With Europe as her playground, one author deviates from her familiar travel routines, trying thrilling recreational activities that give way to new and exciting perspectives.
This is an excerpt from Lifestyle Asia’s April 2023 Issue.
As humans, we crave for things that are not always easily accessible to us. People who live in colder climes crave for the warmth of the sun and glistening, turquoise seas. Winter holidays, meanwhile, have always been popular among those like us who dwell in the tropics. Most of us remember the first time we saw snow but other than being a core memory immortalized in our holiday photographs, what else is there for us during winter holidays?
I lived in Berlin for over three years and winter always reminds me of cold, gray months that came with rain. During this time of year, I would find myself in museums and cafés, reserving outdoor exploration for when the weather was kinder. I’m also not the most adventurous or the sportiest of travelers. So my intention during a recent winter trip to Switzerland was to sit out the activities and go for the familiar. I planned on enjoying cozy restaurants and joining the rest of our group for après-ski.
But the Swiss are pretty good at convincing people to try something out first before deciding it’s not really for you. Before I knew it, I was squeezing into wetsuits for winter kayaking. Later, into ski gear in Mürren and then in Mt. First, dragging my sled back up a slope, raring to have another go.
“I thought it was just for sporty people,” I told a Thai journalist in our group while we were in our ski class. I was having way more fun than I expected and would have stayed longer if only the sun wasn’t about to make an exit. “Oh, no. Skiing is already so popular among the Thais!” That includes people who weren’t so sporty before. There was something about it that’s so addictive.
True enough, our Southeast Asian neighbors are already a constant fixture in the Bernese Alps during this time of year, appreciating Swiss nature and landscapes from a different point of view. Are we next?
I certainly hope so as there’s much to see and enjoy even beyond the slopes. One can even travel to multiple ski towns conveniently and sustainably through the Swiss Travel Pass which gives access to the railway and cable car lines. Not once did I miss being in a car during the whole trip.
Between two lakes is the town of Interlaken which looks straight out of a fairy tale. I’ve been here before during spring and it was absolutely colorful and splendid then. During winter, it turns into something no short of magical.
Ask for a room on one of the higher floors facing the main square at Hotel Metropole (CHF160/night). It will offer you a view of the mountains Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau–breathtaking at any time of day. Have dinner at Italian joint Sapori inside the Victoria Jungfrau hotel next door for a taste of authentic Italian dishes while being surrounded by old-world luxury.
Go on a winter kayaking tour on Lake Brienz. High Tide Kayak School (Adult CHF130, Child 12-15 years CHF115) provides suits and shoes that keep you from getting cold or wet. The tour ends at the medieval Ringgenberg Castle on top of a small hill, offering great views of the famed villages surrounding the lake. You get to have tea and cookies with your friends at the castle before paddling back to shore. It was quite the experience and if I was able to do it without falling into the water, so can you.
The little village of Mürren, only accessible by cable car, is a delight to visit. Yes, it’s a ski destination first and foremost, but the charming village of 400 people will immediately steal your heart. This is the place where we took our ski lessons (CHF 189/2 hours) with the most patient yet efficient instructor. We took walks around the quaint little village where the people were friendly and engaging. Stopping by the one grocery store for a bottle of Petite Arvine can instantly make you feel like a local.
Evenings at Hotel Alpenruh (CHF190/night) are cozy and warm, giving you the experience of staying in an actual Swiss chalet just a few meters from the cable car station. Have dinner at Hotel Blumental’s restaurant for the most memorable ravioli.
From Mürren, Schilthorn is just a short cable car ride away. The mountain’s peak is easily recognizable because of the building on top–Piz Gloria–a filming location for one of the famed 007 movies. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service made skiing even more hip when it hit the theaters in 1969. Blofeld’s lair now has a museum dedicated to the film and a revolving restaurant that offers brunch. There’s also a bar where one can order cocktails, preferably a martini–shaken, not stirred.
Read more by purchasing a copy of the Lifestyle Asia April 2023 magazine via SariSari.shopping or select newsstands in National Bookstore and Fully Booked. Subscribe to the E-Magazine via Readly, Magzter, and Press Reader.
Banner Photo courtesy of Carol RH Malasig.