It’s raining hard, right now. I was going to go for a walk, too. Honest. This is reminiscent of my month in Switzerland, because even though it was summer it was an unusually wet August. This was a stark contrast to Spain, where rain appeared as a novelty, like seeing someone cruise past on a unicycle. When the sun did shine, the lush greens sparkled; a visual feast for my eyes.
My hometown was engulfed in giant peaks. Strangely comforting, watching over me as I slept. They seemed an impossibility to climb, but for a lithe local, there was always a craggy track to guide. One ‘scorcher’ of an afternoon, my host drove me and his son to the base of Pizol; a carpark with a building hosting a machine that had cables droning up to heaven.
“Make sure you bring something warm”, was his only advice. It was actually quite warm and I was enjoying exposing my skin to the increase in temp. The Spanish tan was packing its bags and leaving to a warmer climate. I had to save it, by wearing shorts and a tank tee.
In winter, I could imagine that the carpark would be littered with poles and boards, fluorescent colours creeping across muddied snow. Instead there were a couple of people, milling about.
This was to become a day of many firsts and memorable moments.
Our first gondola ride angled up high, whirring parallel to the slope, over roads and homes. The next gondola clicked through as the villages below shrank into a model replica of Switzerland. Two long gondola rides weren’t enough to reach the crown of this stately king.
The crisp mountain air tousled my hair and a path lead to a chair lift. Crap. I’m part-time ok on chairlifts, as long as they are relatively still and I don’t look down to where everything could drop and smash below. Once, my eldest nephew sensed my fear like a rampant hyena while we were on the Luge chairlifts in Rotorua. He jiggled the safety bar that rocked our seat, watched my eyes pop out, and laughed. I threatened him with tears and making a scene.
The chair lift was roomy enough for three. I focused on looking up, across and out. Dots were navigating the boulders and stirring the waving grass. I snuck a peek of below. Rock points pierced through the pasture. It was a long drop to impalement.
One chairlift lead to another.
“It’s going really fast”, I said.
“That’s only half the speed.”
I would not want to be on this thing, come wintertime.
The peak was cold and whipped with wind. I pulled on my sweater that hadn’t been used in months and pretended it was my puffer jacket filled with down. The restaurant was a means for shelter and filling our bellies with local fare. I had a meat fest; chowing down on over-sized schnitzel and chips. I figured that the extra bites would provide another layer of internal warmth.
Out in the open we traipsed through the pretty alpine flowers that smiled in hues of cornflower blue, alabaster, and droplets of scarlet dye that had flooded a milky flow. A small still lake was the watering hole for the local bovine crowd.
What was that, around their necks? The jerseys wore large leather belts with sizeable bells hanging from around their necks. Forget the fairy tales – cows actually wear bells around their necks! The dingle-dangle drifting in the breeze is an archaic GPS location device for our dairy producing friends.
There was only so much chatting to the cows that I could do, until I was interrupted by the view. Over the rise and smack in the face there were four countries, casually just lounging around. Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, and Germany were there in one glorious image, like it was no big deal. But this was incomprehensible to the chick that had come from an island nation at the bottom of the world.
Curious cows with bells, multiple gondola and chair lift rides, on top of a mountain… on top of the world! My mind was blown and my breath had officially been carried away. I was alive to the tune of The Sound of Music.
I was feeling full of life, until it was time to leave. Standing in front of the chair lift, the penny had slowly dropped to inform me that I would in fact be going on that scary thing. And in the presence of a child, I could not expel profanities from the descent of the death-defying seat.
I closed my eyes tight until I felt my eyeballs retract into my brain during the rush of the chair taking off before the drop. Carefully opening one lid at a time, I was again reminded of the sheer beauty that I was immersed in. I lanced the tranquil scene, calming my nerves by becoming a right old Chatty Cathy.
It was a relief to have my feet touch the ground again, pushing through my comfort levels to witness something majestic that will be etched into my memory bank for years to come. There’s more to share from this Swiss Miss; the area around me was a real treat, including a visit to the quaint Heidiland, walking through small vineyard plots, and trying my hand at driving – eek! Until then, X