy season – which luckily coincides with ski season! The working hours have been long for the past four weeks, but we found some time on the weekends to get out and take advantage of the fact that Switzerland is truly a winter wonderland.

Our first stop was Champéry to go to Portes du Soleil, one of the world’s largest ski areas, including 13 ski resorts in the network! We only touched about 10% of it but it was awesome!

Portes du Soleil on January 17. It was about 10°F and heavy snow fell all day, causing visibility difficulties and near white-out conditions. The snow was amazing! The resort was really nice, nearly all 4 or 5 person express lifts, not over crowded nor any wait times at the lifts.
Portes du Soleil – Again, poor visibility but you can sort of see the town of Champéry down below. This is the cable car we ride up from the parking lot to the ski slopes, which fits about 40 people inside.
Lunch break at Portes du Soleil. Andrew: Burger Me: teeny omelette, salad…. and beers. Beers are necessary 🙂

 

A sunrise view of the Alps and snowy Lavaux wine region from the train on my way to Schaffhausen January 18

One of my primary year-end clients was in the German speaking region of Switzerland, in the town of Schaffhausen, which is about a 3 hour train ride away from Lausanne. For three weeks I stayed in a hotel during the week and returned to Lausanne on the weekends. Andrew stayed in a hotel for two weeks by his client, in Neuchatel.
Schaffhausen

Schaffhausen
One of the village squares in Schaffhausen

Work was pretty busy in Schaffhausen, but one of the nights I took off with two of my co-workers to go for a 5.5 mile night run to the local Rheinfall. The falls are kind of like a smaller version of our Great Falls in VA/MD, and were lit up with a blue light. With the mist coming off the water – it was beautiful and a nice break from the long work days.

The weather this winter has been unusually mild at times, so we have not always been able to go skiing. One such weekend we instead went off to the town of Saint Maurice to Les Bains de Lavey, one of the thermal baths near Lausanne. We also went back in November, so this was our second time visiting the baths.

The baths have an indoor heated pool, which has waterway exits to the outdoor baths and pathways to the two outer buildings. There outdoor pools have areas with differing temperatures and areas with water jets and even a small lazy river style ring where you can let the water push you through while on floating on your back. My favorite was the water jet beds, which are on the outer ring of the spiral on the bottom right of the photo below. The thermal baths were a family affair, with plenty of kids, couples, old people, young people – everyone was there! When we went in November it was snowing while we were in the baths, which was a really surreal experience.

We also gave the saunas and turkish baths a shot. The outer buildings had saunas with three different stages of temperature rooms. There were also “serenity rooms” where they play music, have colored lights, you lie back in a rocking chair and just kind of chill out. Kind of odd but very relaxing. In the main building, they had Turkish baths as well.

bains 1
Borrowed from the website, here’s what it looks like from above
You are not allowed to bring a cell phone inside for privacy reasons, so I sketchily took this from outside the complex. 

February 7 we caught up with our friend Kevin, who works at a school and lives in Leysin. His village is up in the mountains about 50 minutes from Lausanne and has a ski resort so we were able to meet there to go skiing/snowboarding together. The day was not too cold and very clear, the views from the slopes were incredible!

img_1185
View looking south – and check out the guy in the center about to wipe out 🙂
Part of the resort in Leysin
Lunch at Leysin
Lunch at the restaurant in Leysin. This is on top of the mountain, and is a revolving restaurant. You end up getting a 360° view during your meal!

So let’s see. What else is going on in our life these days? My four weeks away staying in hotels in Schaffhausen and Geneva for busy season is now over. I think the worst of busy season is over for both of us for the near future (I hope!). We pretty much have been at work all week, Saturdays are devoted to errands while the stores are open, laundry, cleaning, and then trying to go skiing whenever there’s an opportunity.

Andrew is very likely going to buy a car. His commute to Boudry is very long through public transit and inconvenient for his work responsibilities. He is at the same client about 90% of the year, which is in a small village and has a ton of parking available. It would also be nice for us to have one and to not have to rent Mobility cars. His co worker happens to be selling his car, so Andrew is possibly going to buy it from him. We’ll see, but we might get a car soon! We do not have to have a car here in Switzerland, the public transit truly is great, but it would be nice to be able to have one available whenever we want and have a little more freedom. Oh, and to not have to lug our groceries back up the hill from the grocery store would be nice 🙂

Andrew is progressing very well with his French. His most recent feat was having a conversation with a car dealer at a used car lot to talk about cars he was interested in viewing. It was so great! And I am … well … not devoting enough time to my studies. I can place orders in restaurants and get by with greeting co workers or asking if anyone wants a coffee but my progress has stalled lately. I just spent a week working on an entirely French speaking team, French speaking client contacts and even had colleagues in town from KPMG Paris. It was the first time for me out at a client as a senior in-charge of a team where there was more than one other French speaker on the team and where they could converse in French together without having to talk to me in English.  My client’s documentation was entirely in French, my team were all French speakers – talk about adding a different element of challenge and a solid kick in the butt to dedicate myself to getting better at French! We are able to get by with English here in Switzerland, but learning French will make life here so much easier and it would be nice to join the conversation more often. I’ll get there!

Our view of the lake and mountains these days during runs along the lake 🙂


Our 2016 vacation requests have been submitted to our company’s scheduling team, and we are supposed to find out this month if it has been 100% accepted. So far our biggest request has been to take four weeks vacation in late July-August. One week of that is going to be spent on a cruise in Norway of the fjords with my mom, sister, uncle, uncle’s girlfriend Kelly, and Andrew’s parents. It will be so fun to get everyone together! We are left with three other weeks to plan. So, we’ve started to spend a lot of time researching a trip. We are thinking of trying a roadtrip through Spain and Portugal before the cruise, then afterwards hitting up Belgium and maybe doing some backpacking in the Alps. Just some thoughts … but it has been fun to research! We’ll see, so far 2016 in Switzerland is off to a great start 🙂

 

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