Just returned from my first holiday in ten years, a short alpine spa break. Not that I’m overly health conscious or a slave to the body beautiful. This was a very welcome break from the norm, a rest for my writer’s brain, which has been working overtime for the past two years. So for a whole week I managed (with questionable ease) to completely stay away from social media, email checking and mobile phones. The latter being a breeze as my phone battery died two years ago. I do have a charger but as I don’t have children or a boss, I don’t need to be contactable on demand or check my bank balance on the go.
I’ll try to keep this post brief. Went to Bern the capital city, stayed one night in the centre.
This city made me swoon. Here is my favourite building, the federal parliament. Much of the state architecture is of this grey-green Bernese sandstone. Bold sturdy blocks, regimented and ever so butch.
We visited the Rosengarten on one of the hottest days this year, thirty-four degrees or thereabouts.
After smelling the roses we headed to the restaurant. My ever-prepared darlin’ had reserved table on the patio over looking the city. The camera I have is a bit crap at seeing what I see when pressing the shutter. So my pictures don’t do the view justice.
After a lunch of cold roast beef, tartar sauce and fries, we checked into our room and then went shopping. When I packed for the trip I was hit with the sad reality that, all my old glad rags no longer fitted. I had nothing decent to wear. Most of my clothes are doggy clothes or youthful tops with writing on. As I’m trying to become more dignified I purposely sought to buy age appropriate clothing. Two plain short-sleeved shirts and a pair of dark shorts later, I gave up. Oh yeah I mustn’t forget the pair of plastic sunglasses that just happen to be glamorously large enough to cover the bags under my eyes.
We have a very large car boot so my hubby insisted that Princess Pea (no idea why he calls me that) should pack my special Waitrose earl grey tea bags (available in Manor) my favourite mug and also the kettle. Yes I know, mad in it? Funny how in the hotel the kettle was missing, and just has I had brewed up, the maid knocked with the kettle.
In Switzerland many things are overpriced, meat is regarded as a luxury food in our house. Therefore dinner at The Beef, a reputable steak house is a proper treat. Shame I already had roast beef for lunch. Never mind I chose Bison with side orders of coleslaw, mushrooms, and fries washed down with two glasses of red wine. I feel full just remembering how much beef I ate in Bern.
Oh and as sizzling as the day was, we sat inside. A loud English speaker three tables down provided a little entertainment, moaning how all her dinner friends were peering down at their phones. And for once I could understand why. She was so bloody loud and spoke the most boring crap you could imagine. If I wasn’t so sophisticated I would have told her to shut her trap, but I ay like that. Still the chef sent us a complimentary aperitif. After dinner we took a late evening stroll, found a quiet corner to gaze out over the city whilst catching a cool breeze. That was Bern.
SPA —- — —
We arrived at the Cambrian Hotel situated amid the pristine scenery of the Swiss Alps(blurb from their homepage) a little before check-in. The reception staff who greeted us were extremely courteous and from what I could see, totally blemish free. So too was our room, the window circled. It looked out over the Alps and to the pool below. The small balcony on the side, perfect for smokers came with an ashtray and an equally inspiring view of someone’s home-grown plants. I seem in tune with locating specific horticultural specimens, no matter where I roam. Still as an advocate of recreational use, it is a pleasant sight to see.
Note: This post is not about getting stoned, even if I do spend a great deal of my time shrouded behind a mellow veil of cosiness… Moving swiftly along…
I was eager to dip my toes in the pool so once we’d parked the car in the reasonably priced, chf15 a day covered car park, we left our luggage in the room and headed to the spa.
Despite wearing more than I would on a beach, I found it weird walking through the corridors wearing a white bathrobe. I felt bashful as if naked, like in one of those trouser-less dreams we (we?) sometimes have. Luckily the lift went straight down to the spa area, so my blushes were spared the indignity of strangers rushing to glimpse my exposed ankles.
I do look a little different from behind and see how the sun picks up the traces of Celtic red in my hair…. Oh, it’s not me. Simple mistake to make, like the facets of a cut jewel we beautiful people do tend to morph into one generic vision of complete loveliness making it difficult to tell us apart.
Meanwhile back on earth…
This publicity shot made me suspect that the outside pool would be small. I mentally prepared myself because one thing I can’t stand is disappointment and it turned out to be bigger and better. From midday to around five it was practically empty. I suppose that’s the difference between a hotel with spa facilities and a health spa. I could float around on my back, eyes closed listening to the sequence of the hot-tub features relatively undisturbed. The almost silent power jets below the surface. Ticklish feet should not be held in front of them. Then there’s the much louder rumble of bubbles that come from the metal seating. Talking over the chuckling water is too much of an exertion when chilled to a moderate temperature of around 32° Celsius, so the position of this seat makes perfect use of the epic alpine views. This is about the point at which the world stops turning. Then finally in the sequence, the hefty massage gushes that flood from huge stainless steal pipes. The practice of being hit by gallons of water per second is way too extreme a sport for me. Reminds me of almost drowning, still some people like it. The romantic in me was soften upon seeing young loved-up couples and oldies, who I’d decided have cherished each other for years. I did have a preconception of the place being full of displaying peacocks with toned bodies. I’d say, excluding myself, the general level of gorgeousness peaked at just above average. All in all the outside pool didn’t disappoint.
In the evening we ate in the restaurant downstairs. I opted for the following:
Clear beef soup / Greyerzer ravioli / vegetable stripes
A light and not too salty beef soup with big Gruyère cheese raviolis floating around with a whiskered selection of veg. Amongst those slithers I tasted celery, which is, in my opinion not much different to ear wax. Still I persevered and ate all in my bowl. By the way you do EAT soup. Oh mustn’t forget the commoner in me couldn’t resist dipping the warm buttered bread roll into my soup.
