Tag Archives: Switzerland

Skiing in Switzerland: Allison Pearson learns to cross-country ski in Pontresina

imageIf you don’t learn to ski in your youth, every year it gets harder to take the plunge, says Allison Pearson. But the self-proclaimed ‘scaredy-cat Mum’ found her ski legs in the Swiss resort of Pontresina.

To be honest, I was not the most promising candidate for midlife skiing lessons. “But, darling, you’re scared of heights and you hate falling over,” Himself pointed out when I suggested we spend last February half-term in Switzerland. He had a point, but I was not going to be deterred by anything as irritating as male common sense.

A friend had told me that the Grand Hotel Kronenhof in Pontresina was heaven on earth. I was emerging from a rather tenacious depression and I hoped that skiing could clear my head. I craved the grandeur and the stillness of the mountains. I wanted that silver air in my lungs. I had visions of myself as Audrey Hepburn in Charade, swathed in sable and sipping a hot chocolate in a café on the glittering slopes waiting for Cary Grant. Clearly, I felt a powerful attraction towards the après part of après-ski. All I needed now was to figure out the ski part. And not fall over.

Skiing in Switzerland: Allison Pearson learns to cross-country ski in Pontresina

imageIf you don’t learn to ski in your youth, every year it gets harder to take the plunge, says Allison Pearson. But the self-proclaimed ‘scaredy-cat Mum’ found her ski legs in the Swiss resort of Pontresina.

To be honest, I was not the most promising candidate for midlife skiing lessons. “But, darling, you’re scared of heights and you hate falling over,” Himself pointed out when I suggested we spend last February half-term in Switzerland. He had a point, but I was not going to be deterred by anything as irritating as male common sense.

Skiing in Andermatt: the Swiss resort that is not a swizz

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The little-known resort of Andermatt makes for great-value, laid-back skiing, says Yolanda Carslaw.

Andermatt might not look much from the road; bleak, with few trees, a shady summit above and a barracks standing guard. But if you venture on to its pretty streets, then An-der-Matt (“on the meadow”) is quaint and compact – and surprisingly good value for Switzerland. At an altitude of 1,444m between three mountain passes, it has inexpensive hotels and restaurants on an L-shaped main street, as well as 78 miles of quiet slopes – and down-to-earth locals and visitors.

Ski: avalanche accidents increase following record snow levels

imagePeter Hardy reports on how the best snow cover in a generation in the Alps has led to a major increase in the number of deaths and injuries caused by avalanches.

A week after Prince John Friso, 43, was seriously injured by an avalanche after skiing in Lech, Austria, much of the country is buried under the deepest snow in memory, with up to six metres at high altitude in the Tirol and Voralberg regions.

In the past week alone, three people have died and seven escaped uninjured in six separate incidents in the country, caused by the latest in a long string of avalanches. This compares to only three deaths in Austria last year, thought due to the exceptionally light snow cover last season.

A history of skiing in Mürren, Switzerland

imageDesperate to enjoy current skiing conditions in the Alps, Adam Ruck secures a last-minute deal to Mürren.

To arrive in the Swiss Alps at the tail end of a snowstorm seems like good timing, as long as your ski resort is accessible. A single traveller – me – separates himself from the Wengen-bound throng at Lauterbrunnen station, crosses the road with a smile of self-congratulation at having chosen the road less travelled, when a notice on the door of the Mürrenbahn stops him in his tracks. Geschlossen. Closed. It is time for a phone call to the Hotel Eiger.

A history of skiing in Mürren, Switzerland

imageDesperate to enjoy current skiing conditions in the Alps, Adam Ruck secures a last-minute deal to Mürren.

To arrive in the Swiss Alps at the tail end of a snowstorm seems like good timing, as long as your ski resort is accessible. A single traveller – me – separates himself from the Wengen-bound throng at Lauterbrunnen station, crosses the road with a smile of self-congratulation at having chosen the road less travelled, when a notice on the door of the Mürrenbahn stops him in his tracks. Geschlossen. Closed. It is time for a phone call to the Hotel Eiger.

