Spending Xmas abroad as a backpacker is always an odd experience, especially if you’re in a strange country surrounded by heaps of new people. I fact during my first Xmas away when I was in Australia I decided to term backpackers abroad during the festive period as “the Xmas orphans” which I think nicely sums up the experience!
This year though I was kindly invited to spend Xmas with the girls family – so I flew from the heat of Morocco (which being a Muslim country was completely void of Xmas decorations and what not) to the cold and snowy Xmas wonderland of Switzerland!
Pre Xmas Festivities
Although the sun and surf of the last few weeks was heaps welcome I was stoked to be spending Xmas somewhere cold and with lots if Xmas cheer! In fact from the the moment I boarded my flight with Eidelweiss Air Xmas music was playing and we even got given Xmas cookies with our meal! Happy days indeed!
And after a few G&Ts I was very much in a festive mood!
The couple of days before Xmas were spent bouncing around Switzerland catching up with the girls family and friends with amazing meals, good company and far too much wine!
It was very much a traditional style Xmas cheer with signing around a piano, real Xmas trees with candles in them rather than fairy lights! We even drank mulled wine outside in the cold whilst listening to a choir – it was amazing!
Although not entirely xmassy we also managed to spend a day in a waterpark (the Alpamare in Freienbach which I highly recommend) – part of which was two outdoor open air pools heated to 36 degrees…and with an air temperature of just over freezing it created a steamy haze to enjoy! And for the brave there was also a non heated pool to jump into – which was bloody freezing!
Xmas – Swiss Style!
On the 24th we headed to the girls dads place, an apartment in Flims, slap on the side of the Swiss alps, what better place to spend it?!
The 24th is usually Xmas eve for me being British, however in Switzerland the evening of the 24th is their Xmas – so presents were exchanged, far too much wine and schnapps consumed and ALOT of Swiss chocolate munched down…all around an open log fire!
Instead if the epic roast dinner I’m used too we sat down to a meal of spatzle – where a hot broth boils over a mini burner and you cook a selection if meats in it before dipping them in sauces, it’s like a meat fondue!
The Swiss really like their social and interactive meals and although it’s not something I’m too used too its a great experience!
A White Xmas…FINALLY!
The Swiss don’t bother with a Boxing Day (which is a massive shame as its one of my highlights of an English Xmas!) so the 25th was merely another random day. However it was my Xmas so I was stoked and up early to open the bag of gifts my family had been epic enough to post over for me!
Hyperactive yet slightly hungover (standard Xmas state really) I was up early and ready to go play in the snow!
But not slushy rubbish British snow n the drizzle – it was a bright sunny day and I was busy kitting up for a day of snowboarding on the piste!
The girls dad had bought me a day ski pass for Xmas and having scored some amazing bargains on Swiss eBay (I bought a near mint condition snowboard for 67p and manage to get some boots and googles for about £30!) I was looking to part and ready to hit the slopes!
The guys at AER Snowboard & Ski School in Zermatt had obviously done a good job at introducing me to the sport because I actually did pretty alright, not bailing much and tackling a variety of runs, with Katja running circles around me on her skis!
We even joined her dad and sister on one of the higher slopes and I dubiously made my way down from 2500m above sea level, trying to look like I knew what I was doing!
It being Xmas and all I made sure I enjoyed more than a couple beers throughout the day and annoyed the hell out of my family via Skype, showing off the views end keeping them updated whilst on the ski lifts!
After a successful day with all my bones still intact (something I was incredibly nervous about!) we headed back for more wine and good food – a raclett, which is basically a mini table grill with heaps and heaps of melted cheese…another prime example of Swiss social eating!
My Boxing Day was much the same as Xmas, spent on the piste this time with a good sprinkling of snow for good measure – spending time in the mountains with the gorgeous views is the perfect way to spend not just Xmas but any day, it’s amazing and the Swiss Alps should be on everyone’s bucket list!
But all good things must come to an end and before I knew it it was time to head back to the city of Zurich, but not before another evening with the girls cousins and extended family, where Mario kart marathons, more singing and even more wine and chocolate were the order of the day!
And as a final treat me, Katja and a heap of her friends headed to the circus in Zurich (of the non animal kind) to enjoy a rather drunken few hours of crazy contortionists, jugglers and all manner of awesomeness!
This last week flew by, and although it wasn’t the English Xmas I’m used too and I wasn’t surrounded by my family it was an amazing way to spend the festive period and I’m super grateful to all of Katjas friends and family for inviting me and making me feel so welcome! It certainly was an unexpected way to be spending a backpacking Xmas abroad!
And now I’m sat on my final flight of the year (flight number 13 if I remember correctly!) heading back to the heat and chaos of Morocco where I’ll be spending new year with the Surf Berbere crew and all our guests ringing in 2013 with beers, BBQs and surf!
Lets see what 2013 has in store…