Skiing in Switzerland : No rush, let's have an apero.
Updated: Apr 26, 2018
Slovak vs. Swiss skiing experience.
I am not going to lie to you. The Swiss life is as good as they try to tell you in an advertisement for chocolates. If you ever had a dream to ski in the best slopes of The Alps and are wondering how that can feel, let me give you the most arrogant answer : it is so good that it is sometimes even boring for the locals and expats living in Switzerland.
We do this every weekend. Well, not really. We go to the best skiing resorts only if the weather forecast is immaculate. No wind, not too cold, not too hot and not during the school holidays as there is a risk that you would need to wait for a lift for more than 1 minute . Anyway, don’t expect that we are checking the weather forecast because we are planning to do some real sport here. It is just another skiing Saturday in Chamonix- Mt.Blanc.
Skiing here is nothing compared to what I am used to from Slovakia during my young age. We woke up very soon and had a big breakfast to keep us going until the lunch. We sprinted to the lifts because it was important to make our tickets worth it and spend as much time as possible on the slope.
Whoever had done the most runs was the king!
Waiting in a long queue was annoying and you would often get involved in a big fight with some idiot who would constantly try to overtake you. For the lunch you would have a quick snack and you would stop for a tea with Rum in a local ski buffet – Let’s face it, most of the time you wouldn’t even sit with your tea. You would keep going until the end of a day. Everybody was a good skier back then as the slopes were steep and a lot of time not groomed properly. You just learned how to handle.
We were doing off-piste without even realizing that we were the adrenaline junky cool kids.
You would inherit your skis from your cousins, neighbours or siblings and it was actually not even considered a valid objection if your ski boots were 2 sizes bigger or smaller. Après ski? Forget it. At 6PM you were already so tired that you just wanted to go to your hotel, eat and go to bed. For this reason, there weren’t any après ski facilities in Slovakia back then (I know that this changed massively in the last years). We would drink in our chalets or hotels. I loved our skiing holidays and I will never forget all the great experiences.
It is my sixth winter season now in Switzerland and I can’t believe how much its changed my perception of this sport. Now I see a text message : ‘let’s go skiing this weekend’ as an invitation to spend some social time in the Alps – drinking, eating, chatting with the occasional skiing. The pistes are long, well-groomed and agreeable and you can choose from the millions of options starting from relaxing blue to fun and challenging black runs.
Lifts are fast and comfy, I can confirm that you barely ever wait in a cue.
There is a lot of people who enjoy off-piste skiing and they look pretty rough with all their ropes and other equipment around their body so I am sure this article doesn’t apply to everyone. There is a lot of dedicated skiers but what I want to say is that an average Swiss skier will enjoy the skiing day differently than the majority of people living outside of this Alpine country. And it is dangerously contagious. Most of us expats adapted to this relaxed skiing approach very fast.
They ski for an hour and it is already time for some little snack and drinks called an apero. In two hours they will have a long lunch in one of the great restaurants on the pistes. Even though you will come there wearing your ski boots and helmet, they are proper restaurants.
Don’t be shocked when you will hear that some of them requires a reservation and a bottle of water can easily cost you 15 CHF.
This happened to me once in Verbier and from that time I avoid this glamorous place as a plague. The fact is that you can only understand that price as the restaurant is located in an altitude of 3000m and doesn't have a tap water. Lunch will include a glass of wine or champagne, dessert and for a lot of people also an appetizer! I am not kidding.
It is pretty common to have a live DJ in the outside bars on the pistes or occasionally even live concerts. After the meal, people will ski a little bit more and there is no shame to call it a day around 15.30 to 16.00. At the end of the day – you don’t want to overdo it right? There is something surprisingly beautiful about this snobbish approach to skiing. There is no pressure, no stress, it is considered as a day out in the fresh air. It's a time when you can fully appreciate the stunning views. The endorphins that you get from a little bit of sport are seen just like a nice side-effect. It is an obscene luxury, but no, no, no - don’t you think that the average locals would ever consider this luxurious. It is just the way how it is .