Skiing holiday advice: how to save money

imageNick Trend offers advice on where and when to get the most for your money this season.

As Peter Hardy points out in his report, it looks as though it will be a classic season for snow – most skiers will want to bag a week if they possibly can. But which week will offer the best prices, the best snow and the quietest pistes? I’ve talked to some leading ski operators and tried to predict how the rest of the season is likely to pan out, to offer a strategy for finding the best value.

Ski like it’s 1899 at ‘Belle Époque’ week, Switzerland

imageWhat was skiing like in its earliest days? Adrian Bridge gets some idea at ‘Belle Époque’ week in the Swiss resort of Kandersteg.

For one terrifying moment, I felt exactly as I did the first time I ever put on a pair of skis and faced down a mountain. Gulp! Where do I go from here?

My fear had a lot to do with what was on my feet: two extremely long pieces of wood with no finely honed edges, no firm bindings at the back and almost no flexibility.

These were the skis that those plucky pioneers of winter sports holidays – many of them British – would have been wearing when they first began exploring the Swiss Alps more than 100 years ago. And suddenly I had a whole lot more respect for what they had achieved.

Top 10 property safe havens abroad

As an economic hurricane rages through traditional destinations in Europe and the US, buyers must look abroad to these top 10 property safe havens.
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The euro is in crisis. Stock markets are in freefall. Two prime ministers have been sacked. Italian debt is at record levels, and Spain faces an early election tomorrow. Across the pond, America’s annual budget deficit is measured in trillions.

One by one the traditional destinations for British house-hunters are becoming badlands. Rather than stay in the quagmire, it’s time for buyers to seek new pastures. There are always safe havens if you look hard enough.

he best travel destinations in Uruguay

imageSouth America and ‘traveling’ in the same sentence rarely conjures up the name of Uruguay. This South American county is no on the major tourist circuits, the River of Colorful Birds (that’s what the country’s name means) is often called the South American equivalent of Switzerland, not because of how it looks, but how it works. Uruguay is one of the best kept secrets in South America, which has more to offer than it is given credit for. Pristine beaches and friendly cities aside, there’s a lot going on in Uruguay that can interest tourists from all over the world. To give you a taste of this amazing country, here are the best travel destinations in Uruguay.

The 40-something ski bum: Why heavy ski gear needn’t be a burden

Is there any easy way to carry bulky luggage to the Alps? James Bedding offers tips on travelling to Switzerland with skis, snowboards – and other outsize items.

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Given the trouble Laurel and Hardy had carrying a piano in ‘The Music Box’ (see footage here), you might think twice about attempting to bring one across Europe and up a vertical mile to a ski resort. Perhaps travelling with a traditional upright piano – an instrument that in Stan and Ollie’s hands turned into a weapon of mass destruction – would be ambitious. But what about carrying a modern digital piano?

It can be done, as I found out recently. Heaving the piano onto the luggage rack of Eurostar may have been a challenge, but wheeling it through the streets of Paris was a breeze, and gliding on the TGV through France and on Swiss trains surprisingly hassle-free.

Alpine refuges: high times in the Italian mountains

Clare Mann tours Italy’s isolated – and occasionally very cold – mountain refuges.

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Why would you want to sleep in a refuge in winter?” asked Brigitte, a friend from Chamonix. “In the summer, when I go mountaineering, is bad enough. You won’t sleep a wink at the altitudes. There are horrible smells and noises, and everyone drinks to blot out the experience.”

This didn’t bode well, as we were to spend three nights in the Aosta Valley from Cervinia to Alagna, then four nights in the Dolomites, staying in mountain refuges around Cortina. From Turin we took a taxi to Cervinia. There, my husband, Edward, and I met Poldo from Guide Monterosa, who had touring skis, boots and rucksacks waiting for us at the ski lift.

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