We asked Monica, the woman who owned the chalet where we were staying in, for some suggestions about places to take the kids sledding. (Or sledging. Or tobogganing. Or rodelbahn.
) We had originally thought we were going to have to drive a long distance, closer to the Alps to find some good snow and hills. But she told us that just across the border, in Germany in the Black Forest (that sounds so foreboding!) there were places that would suit us just fine. And BONUS- she had sleds and toboggans for us.
Monday morning we dressed warm because Monica warned us it would be really cold, and jam-packed the kids and the sleds in the car and crossed the river into Germany.
It was so beautiful driving up there. I didn’t take any pictures, I’m not sure why, I suppose I thought I’d take them on the way home. It was snowing giant, fluffy flakes and about 20 minutes into our drive the roads were snow packed. For a minute Richard and I wondered if it was smart to keep going, but there were plenty of others headed where we were, so we kept on. We stopped at a small grocery store to buy some snacks for lunch and there were so many delicious looking cookies and biscuits, I wanted to buy them all. But I’ll tell you exactly what there wasn’t. Not a bag of potato chips/crisps to be seen in the entire store. So I just bought more cookies.
We had trouble finding what exactly it was that Monica told us we were looking for, but we did find a ski hill, with a sledding hill next to it so we thought we’d give it a shot. The car was telling us it was -8 Celcius, which is about 17 degrees Fahrenheit. BRRRR!
We put all our snow clothes on and hit the hill. The kids were having fun, but we learned an important (and probably obvious, really) lesson quickly. Wellies are fabulous for keeping water/moisture out. But they are not adequate for keeping COLD out. Our poor toes were frozen in about 20 minutes. So we went back to the car to warm up and look for other sledding options. We had heard of a tube hill so we decided to try and find it.
Sledding- Round One
A couple things that made Round One difficult: The snow was still fresh powder so it was quite slow. And it took a few runs to figure out which sleds were the best.
We drove around the little town near the ski hill and then up and around the mountain. At one point we saw a tourist office so I went in to ask for help. The woman behind the counter didn’t speak English so we sat down at her computer and typed back and forth to each other using Google Translate.
This is a good place to mention that the Swiss people were so kind. They always gave their best effort when speaking English, rarely gave themselves enough credit for how well they spoke it, and if they didn’t speak it at all, would bend over backwards to find someone who did or to help us in any way they could think. (Case in point, above.)
To make a long story short, we decided to go back to our original spot and give it another try. By now the temperature had warmed up to -4° (26° F) and the snow had packed down better and for some reason our feet stayed warmer the second time around.
Once Cameron and Eli got the hang of it they were unstoppable. They would race, they would hike higher and higher up the hill, and they would have contests to see who could slide the farthest at the end. Mim and Si took a few turns but they were mostly content to play in the snow and watch and run around.
I was so proud of Eli. He is the kind of kid that can really fixate or obsess when something isn’t quite right. And he is also not the kind of kid who likes to do anything risky or remotely dangerous. So to see him have such a good time was really satisfying for Richard and me.
Cameron is more of a risk taker, and sometimes that resulted in this.
Mim and Simon would only go down the hill if Richard or I held on to their sled or shared a sled with them.
By the time Richard headed back to the car with the littles, Simon’s his lips were as blue as his coat.
I love Cam’s facial expression in this one.
Eli really wanted me to take a photo-finish.
When your face is so cold you can’t smile properly.
Rosy cheeks + toothless grin = Totes adorbs.
Cameron and Eli wanted to sled for a while longer after Miriam and Simon had maxed out so I stayed with them until I was sufficiently frozen as well. The snow continued to fall while we made the drive back into Switzerland but I couldn’t take any pictures because my camera lens fogged up really badly when we got back into the warm car.
When we told the kids about our holiday in Switzerland in the weeks and days leading up to it, we really talked up the snow. I think the sledding day lived up to their expectations and it’s the thing they still talk about when the subject of Switzerland comes up. It’s a bit hard for me to not be frustrated that they don’t mention all the other neat things they got to see, but Richard reminds me that they are kids after all. And I’m glad that I have him to make sure we do things besides cathedrals and museums.
Black Forest Trees. I had to find a photo online because they were just so enchanting, with their weary, droopy branches, heavy with snow. It was like something straight out of a Tolstoy story. This road is exactly what it looked like as we drove out of the forest. (Except it was not sunny blue sky, it was still snowing.)