One of the partners in P’s office generously invited us to spend a weekend with him at his home in the Alps, and we jumped at the opportunity.  After P finished up work on Friday afternoon, we hopped on the train with some office friends and headed out of town.

Our destination was Saas-Fee, a beautiful little town in a valley nestled between some seriously impressive mountains.  It is only 3 1/2 hours from Zürich, but in some ways, it felt worlds away.  Immediately upon our arrival, we were amazed by the natural beauty that surrounded us.  High above Saas-Fee stands the Dom, a 4545 meter peak, the third highest in the Alps and the second highest in Switzerland.  The Dom, and several other nearby mountains standing at over 3900 meters, are capped with glaciers that provide beautiful waterfalls and lakes in the summertime.  With year-round snow, the glaciers also offer the opportunity for summer skiing and many countries’ ski teams practice there during the warmer months.

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The view from our host’s balcony when we arrived

In addition to the natural beauty of Saas-Fee, the town itself is also a beautiful place to experience.  The town is closed to automobiles, with the exception of a few very small, electric-powered vehicles owned by local businesses.  With quintessentially-alpine architecture and no cars, Saas-Fee is a quiet, enchanting, perfectly pedestrian-friendly place to explore on foot.

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Saas-Fee street
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A view from our first day of hiking

On our first morning, our host led us on a morning hike through the mountains west of town.  We started with a gondola ride up into the clouds, and the mountain landscape immediately engendered an inner silence and serenity that I’m not sure I had ever quite experienced before.  The mountains also reminded me of how vast and powerful the wilderness can be, which was both peaceful and a little scary.  At the beginning of our hike, we passed by a herd of sheep grazing on grass and wildflowers growing on the side of the mountain.  The bells around their necks provided a calming soundtrack to the start of our journey.

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Sheep grazing on the mountain

As we hiked, the clouds began to burn off and the vista constantly changed with the sunlight.  The fresh mountain air felt great in our lungs, and we later discovered that the walking, while it felt relatively easy at the time, gave us some good exercise.  We walked along the mountainside, across rivers, along a ridge overlooking a glacial lake, and through a beautiful pine forest before returning to town.  Our hike was quite a stunning introduction to the Alps!

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Our path, with the sheep following us
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Goat with a bell

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In the evening, our gracious host invited us to an exquisite dinner at the Michellin-starred Fletschhorn Restaurant.  The restaurant is a little outside of the main part of town, so our journey there took us through a beautiful forest and past some yaks before the road opened up to the hotel and restaurant’s terrace offering beautiful views of the nearby mountains.  Our dinner was exquisite and the service was spectacular.  It is a meal we will not soon forget!

 

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Yaks on our way to dinner
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View from the Fletschhorn Terrace

On our second morning, we explored the mountains to the west of town and hiked up to Plattjen, a 2570 meter peak.  Like the previous day’s hike, our journey provided some beautiful views of the mountains and the town below.  After we had been trekking uphill for quite some time, we stopped at the Berghaus Restaurant to rest our legs and fill up on some delicious Swiss food.  It was a surprisingly great little place with good food, beautiful decor, and wonderful views.  As we approached Plattjen, we became increasingly out of breath with the change in altitude.  At the top, it was pretty chilly and we took in the beautiful vista before taking the easy way back down on a gondola.

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Wildflower on the way up to Plattjen
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View on the way up to Plattjen

It was a great weekend full of stunning natural beauty, wonderful company, and delicious food!

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