Riding the Alps
Since I was already half way around the world, I figured I would pop over to Switzerland to visit Al Peters for a few days of riding. Al is a family friend, an ex pat, who has been living in Switzerland since 1975.
It’s hard to describe Swiss culture, but the aesthetics definitely reflect the values of engineering, and logical austerity. Everything is well thought out and designed to last, with precision emphasized over style. I guess this shouldn’t be surprising for a culture known for crafting watches.
After being picked up in Geneva from the TGV (I love the TGV! I wish we had more high speed land based travel like this in the states!) we headed to Als place. In the morning, we drove up to Verbier, and rode there for the day, before then driving to Zermat. Driving through the mountains was fun, the mountain scenery is gorgeous, and I spied a few landmarks that were inspirations for Ridge Racer and Rally Racing. There are tons of tunnels and bridges, I think the Swiss look for any excuse to build infrastructure.
The aesthetics of the ski villages are much more like what you would picture Switzerland to look like. As if Christmas and Winter decided to have a baby, and that baby was a town. Given it snows here 5 months a year, you can imagine the winter wonderland aesthetic working quite well.
Being such an international place, everyone seems to speak at least a little English, but mostly Swiss variations of French and German.
The Alps are like nothing I’ve ever seen before from my experiences in North America. Instead of a single Tram or Gondola that takes you to the top, imagine a series of them all linked up that take you from mountain top to mountain top, endlessly. We saw maybe 20 percent of the terrain after 2 days of riding. The snow wasn’t particularly great, but the views alone made it all worthwhile. I think the Matterhorn is my new favorite peak.
I discovered Gulache, and now think it is the ideal midday ski meal. Filling, but doesn’t make you tired.
When Al moved here 30 years ago, the exchange rate was 4 CHF to the dollar. Its now almost at parity, which says a lot about the American Economy of late.
On my last night, we had Raclette : Molten cheese served with Potatoes and spicy mustard. It was a treat to be hosted, and I look forward to coming back for an extended stay in the future.