Tag Archives: swimming

Switzerland, Part 5: Swimming Holes and Alpine Thrills

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Time always seems to go so quickly when you’re traveling. It’s heightened living at its best, and fate seems to rush it while I do my best to try to slow things down. In this case, I wanted to draw out the feeling of the sun’s warmth on my face, the cold rush of the streams against my hot skin, and the refreshing sensation of breathing in the mountain air.

Still, it was our last full day in Switzerland, and the question loomed: What to do? There was one valley nearby that we had yet to explore, but that valley did not promise Alpine peaks, and so the Alps called and we heeded their invitation. We returned to the Val Bovona, the Basodino Glacier, and the cable car ride that both took our breath away and delivered us into the heart of that glacier.

First, however, lunch was in order, and with fantastic Italian food all around you, you do not substitute with a protein bar. We stopped again in Foroglio, the enchanting stone village, and the Ristorante la Froda, a farm-to-table dream in the middle of a fairy tale. The lentil dish was astoundingly good, and the white Merlot a perfect match.

We followed up the long leisurely lunch with a return visit to Foroglio’s waterfall. Watching water spill over the side of a mountain is nothing short of mesmerizing — maybe too mesmerizing, as we checked the time and suddenly needed to rush to make the cable car if we wanted enough time to explore up in the clouds before the last descent at 4:45. With some mad driving skills by my sweetie that can only be described as impressive, we flew, just making the cable car. The Alpine thrills would be ours today after all.

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Today we decided to go a different route, and began climbing up. It can’t be that far up, can it? So we climbed and climbed, up, up, up. We are almost there, we have to be almost there, but where is there? “There” is the magnificent view that surely awaited us at the top. “So how long do you think we have been climbing UP?” my love asked. “Oh, about 45 minutes,” I said. “Try an hour and 45,” he replied. We had to turn around and go back. In a battle between me and Mother Nature, I am keenly aware she will always win, and stranded on an Alpine glacier for the evening is not my idea of fun.

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I took a moment to take it all in and was reminded of a favorite childhood book, “Heidi,” and for a moment, I knew the happiness that that character felt living on the mountain. Simply majestic. Moments in time to be deeply absorbed before reality whisks you away to your real life, that, while treasured, is not here. “Enjoy,” whispered the universe, and so I did.

It was a warm day, and we were more than a little … err … sticky. The river was looking very inviting, gushing over the boulders, creating those magical swimming pools that were begging us to visit, almost pleading — and who were we to argue? It was the highlight of our day, jumping all hot and sweaty into that swimming pool at the bottom of a valley teeming with waterfalls. Can someone please pinch me? This cannot be real. Immersed and looking up at the water spilling down the ragged, jagged crevices of this mountain valley. Sigh. Heaven.

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How to top off a last night and a perfect day? Ask a local for a dinner recommendation! DaVino restaurant on the lake in Locarno it was, and with homemade ravioli stuffed with spinach, veal and beef, we were anything but disappointed.

Planning our next adventure is tempting, but no, not tonight. Tonight is for savoring where we are and not letting this adventure end too soon.

Switzerland, Part 3: In the Magic Kingdom (Or, did my heart just stop beating, can someone please pinch me?)

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Today was about Jack Johnson and the Valle Verzasca. I’m not sure which enchanted me more, but to my husband, who is reading this, the answer is you, for planning such a stellar trip: Hats off and a big heaping of gratitude! It’s true; this one was planned entirely by my beloved, and I was so impressed.

swissafter15Somehow, with all the adventure around us, we still managed to relax, take leisurely breakfasts while sipping fantastic coffee, and breathing in the moment. We did many laps in the pool and even fit in some reading … but, um, there is that valley I read about and that adorable looking town, so, yeah, let’s go!

The Valle Verzasca (which I still can’t pronounce properly) is, simply put, a slice of heaven. The road twists and turns, following the river, which pulses with water that’s brilliant turquoise and so clean that it makes you wonder if maybe the Evian folks sneak in and steal it. It spills over boulders the size of small houses, creating swimming holes and waterfalls.

The stone villages appear, and you wonder, “Where am I? And why did I not know this place existed?” Before too long, we came upon the town of Lavertezzo, which I’d found on a Google search of “most beautiful villages near Locarno.” As far as I was concerned, it could be on any list of most beautiful villages around the world.

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Almost too cute for words, the village was layered atop a hill, giving the impression that there’s no separation between the town and the river, with copious boulders and waterfalls. Some of these boulders were giant, literally the size of a house, and made for the most beautiful little beach areas right in the river and lovely (albeit cold) swimming holes. But the air was hot, and the place too other worldly not to jump into that water — so I did, again and again. Jumping in, swimming to another rock, walking upstream on said rock, jumping back in and letting the current carry me, then doing it again. What folly!

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Looking at the time, we realized we didn’t want to be late for Jack Johnson, and so this little party needed to wrap up so we could go to the next festivity.

swissafter16During July in Locarno, they turn the the Piazza Grande, or town square, into a concert venue, and what a lovely venue it makes. We decided to grab dinner right on the piazza and keep it simple: pizza and the local white merlot. I would normally go red with the pizza, but at 86 degrees, white won out.

The Swiss in this region definitely got their food influence from the Italians, and the pizza was fantastic. I recall capers and mushrooms and other yummy things, with a crust light and perfect,

swissafter12Now it was time for the concert, and since we were already there and happened to get in line early, we were front row. Literally. I have long appreciated Jack’s happy-go-lucky, sweet, soulful tunes, and seeing him live was a treat. Zack Gill — Jack’s piano, accordion and other instrument player — almost stole the show, playing with the audience and rockin’ out some sweet tunes. I kept turning around to be sure to take in my surroundings and just soak it all in as the music washed over us.

The show is over and it’s late: Time for these two jet-lagged travelers to get to sleep, floating on a cloud of music, sweet music!

To be continued…