Monday, March 6, 2017

To Ski or not to Ski?

And so it's back to business after our half-term break, a little ski trip that didn't go entirely to plan....

This year we visited the very small, but very beautiful Bernese ski resort of Axalp. Located about a 1hour drive from us at the end of the Brienzersee, up a winding mountain road sits a small village at an altitude of 1540m above sea level. Axalp has a few great restaurants, a hotel, a ski hire shop, village store and lots of holiday villas, chalets and apartments. Unlike some of the larger resorts in the area, Axalp is never overcrowded, a sprinkling of different nationalities give it a nice feel with visitors from UK/Germany/Netherlands and Swiss and it's location allows you to make the most of some really beautiful views across the Bernese Alps and down to the lakes from the various ski runs, snow-shoe trails and sledging paths sprinkled over the mountainside.

First Evening View
We rented a small chalet which was situated right on the mountainside over looking the lake, beautifully appointed with everything a small family could need.

Chalet Interior

Best bathroom view ever?

We hired our skis, boots and poles from the very friendly and extremely reasonably priced shop and booked the hooligans into the Axalp branch of the Swiss Ski School, who's tutors are really first class and speak multiple languages including English. So impressed was I, that I booked a couple of 1-2-1 lessons as i'm not the worlds greatest skier. Infact Mrs S and the boys make me look like an imbecile when I take to the slopes, so a bit of extra "pro-coaching" was just the ticket!

Getting Better!


Now, in the week before we left for Axalp, BIG and small had been struck down with the dreaded coughing virus that has spread like wild fire in the village school, after a couple of days off they seemed to be doing well and both really looking forward to getting on their skis again..The night before we left BIG started sneezing and spluttering but aside from a runny nose we decided all was well, after all we have spent a lot of money on a wide variety of thermal underwear, ski clothes, boots, gloves, hats etc. You name it we've got see, in Switzerland there is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes!

So, after loading the car with all of our gear and the all important sledges, we set off for Axalp, arriving mid-morning after a lovely drive up the twisting mountain roads through the snow line and up into a winter wonderland! After unpacking we decided upon a spot of sledging before lunch and duly headed up to the nursery slopes to career at high speed on some beautifully prepared snow, BIG was travelling at such a rate of knots that he was literally flying off some of the little jumps, lots of fun!!

BIG Taking Flight!
After a quick lunch back at the chalet, we kitted up and headed for the ski-school, the hooligans went off with their tutor Marilyn and I met my tutor Marcel who, after making sure I had my basic ski handling together, took me off up to the top of the mountain (2000m) on the chair lift and we started working on my (non existent) carving skills, allowing me to turn with my skis parallel using the edges for grip, rather than my usual slightly apprehensive "SnowPlough" safety first style!

As a musician I'm always so paranoid about falling and breaking something but, with Marcels patient and humorous approach I was able to take my basic ability to the next level and feel so much more confident as we headed down on the beautiful runs!

As we got down to the lower slopes I was very proud to see both BIG and small skiing really well in their group, after our lessons had ended we managed to get a few runs down the lower slopes together, mainly with the boys beating me to the bottom of the run with ease, they are utterly fearless!

Small on the Bugellift

Back to the chalet for 4:30 and a rat on the terrace in beautiful sunshine before a fondue with the family, that's the traditional swiss bowl of melted cheese on a table top burner, you eat it by dipping chunks of fresh bread on the end of long forks. delicious and very filling! Both boys were exhausted and after getting them ready for bed BIG started to develop a bit of a fever and a nasty hacking cough...

Sunshine on the terrace
After a sleepless night where we split the boys up, BIG in with me coughing all night and small with Mrs S so at least they got some sleep.. breakfast time rolled around with a huge load of fresh overnight snow and lots of coffee, BIGs fever had subsided and he was absolutely determined to go back to ski school and carry on his holiday, what a little trooper...despite my reservations over his coughing, which was not great at all, he got himself ready and both boys looned around in the snow outside whilst Mrs S and I got ready. The cold air seemed to actually help BIG and his coughing was much better by the time we headed up to the piste.

Morning View after the snow 

Looning Around
Another full on afternoon of skiing between some particularly heavy snow showers was enjoyed by all until the wind picked up and the storm clouds closed in...Mrs S took the hooligans back to the chalet after ski-school and I got some time to practice my carving on the mountains before the weather put paid to anymore fun, time to head home I tool a wrong turn and ended up way out of the village with no chance to get back up the mountain on a lift, so with a blizzard smashing in around me I took off my skis and walked 20mins back, arriving home looking like a very knackered snow man, I was greeted by a very sickly BIG and a rather worried Mrs S.

BIG had pushed himself so hard that he literally had no energy left and had a raging temperature and that nasty cough had returned worse than ever. We got him into bed and lit a fire as the storm outside raged on for the rest of the night..BIG was once again unable to sleep for his constant coughing and so without a doctor in the village we took the extremely hard decision to head home the next morning and call in at our kinderartz (Children's Doctor) on the way.

When the north wind doth blow!
In the morning BIG was so exhausted we left him in bed as I ventured into the village to inform the ski school and return out skis..much to my surprise everyone was extremely sympathetic, I was refunded all of the remaining rental money and ski school payments and even given money back for the days we would miss on our family ski pass. That certainly doesn't happen everywhere and I must really express my thanks to the Axalp ski team for their generosity and understanding!

Last Morning
BIG was so exhausted that we had to carry him to the car and he slept the journey home and also in the waiting room of the doctors...the doctor told us he just had a particularly nasty bronchitis and that we had absolutely made the right decision to bring him home, armed with inhalers and other meds we arrived back home to unload all of our gear and get BIG straight to bed.

That evening we were called by the rental chalet owners who wanted to check on BIG and also offer us to finish our remaining 3 nights whenever we liked, either sometime in the remaining season or sometime next year, whenever was good for us!

BIG has gone on to make a full recovery and was back at school this morning, we didn't get the chance to fully enjoy our trip to Axalp this time, But we are very relieved we took the decision we did. It could have been much worse if we'd have stayed longer. Despite missing out we are happy in the knowledge that thanks to the generosity and understanding of the lovely people in Axalp we can visit again and hopefully finish off what was shaping up to be a great holiday!

And what about small, how did he feel? He doesn't care..."Skiing is stupid Pa, there is no Star Wars lego in Axalp"

All's well that ends well :D

All Good!


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