One of my favorite memories from my exchange was the time when my friends and I rented a car and took a road trip to central Switzerland at the end of November. There were five of us total: three girls from the Netherlands, a fellow American, and myself. The drive to Andermatt from Zurich is only an hour and a half one-way so we decided to make a stop in between to check out the country’s “capital” city, Bern. The car ride consisted of music, various snacks, and beautiful scenery. Bern’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with cobblestone roads, medieval architecture, and delicious chocolate shops. We quickly discovered that the Toblerone chocolate bar originated from here back in 1908. We enjoyed a cappuccino, checked out a local farmer’s market, and then made our way across one of the city’s many bridges and up a hill to Bärengraben Park. I took in the views and indulged in my packed sandwich. Then, it was on to the next stop. After a few troubles on the road, we made it to our chalet rental in Andermatt just in time for us to cook dinner. We were greeted with a spread of different Swiss chocolates and a warm fire. We played cards and as the night went on, we got more and more excited for the upcoming day. This would be the first time any of us skied this season and my first time ever skiing in The Alps!
We woke up early and headed to the gondola and rental shop. Despite it being pretty early in the ski season, there still were plenty of lifts open and runs or “pistes” with enough snow for a day on the slopes. Thanks to my Dutch friends, I quickly learned how the piste ratings are delineated and different from the United States: blue is easy, red is intermediate, black is expert, and orange or yellow are extremely difficult and mostly off-piste. It had been at least two years since I last skied, so we all took the beginning of the day pretty easy. Lunch on the mountain called for traditional rösti, schnitzel, and french fries. Given the jagged landscape of The Alps, there are rarely any trees in the area you are skiing in. This allows for a completely unobstructed view of the mountain range. Gemsstock peak sits at 9,715 feet and the view from the top was absolutely incredible. We enjoyed a hot chocolate and watched the sun start to go down before our final run. From there, it was a short drive back to Zürich and on to planning our next mountain adventure!