Corn fed chicken breast stuffed with scampi wrapped in zucchini /flower vegetables /saffron risotto
Moist chicken encasing scampi or scampis. Maybe scampii no it’s scampi. Regardless I definitely saw one, I wasn’t really looking because I was attempting to appear casual. Eating maggoty fish things is new to me. The new improved grown up me insists that I explore new foods. Wrapped in courgette and placed on a generous two-spoon dollop of yellow stuff, saffron risotto which may have had mushed up sweetcorn in it. Also dotted about the plate were some tiny florets of broccoli, cauliflower and that ugly looking other one. It all tasted pleasant enough and I cleared my plate.
Warm banana macadamia cake / raspberry ice cream / passion fruit
Pure delight. A cheeky banana muffin; a touch nutty and warm not unlike myself. Along with raspberry ice cream resting on a caramelised nest, a splurge of passion fruit and a lone cape gooseberry partially dressed. This sweet is well worth a return visit.
Personally I hate long blogs and this one is way over… So we wrapped up the day with a few games of pool in the small billiard room before retiring to the balcony and shortly after I slept.
GEOCACHING —- — —
After a comfortably cool night of rest, I woke bright and early before the alarm clock stirred. The plus thirty-five degree heat wave blocked by grey clouds and morning mist. How lovely and perfect for a steep walk. We’d set the alarm for, I actually can’t remember the time but it was set for breakfast. We don’t use alarm clocks normally yet we packed one to come on holiday. However as an insomniac there is nothing worse than not knowing how much sleep you’re losing out on. So a red LED clock helps me sleep.
Another endearing quirk of the freak that I am I suppose. I have so many sweet little foibles, some even pass for normal. Like liking tea.
I questioned my astute guide’s suggestion to pack all the gubbins required, as we have a big boot, to ensure maximum cosiness on this exploration trip of ours. He, my loved one, being Swiss is under the strange impression that a decent cup of tea is crucial in ensuring a happy Brit. So we also took the electric kettle, some teabags and my preferred mug. The cost of the room included a breakfast buffet, a chocolate on the pillow but not a kettle. Some people love nothing better than to be proven right. Me for instance, alas I was the idiot one saying “Naw, don’t be silly, a kettle?” Fifteen years experience, hubby resigns himself to a typical, head shaking sky glance. Anyway I’m rambling and I haven’t done breakfast. Time to get downstairs before the guests cough over everything. Another kink of mine, I abhor eating cake with candles.
I was first for breakfast and as it was holiday I allowed myself to indulge in some of the foods I’ve cut from my everyday diet. I casually sauntered by the cereal. Indulge and muesli, what an oddball image. I wanted bacon, scrambled eggs and butter. Whilst I was about it, two slices of white toast, a couple of wee sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes and a symbolic glass of fruit juice. I ordered tea and when it arrived I momentarily wished I were back in a certain builder’s café off the Finchley road. For many, making a decent brew consists of tipping boiling water on top of the tea, no matter I had my kettle.
On satisfyingly full stomachs we marched out of the hotel with our Garmin GPS indicator pointing up the hill. The route was steep, the morning mist was damp and thick it felt like October. There was a slight nip in the alpine air, which was much preferable to the swelter of past days.
Walking three steps behind the rising vapours we stayed dry climbing the well-trodden path. There were plenty of benches had we needed a rest but the views were still obscured at this ridiculously early hour. When we came within a few metres of the geocache our device beeped. The co-ordinates and clues were noted down after visiting the following website.
( Includes a short video on the opening page which explains geocaching. )
Terrain was rated 2/5, difficulty 1.5/5 and the size of the cache, micro although I’d have said normal. Other details can be found reading finder’s comments and written clues. As you can see below the path is quite manageable.
The clever thing about geocaching is that the members hide them and normally in amazing places with interesting views. Often in special locations that remain unknown to mainstream strollers. A standard cache would be a plastic sandwich box containing a book to sign, a pen and tokens left behind by other finders. Things like bottle tops, key-rings and pretty stones, general bits of plastic tat. The aim and thrill is in the find, searches can take a few seconds or many minutes, on rare occasions you have to admit defeat and walk away. I have found a cache hidden in a fake outdoor electric socket, took a while to twig that it was a stupid place for a power-point. Also a micro one inserted into a combination pad-lock at the train station. I took up this hobby after my dog passed, something to get me out the house as I missed the walks. I recommend geocaching to the curious and also people with children. On this trip we found two caches and logging our finds on the geocache.com website map stands as a souvenir of where we’ve been.
We had climbed upwards to locate our finds, the mist had cleared by this time and although cloudy a ginormous postcard landscape was our reward.
Downhill all the way back to the village, which was much busier than I’d expected. I imagined a ski location wouldn’t have much going on out of season. My mistake, like a page on the calendar they just flip to the summer programme.
A hikers paradise. One can travel by a high-wire gondola to Oeschinen Lake, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. Amble along on a peaceful nature walk and fill your lungs. For children and big kids, an adventure park with almost a mile of rope-ways and other climbing activities. Then there is Scooterland, something I did before and about as extreme as I get. Riding a wobbly gondola up a mountain and taking a big-wheeled scooter (with brakes) down again. I didn’t plan to do any of these activities on this check-it-out trip. The main purpose of which was to see if I could tolerate holidaying adult style.
My first time on a spa break and I don’t imagine it would be a full experience without a few treatments therefore a neck and shoulder massage and a facial had been scheduled. It was an expensive trip compared to two weeks on a beach but I’d done that, this was different. I arrived back home with a healthy glow and a very polished nose.
I hope you enjoyed my blog.