Saas-Fee is known as the "Die Perle der Alpen", or The Pearl of the Alps. It is settled in the heart of the Swiss Alps, and is one of the most popular skiing destinations, as the European Graduate School is located in Saas-Fee and supplies the village with lots of lively, fun-loving people.
On Saturday morning, we all met downstairs for breakfast... After breakfast and a quick trip to a shop in the village for granola bars and bottles of water, we trekked through the village and out to the cable cars. Call it cheating, but we took the cable cars up, and walked back down... And LET ME TELL YOU... Thank GOD we did, the walk down was more difficult than I had imagined!!
The first stop was the mountain Langfhlu... It was so shocking to have left the sunny, warm village at the bottom and step out of the cable car into the breezy, cool air of the mountain peak!! The photo above is of a glacier that sort of sits between two peaks of the mountain range.
The village looked SO tiny below us... I kept thinking the mountains behind it looked like the ones on the Swiss Miss hot chocolate boxes!! :)
Love this photo... Swiss flag flying over the mountain...
Hiking boots as flower pots at a little restaurant at the top of Langfhlu...
As we climbed higher, we could see more of the glacier... This is where my headache started and I felt a little scared for some reason!!
Then someone had the bright idea to HIKE down the snowy part of the mountain (everyone else had declared that section "too snowy" and was taking the cable car down) so a few of us were convinced, and followed him down through the snow... At first, it was a little chilly, but the STEEP hiking warmed me up and we kept going!!
But after a while, we started slipping because the snow was at a warmer temperature and more wet (making it about 2-3 feet in some places instead of the 2-3 inches at the top). AND... much to my surprise (and terror!!) there was a FROZEN RIVER underneath all of the snow... So my jeans, socks, and hiking shoes were completely drenched by the time we finally made it out of the snow almost an hour later.
Kids feeding a "marmot" - who lives on the non-snowy part of the mountain!!
This one even ate a peanut right out of my hand!! They are so precious!!
Almost down to the village!! Taken from the deck of our restaurant at lunch!!
The "chairs" at the restaurant... Vintage Honda motorcycles :)
Our lunch was a super-traditional German-Swiss meal of dried meats, cheese, and fresh apricots!
Mountain stream that flows right through the village of Saas-Fee!! Hike is almost done!!
The stream makes everything on the mountain SO green...
I fell in love with this perfect little restaurant in the village... JUST what you think of when you hear "Switzerland"!!
After shopping for souvenirs in the village, treating myself to a fresh Swiss pastry in bed (it's becoming my terrible tradition - sweets in bed), and getting into a cozy sweater and boots, it was time for dinner with everyone!! Dinner was right in our hotel... And it was a traditional German-Swiss dish called "Raclette" - where a half-wheel of Swiss cheese is melted over an open flame.
After the cheese starts to melt, the cook takes the cheese away from the flame and uses a huge knife to scrape the melted layer of cheese onto baby potatoes!! The plates are then distributed to everyone... And you add pepper, salt, and paprika to the cheese before eating it!!
My first taste of "Raclette"!! So delicious...
After dinner, the owner of the hotel convinced two of the guys to dress up as old "village women" and pass out shots of this STRONG alcohol - I can't remember the name now - while he played the accordion and sung traditional Swiss songs!! I could smell the alcohol from the person sitting next to me... It smelled like pure Listerine... So I had to turn it down, but it did lead to some late-night singing in those who managed to take their shot!! After the long day of hiking, walking through the village, and laughing so hard after dinner I think I got the BEST night of sleep I have ever had... I slept so soundly that I woke up Sunday and was CONVINCED that I was late to leave for the city!!
(The truth?? - - I was an HOUR early to breakfast, which NEVER happens!!)
I loved getting to see the other side of Switzerland this weekend... The German language, mountains, simple foods, and quiet calm ways of the people who live there. Apart from a sunburn I acquired during the hike down the mountain, my experience in the mountains was fantastic... I would go back in a heartbeat!! Xoxo B.