Fulfilling a Lifelong Dream: Skiing in Switzerland

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I haven’t mentioned this much on the blog, but I’m a die-hard ski bum. As in, my parents taught me to ski as a toddler, I raced GS and slalom in high school and I used to be on the hill five to six days a week. Not so bad for a Michigan girl, huh?

And ever since my first Warren Miller movie at the age of six I’ve dreamed of skiing the chalet-dotted mountains of Switzerland. IMG_0957

Which is why when my family friend Doerte invited me to her Swiss ski chalet in Gstaad for the weekend I spared no expense. Travel accounts be damned, I was going to finally ski Switzerland.

My family friend, Doerte, is someone I have admired my entire life- an elegant German woman who married an American and divides her life between the U.S., Italy and Switzerland. Have I mentioned she speaks five languages?

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Upon seeing her chalet in Gstaad for the first time I was already in love- a cozy mountain farmhouse situated next to the Swiss dairy farmer, with views of the Alps from every window.

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On my first morning Doerte prepared me a hearty pre-ski breakfast: earthy German black bread, a soft-boiled egg, wheat bread with French honey and butter and black coffee with cream.

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Breakfast is already one of my favorite things in the world- there’s truly nothing I love more than to waking up to toast. But nutty German black bread? I was a goner. But I guess with a surname like Fleckenstein it’s in my blood.

Once Doerte son outfitted me with complimentary ski gear (Danke!), we headed to the hill. While we rode the gondolas Doerte spoke German to everyone while I sat and cursed myself for not knowing a word of it.

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Doerte also taught me a neat trick- to carry snacks on the mountain. In my pockets I kept one ziploc of gruyère and one of chocolate, which helped us stay out longer as well as save money on lunch. Genius!

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But despite all the fun I was having, on my first day I was almost in tears. My boots were too big (racing boots are much tighter than recreational ski boots) and I felt so out of practice. It had been almost three years!

But I couldn’t be too upset as after a full day on the hill I got to relish one of my other favorite rituals- après-ski. Because is there anything better than sitting in a toasty living room after a cold day on the slopes, cheeks flushed with a glass of wine, chatting with friends? Well, no, in my opinion.

On my last day in Gstaad Doerte took me for a little spin around town. I loved seeing the little villages, where clothes hang between 18th century chalets. Many chalets had inscriptions on the façade, with the last name of the family, a prayer in German and a date of construction- I saw some that dated back to 1757!

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And between the beautiful blue skies, no-lines skiing and lovely company, I couldn’t have had a better time finally experiencing the Swiss Alps.

Are you a skier? Would you ever want to ski Switzerland?

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

13 thoughts on “Fulfilling a Lifelong Dream: Skiing in Switzerland”

  1. Oh this looks amazing! I am so jealous. I’m moving to France in a little less than a month and one of my goals is to go skiing in Switzerland. Sounds like you had so much fun!

  2. I’ve never skied, and I have to say it’s never really appealed to me – I think I know too many people who’ve broken limbs doing it! But from looking at these photos, I can’t imagine a more beautiful place to give it a go. Forget the skiing, I just want to frolick in the snow and look at those views all day! Glad you had an amazing time though. It’s always great to get back to doing something you used to devote so much time to.

  3. Fantastic post! And while I love Switzerland, I do prefer to “apres ski” instead of ski, and in turn devour the food/wine, wear cozy boots, and take in a roaring and great fireplace! There must be a sport in that as well, yes? Or a little? Great stuff. Fun to read of your doings. Cheers! – Leah

  4. I just wrote about how I wanted to go to Europe to ski again (only been to Chamonix), and this post makes me just want to go even more! And how lucky you are to stay and ski in Switzerland with a local…so much fun!

  5. Skiing in Switzerland would be amazing! I have been skiing since I could walk and grew up racing. I really want to ski in switzerland among other places sometime in the future! I miss skiing every day during the week, it was the best!

  6. I grew up skiing but gravitated toward snowboarding in high school. And, yes, I have always dreamed of snowboarding in the Swiss Alps. So I can definitely understand your excitement. What a dream come true! Also, I love the idea of packing a snack of gruyère and chocolate to eat on the slopes. Very genius :)

  7. Skiing in the Swiss Alps is just incredible. I did it while I studied abroad there in college and skiing anywhere else has never been the same! Glad you enjoyed it and got to tick something off of the bucket list!

  8. I hope being a snowboarder counts! I started out skiing when I was very young then switched to snowboarding in college. Never tried a mountain in Switzerland yet, but did get to Whistler for the first time early this year.

  9. I’ve never gone skiing before, but if there is one reason I would try it, it would be the chance to do it in the Swiss Alps! I mean, how could you possible say no to that? Just from those pictures, it looks like the entire experience would be incredible.

  10. I love to ski – not that I’m any good really but I’m happy just to run around the blues and stop off for lots of vin chaud stops! Love the scenery in the Alps, I was just in St Anton in Austria and it was so strange to see it all looking green and without a thick layer of snow.

  11. What an amazing experience! I snowboard and I’m not very good (you’re so lucky to have learned as a child!), but I would love to try the Swiss Alps! I’ve visited and thought the country is absolutely beautiful all around. Isn’t it the best to get to stay with locals and get spoiled with breakfast and complimentary clothes? Wonderful.

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