In Italy…

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In Italy...

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Ski Weekend

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Ski Weekend

With spring (slowly) approaching, I made my last adventure to the slopes this past weekend. And with so much style. The exchange program through my school organized a ski weekend that was crazy cheap! It included: two lessons, two days of skiing, two nights accommodation, two dinners, two breakfasts and transportation. We stayed right at the base of the ski resort so in the morning it was just a five-minute waddle in our ski boots to get to the lift. While the conditions were poor and the snow was unimpressive, it was still a great weekend. The highlight for me was getting to do the Swiss version of night skiing. Unlike American ski resorts, none of the ones here have lights on them meaning them close around 4:30. What my group had the opportunity to do was ski with flaming torches! We skied down without poles with the slope only being lit by the people with torches.

The second day was the longest I had ever skied in one day but that didn’t stop me from après-ski-ing at a Mexican bar in the village. The last day had the best weather, with great visibility which led to a faint goggles tan. At the end of the weekend, I was incredibly exhausted at the action-packed weekend. With my ski season in Switzerland coming to a close, I feel thrilled to say that I’ve done a third of my skiing in the Swiss Alps and that I definitely improved my skiing abilities. I will miss the mountains but I’m excited for the warmer adventures I have planned in the near future!

Fasnacht: Swiss Gone Wild

Simply put, Fasnacht is the craziest time in Switzerland. Trying to explain it or draw comparisons is rather difficult. Imagine…a musical festival, a street party, Mardi Gras, Carnival, Halloween, marching bands, no smoking or open container laws, bar hopping, pub crawls, dance tents…all these combined is sort of what Fasnacht is. And this all takes place with people who are typically orderly and quiet during Swiss winter temperatures.

I was pretty much completely unaware of all this upon my arrival in Brig, Valais. I didn’t know that costumes were vital for Fasnacht, so I had to borrow something. (I also didn’t bring a costume in my limited suitcase space.) My train gave me a top hat and a man’s fancy dress coat so I looked like a cross between Charlie Chaplin and a butler. An important thing to note about Fasnacht costumes is that you do not wear a coat over you costume. You just layer up and suck it up.

We started the night by just walking through the entire festival seeing the different bars, booths, tents, bands, costumes, insanity. For the first part of the night, we stayed in a bar listening to a rock cover band all dressed like cops. During the second round of beers, a guy in my group points out that some female “hippies” are looking at me. I think I am being confused for a man but my group thinks that I’m being hit on. We were both wrong because they approached me thinking I was their friend. This was my first instance of the weekend where I was completely “dumbfounded” when someone approached me and spoke Swiss German.

Around midnight, we moved to main open space to see this one band play. Shivering and clutching yet another cup of beer, I was able to ogle all the interesting and creative costumes. Next we moved to a bar in a tent where that had music blasting. As I learned throughout the night, it is hard to move and specifically dance when wearing four layers of clothes.

The rest of the night was dedicated to dancing in a haze as we went from an underground dance club full of colored lights and pulsating music. It was more of a generic dance club without that Fasnacht specific feeling so we didn’t stay there long. Next stop was to a dance hole called “Glory Hole.” It was literally just one small room of a basement but with a live dj, a bar for drinks and a bar for shots. Apparently with Fasnacht there’s not much emphasis on rules, because people were smoking whatever they wanted in that little basement. With the party still bumpin’, we decided to leave at which point I realized it was after five. I still don’t know how we spent those four hours in two dance clubs but apparently it happened. We got back to my friend’s house at 6:00 in the morning where we drank some water, ate some pizza and decided it was probably best to just go to sleep.

I woke up the next morning (eh “afternoon” I suppose) still in half my costume and was greeted by the Swiss sun exposing the gorgeous mountainous landscape. Quite a lovely intermission between the nighttime festivities of Fasnacht.