After a brilliant night’s sleep in Interlaken, we got up bright and early and made our way over to Niederhorn for a day of ski fun!
Niederhorn is your obvious ski spot. I mean, it is, but typically, it’s more so for the locals than it is for travellers. There aren’t really ski lodges here so most people who visit tend to live around the area (or like us, happen to get a brilliant recommendation to visit).
Thanks to this, you get some pretty exceptional slopes all to yourself here and the chance to hang out with the locals. 🙂
The ride up here takes like 30 minutes from Interlaken to the village of Beatenberg and is a perfect taste of what life is like in Switzerland. Little children, still young enough to cry when saying goodbye to their parents (this actually happened, by the way), hop on the bus on their own to school, you whizz past pretty little Swiss villages, the stunning Swiss Alps and you get an amazing view of Jungfraujoch and Lake Thun as you go along.
I realised once we got to the top that the last time I’d skied was almost a year ago and started down the slopes in the most awkward Bambi-on-ice style while trying to remember everything I’d learnt.
It was only after a tumble, which saw one of my skis fly down a mountain (oh my gosh, what a pain it was to retrieve that thing), that I realised I just needed to relax. Skiing is so much better (and more fun) when you relax into it and stop trying to over-think everything.
I didn’t fall down once after I remembered that.
It was also at that point, I actually got to fully appreciate how stunning the scenery around us was. Swiss-ski perfect at it’s very best – even the clouds that hung earlier on had made their way over to other parts of the Alps, leaving us with beautiful sunshine.
After an amazing time at the Niederhorn, we made our way back to Interlaken, grabbed our stuff at the hotel and made our way over to our next stop in Switzerland – Zermatt and the beautiful Matterhorn!
The train journey to Zermatt is another pretty one and one which, despite two changes from Interlaken, feels like just one long train journey. (Swiss trains are truly unlike any other trains anywhere else in the world – they just run so brilliant on time and save any faff or waiting around).
Anyway, there we were, finally in Zermatt – a place we’d wanted to visit for the longest time. (A friend of ours always visits every year and constantly raves about the place).
We made a quick stop in town to pick up our ski gear before hopping onto the Gornergrat railway to make our way up into the mountains. The Gornergrat railway is also the train you’d take all year round to get a great view of the Matterhorn (you can already see as you’re going up on the train but the view from up in the mountains makes it totally worth the trek).
The Matterhorn, by the way, is one of the tallest mountains in all of Europe and more popularly, the icon of Toblerone chocolate bars! 😀
We were making our way up to the mountains in part for that view but mostly because we would be spending the night in an igloo up there! An actual igloo!!!
I was equal parts nervous and excited when we arrived. The excitement was, well because we’d be staying in an igloo! The nervousness was because I had no idea what it would be like to sleep in an igloo, or how we would stay warm or many other ice-related concerns – especially considering it was -20C up there.
To save you the hassle of carting your stuff around, you leave whatever you don’t want to take at the hotel up here and then make your way up even further on the train and then walk downhill to the igloo.
The view was you do this is absolutely spectacular and by the time you arrive at the igloo, although it’s like -2C inside, it feels absolutely tropical compared to the outside. 😀
We started off with some gluhwein (mulled wine) to warm us up, before heading around for a tour. There’s a hot tub here, a warming room, a wooden hut with a fireplace for drinks later on but most importantly – you get to check out the other rooms in the igloos!
There are lots of different categories – standard rooms right up to Romantic suites with their own hot tubs, warming rooms and bathrooms in the igloo!
The art in the rooms changes from year to year and this year was all about Norse mythology. We’re talking Thor, Loki and many other Norse mythological gods and goddesses. (*The Loki room kinda freaked me our a bit – look at those eyes watching over you! 😆😁😆 Apparently, in original Norse mythology, Loki isn’t a bad guy and was actually protector of the humans).
After having a look around, you settle into your room, where I crawled into my sleeping bed (y’know, to test it out) and promptly fell asleep! I had no idea it would be that cosy in there. I ended up waking up like 30 minutes after dinner had started (don’t know why Lloyd didn’t wake me up earlier) and hurried made my way over to the ice restaurant for fondue!
Dinner done with, we decided to take a dip in the hot tub (I refused to take my camera or phone with me for obvious reasons) and at a warm 40C, you don’t just jump into that hot tub! You ease your way in very slowly.
40C isn’t even that hot – definitely not hot enough to wince when you get in but when you’re out in -20C (or at the minimum, -2C), it feels soooooo much hotter.
After a while though, you get used to it and that hot tub is the perfect thing to do before bed as every bit of you is so nice and toasty – so much so that you even hold onto that heat when you’re in the hut with the fireplace.
I had such an amazing night’s sleep that night which is something that took me totally by surprise. Turns out, those sleeping bags are built to keep you warm even at -40C so you’re ridiculously toasty inside them. I didn’t stir once till we were woken up the next morning with a piping hot cup of tea. Who’d have thought it – in an igloo of all places! (This is when you kinda remind yourself that there are people across the world who actually live or have lived in igloos!)
The igloos were booked with Iglu-Dorf – who have igloos in other spots in Europe and it was when they were describing what they had to do to take the igloos down pre-spring and summer that you realise how sturdy these things are!
Apparently, they try to bulldoze them and it doesn’t even make a dent. The explosives teams (the ones that set off controlled avalanches so they happen unplanned) tried to blow them up and couldn’t (they made a tiny dent in a window somewhere). So much force has been used including placing ridiculously heavy stuff on it but it still doesn’t work so they just let nature take its course and let the sun get rid of it as it gets warmer. Who knew, eh?
After teas, we packed up and made our way down the mountain (only a 10 minute walk downhill) to the hotel for breakfast and to pick up our ski gear for a day of skiing in Zermatt.
The walk down is pretty spectacular as you have the Matterhorn looking over you with the moon in the background (like some wise counsel to the Matterhorn) as you walk down the mountains.
In front of you, you have other parts of the stunning Swiss Alps so it’s a stunning view everywhere you look – a view which only gets better as the sun rises, warming up the Zermatt for what promised to be an incredible day of skiing!
But first – breakfast! Skiing would have to wait for the very next post. 😀