Our friends Shane and Si have this strange way of inviting us to things. Here is an example. It starts with Shane stopping by my desk at work. “Si and I are going to this awesome masked ball in Vienna in February. She’s getting this amazing (insert designer name) dress and found a stunning mask. I can’t decide if I’m going to wear my tux or find a new one. I think I want matte epaulettes. I’ll go shopping while I’m back in DC. Anyway, it’s going to be great.” I would say, “That sounds like fun, Shane.” He’d reply with a list of all the folks going along and I’d wish them well, nodding “hope you all have a great time!” Shane would leave, probably thinking that I was totally anti-social. Later, I would talk to Si and she’d ask why we were not going to this awesome ball. “um… I don’t know. I didn’t want to crash.” Then Si would explain that Shane had invited us. The problem is, that with the exception of his extensive, almost scary fashion vocabulary, Shane speaks Guy. Specifically, he speaks the dialect of U.S. Marine. This is foreign to me but I’m learning. So, when Shane said, “We’re going to Sion next weekend with Ashley and Brandon.” I quickly and happily replied, “We’re in! When are we leaving?” without actually being invited. I hope they didn’t mind because we LOVED it!
This was our second venture into Switzerland but the first during the summer. We had gone for Christmas the year before. We knew it was beautiful but you never really understand just how green and vibrant the Swiss countryside is until you see it for yourself.
Shane and Si had taken care of booking apartments for the group. We trust their judgement but didn’t know what to expect.
We arrived to Sion in the rain and like most European towns, the rain just added to the charm. Then we saw the apartment. From the outside it looked like the tower of a castle. I felt a little like Repunzel looking out at at the fantastic view.
From the inside, it looked like a hobbit penthouse. I mean that in only the most flattering way possible. This was clearly an attic space converted into an apartment. There was a small kitchen area with an old wood beams doubling as support and shelves. Another beam doubled as a counter. It was so cute that it just didn’t seem real. The super uncomfortable bed reminded us that it was indeed real. Still, I would have stolen that whole apartment and moved it to Wiesbaden if I could have. Just look at this amazing old lock on the bathroom door. It didn’t actually function as a lock but it was beautiful!
The next day it was time for hiking. At breakfast, we met up with everyone including Shane’s friend Manu and his girlfriend. I learned there would also be climbing. Climbing? Like on a mountain? Count me out!
The hike was simply amazing. The sun was shining again. The air was crisp and probably the cleanest, freshest air I’ve ever breathed. We had breathtaking views of the Alps and a lake.
We also had great company and good conversation… and ice cream.
Then it was time to climb. Ryan was excited to finally climb outdoors. I was ready to sit this one out. Everyone else in the group had climbed before. Shane’s friend Manu, who grew up in Sion and made climbing look as easy as walking is for the rest of us. He and his girlfriend were like mountain goats. Even Shane and Si’s five year-old son was climbing in his cute little climbing shoes and tiny harness.
I nervously watched Ryan climb. He just kept going. I knew that Shane was experienced and he had taught many others how to climb and I knew that Ryan was strong and careful and he would be safe but I was still so nervous. He just kept going higher…
I continued to watch patiently while everyone climbed up the rock face and repelled back down with scratched knees, shins and elbows, chalk hand-prints smeared on their clothes and huge smiles.
I was starting to think I should try this. How many times in my life will I be in the Swiss Alps with a group so experienced at climbing and so willing to help? I thought I should at least try just to check the box since I may never have the opportunity again. I had no idea what I was doing.
I think not knowing what to do scared me more than the height. I wasn’t all that high and I knew Shane would catch me on belay if I fell. It turns out that not knowing what to do leads to climbing slow and climbing slowly leads to tiring your body out too quickly – lesson learned. It also turns out that I loved it!
After our long day in the outdoors, we met up with everyone for a great dinner then a long walk around the town before heading back to our hobbit penthouse. We got a good night’s sleep and some early morning exploring of the lovely streets of Sion. Then we met up with everyone for breakfast and the caravan back home to Germany.
Au revoir, Switzerland! à toute à l’heure