01 February 2009

Balloon festival in Château d'Oex

Last weekend we were delighted to have Troels visiting us; luckily he's always eager to visit us no matter where we decide to live, and since he's also a skiing enthusiast the mountains around Geneva attracted him quite a bit too. By coincidence we had seen a poster advertising a hot air balloon festival starting the exact weekend he was here, so it was the perfect opportunity for going into the mountains at the other end of Lake Geneva.

Shortly after beginning our ascent into the Alps by way of train from Montreux we were surprised to see just how much snow there was. Although it had been snowing in Geneva Saturday none of us suspected that a mere few hundred yards off of the level of the lake there would be trees covered in snow.

After arriving in Château d'Oex we were delighted to see how beautifully the little mountain village was located in the middle of all the snow, between the mountains and in bright sunshine.

But we didn't go there to admire the landscape itself. It was hot air balloons it was supposed to be about! We spotted the first couple already from the train on the way up, but when we were standing on the hill with the church we had a nice view of the entire valley as more and more balloons in all sorts of colours and patterns were starting to hover over it. In fact, it was a fairly surreal sight!

Aside from balloons in the classical shape the programme also had time reserved for "Balloons in alternative shapes" during which bag pipe players, turtles, and roosters (amongst other things) were launched.

After having stood still - fortunately in lovely sunshine; otherwise it would undoubtedly have been a very chilling experience - watching balloons taking off we took the aerial tramway higher into the mountains surrounding Château d'Oex. We had read that there should be a 2.5 km (1.5 miles) long luge track which we were eager to try, so we continued up the mountain by ski lift. At the top we rented three luges and down we went. It felt a little odd walking along with a luge after 20 years of not using such, but at the same time it did feel strangely familiar. The trip down felt quite long, was at places surprisingly steep and with lots of turns, but we thought it was dead funny - all three of us are definitely up for another run some other time.

Before taking the train back to Geneva, we ended the outing by eating cheese fondue. The Swiss version consists only of bread for dipping in the cheese mixture in the pot, so even though it was a nice way to end a cold and very Swiss day, Lisbeth isn't so sure she'll ever really feel like eating it again later. The dessert on the other hand - Meringues à la crème de chalet - was much more to her liking; although the double cream could also quickly become a tad too much...


Drew said...

Tue, and snow sports??!! Glad to see Swiss-ness is rubbing off on him!

Lisbeth said...

I also plan on taking him snowshoeing before we leave.. which - if successful - might lead to cross country skiing and who knows before long he might be racing down the slopes like a pro scandinavian skier?!