During this past week we took a break from our jobs and visited canton Wallis. We rented a 3-bedroom chalet in the small village of Ulrichen (Population 219 as of 2007). Hannah, Lutz and Annie stayed with us. Mia also came along.

My basic German knowledge was put to work hard because Lutz only speaks German. It was good practice but sometimes it was tiring because it required a very attentive ear.

We visited the Aletsch glacier which is about an hour away by train and then funicular. The glacier is at 2892 m high (9488 ft) and is very impressive. I got altitude headaches.

The village of Ulrichen (1354 m, 4442 ft) has a small cluster of houses originally built in the 1700’s. Of course they have been renovated but their outside structures have been preserved and respected. Many granaries spot the landscape in the nearby mountains. To prevent mice and other rodents from eating the grains in the granaries, they cleverly built them on stones. You could see this in the photos.

It is a small village in a valley were winter sports are the main financial source of income. After three classes, I got the hang of classic skiing – what they call langlauf (cross country). It was a wonderful experience. We skied everyday for at least two and a half hours. On Friday, Petra and I did a 16 km ski run from Ulrichen to Niederwald which was beautiful and breathtaking.

I finally discovered and learned a new sport activity that I can do during the winter months, something I had missed since my days in NYC. In fact, during this trip something magnificent happened. I made friends with the snow! I have always enjoyed watching snow fall but never quite interacted with it. It used to be a purely voyeuristic experience. Now, after learning and loving skiing, this is forever changed. It’s a good feeling. Now I cannot wait for that wonderful experience which is finding the perfect rhythm while gliding through the snow. It is meditational. While you’re doing it, you think of nothing else. Pure presence and focus on the moment.

Enjoy the photos and check out the interactive map to see where we were.

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  1. Ruben, thank you for sharing. It is an amazing experience with very detailed description. We miss you here….bc

  2. Du bist ein Glückspilz (traducido literalmente: You’re a lucky mushroom, o sea un hombre afortunado), Tus fotos son espectaculares, los paisajes invernales “fotogénicos”. Me alegra y me llena de orgullo que hayas disfrutado de tu estadía en mi tierra, No sabes cómo me hubiera gustado estar con ustedes. Os he envidiado de veras. Béatrice

  3. That is the beautiful side of life! How breathtaking!

  4. Hi Ruben. Your blog is wonderfu! I’m not able to find the photos, however. I have a newborn respect for x=country skiiing and would like to try it sometime. Regards from your former student, Laura Fogel

  5. Beautiful place! Looks relaxing.

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