Christmas break was a three part operation this year. It was a wonderful, beautiful, peace-filled time and celebrated just with the six (can't forget Ollie) of us. The kids had two weeks but asked that we be at home for Christmas Day, thus creating a lot of here and there. This documents parts one and two.
Switzerland was our first stop. La Tzoumaz is in the "Quatre Vallees" ski area, Verbier being the best known spot. We stayed in Jorrit's aunts place that is conveniently located across the street from the gondola. Expectations were low going into this trip because there was reportedly no snow anywhere in Europe. We went prepared to play a lot of games, swim and take hikes. (The last time we were here we had similar conditions and I just remember skiing on hay and falling on a very icy "piste.") We were pleasantly surprised and met with daily snow fall, sometimes all day, and one day of blue sky skiing. It was a winter wonderland and made for a very festive feeling.
In addition to La Tzoumaz, we were able to make a quick stop both going and coming in Strasbourg, France. We also did "home to home" ski days with our new friends, The Chapmans. They found a dream-like chalet in the woods in a town called Vex, about a half-hour drive from La Tzoumaz. We skied/snowshoed/dined on their turf one day and they came our way the next. The best part about these places is how remote they feel. You drive up these incredibly winding, snow covered roads and just as you are convinced you have made a wrong turn, a charming mountain village tucked into the mountainside appears. It is romantic and dreamlike, especially as the snow is coming down with no end in sight. The only thing missing were the Saint Bernards and their brandy.
Oliver awaits departure
A stop for lunch and the amazing Strasbourg, a city not to be missed
Strasbourg's Christmas Market
Almost all storefront buildings were elaborately decorated
For the window dressing fans out there and elephant-loving Ella
We made it to La Tzoumaz late Saturday night, unloaded the car and realized we were almost the only people in the village. Good for us! Finding dinner was harder than we thought but we lucked out and found fondue for five. A most appropriate welcome to Switzerland.
Measuring the snow
First day out
Bear in the snow -- where's his brandy?
Carmela and I in the sunshine
Never to be forgotten or left behind
Into Verbier on the gondola
Top of the world
Les châteaux de Verbier
Nico in the lodge
On our ski exchange day with Sea-Lux friends. I went snowshoeing and on our big walk we came
upon this old chapel.
We were back at home in the nick of time, with just enough energy left somehow to collect all the US delivered packages from Jorrit's office, wrap the gifts, sneak them inside, take inventory, go to the grocery store, do laundry and finally, prepare our traditional Christmas Eve fish dinner. After a delicious meal of clams and linguini, trout with brown buttered almonds and green beans we somehow managed to find room for the Bûche de Noël. Better still, we made it to midnight Mass at the cathedral, said in four languages by candlelight -- quite beautiful and serene.
The Christmas table adorned with mimosa
Lastly, I can't forget our kid-requested Christmas dinner,
duck confit with risotto
duck confit with risotto