Sunday, September 7 – Sunday lunch and Trottie!

Warm, sometimes sunny, sometimes overcast

We added it up and we have spent over 15 weeks in Switzerland since our first visit in 1988 (and our second visit wasn’t until 1996). On this trip we decided to spend two weeks in Gstaad, even though we didn’t know the area, because it was just easier to book it that way (I was so busy with work this spring, that I had to take the easy way out for booking much of this trip). Originally we thought one week in Gstaad and one week in Pontresina, but I could not find a vacation rental that I liked the look of in Pontresina (except for one which was booked, but we will try it next time), so we booked two weeks here.

Even picking a vacation rental in Gstaad was time consuming this year. I was using the vacation rental data base on the Gstaad tourism web site www.gstaad.ch and had made a short list. I emailed one of the owners with a few questions, got an answer to one question but not the other, emailed him back, never heard from him again. I was about to try with the others on my short list, when the Gstaad Tourism database went down, and did not get back up for several months. I reported the problem and they said it was working for them, but I did not get it to work again until I check a few weeks before we left (and it was working again). They said it must be some problem in the US (nice try).

Earlier, they had faxed me a list of agencies, so, I contacted them. One agency sent me a listing that was the same one I got from a US agency (Villas International, I think) which was supposed to be a good quality place but was twice the price I expected. I have rented a lot in Switzerland and know how things are priced, plus I had seen prices for Gstaad rentals on the tourist office database. When Villas International sent me the listing (after waiting two weeks from my original inquiry), I figured it was so expensive because they had added on a huge commission. But the price from the local agency was not that different. However the local agency sent (by email) much better pictures and I was able to see that the view from the balcony was of public tennis courts (with mountains beyond). I didn’t want to look out onto tennis courts, so we booked with another local agency and got the apartment we are in.

We located that expensive apartment and it not only looks right onto the public tennis courts, but also to the big skateboarding area used by the local kids, and the train tracks run right behind the apartment. The location is just a block from the main promenade in Gstaad – but who wants to look out on tennis courts and a concrete skateboarding park for that price? It was about $1500/week! Our place is just over $500/week.

So that is how we ended up in Gstaad for two weeks – laziness and the inability to decide. On several trips we have spent two weeks in one location (usually on our longer trips). The only time I ever regretted spending two weeks instead of one, was in Sorrento, because our apartment was not that nice and we did not love the area as much as we thought we would. Two weeks lets you really settle into a place. You don’t feel like you have to be out and about every day hiking or touring. Especially in Switzerland where you can get bad weather and miss hiking days – it is nice to have the extra time. We will have been here one week tomorrow and instead of packing up, we are planning a day trip to Montreaux.

Today was sunny in the morning, but then overcast on and off throughout the day. We thought we would have an easy day and not put on hiking boots and packs, but just put on walking shoes and head out. We left around noon and walked to the Eggli gondola just outside Gstaad (35 min walk). Rode the gondola up and had a Sunday lunch sitting on the sun terrace of the restaurant there. Steve had fresh trout, I had an omelette. There were lots of people having lunch. We sat at a picnic-style table and looked out to the Gsteig valley with the huge mountains beyond. Beautiful! 65.70 CHF for two (water, salad, omelette, fish, coffee) – about $45.

After a leisurely lunch, we were either going to just gondola it back but we decided to try the Trotti scooters. We have seen these all over Switzerland, but never tried them. You rent them at a top gondola station and ride them down the mountain, usually on paved roads. It cost 15 CHF to rent them. It was all very casual; you handed over the money, he handed you a helmet and pointed at the scooters, then at the sign you had to follow. Trottis are just big scooters – no seat, handlebars with breaks, a place to put both your feet as your roar downhill.

Steve took to it right away and was off down the gravel hill. It took me awhile to feel comfortable, so I rode the brakes and got off frequently. But when we reached the paved road after about 10 minutes it was great. We whizzed down the hill on a long winding paved road. At the bottom we had to scoot along a flat area to get back to the gondola where you turn in the bikes. I wanted to go to the Wispile gondola (nearby) and ride the Trotti down from there, but it was getting too late in the afternoon. The gondolas all stop running at 5pm – it was 3:30 – not enough time to get up and ride back down. Plus, I was feeling the ride! I figured these Trotties were a waste of time because you get no exercise, but I think you do get some and, boy, are they fun!! What is next, parasailing?? (Steve says “no way” – because I am terrified of heights and he thinks I will back out at the last minute. I figure I could do it.)

After returning the Trotties, we walked into Gstaad, had coffee and cake (yes, again!! – 15.50 CHF for coffee and cake for two) then walked home. Nice dinner at home and I am doing laundry. What a great weekend. Plus I started the latest Ian Rankin mystery – must go read it now!!

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Pauline Kenny

Pauline Kenny and Steve Cohen are US expats living in Dorset. We moved to the UK in 2010. Read about our move. If you would like to talk about travel, please join us on the Slow Europe Travel Forums.