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One of the things I love about basing myself in Amsterdam, is that it is the same number of hours to drive to Switzerland as the drive from San Diego to San Francisco! Actually – LESS than that if you drive via German autobahns! But if you add a stop in the Alsace to pick up a case of bubbly Cremant and some Pinot Gris – well… then it’s the same! :)

Other than the fact that Switzerland is insanely expensive (actually saw a plate of lasagna on a menu for the equivalent of $30US!), then you would love it! In the summer time there are lakes to swim in… woods to walk in… mountains to hike…

In the winter… there are trees crackling under the weight of the snow… and the sound of absolute quiet since the world is wrapped in cotton-wool and holding its breath in the cold.

I don’t ski – which puts a bit of a damper on most ski vacations. And it’s not that I haven’t tried! Seriously! Classes and everything! But for some reason I seem to end up going downhill on my behind and not my skis. Blah blah blah – center of gravity… haha … very funny.

What I like about going with the family to Wengen – is that there is lots to do there BESIDES skiing!

Walking – in woods and on roads… and this time around there was so much fresh snow that even on scraped roads it was almost a couple feet worth to slog through! Watching the flakes that are the size of feathers falling – from the hotel window or as we wander through the town and the woods… Train rides up the mountain to see the cold blue glint of ice on the glaciers…

And of course… sitting in the hotel bar drinking a glass of yumminess, reading a good book… and writing.

Finished my novel :)

Couldn’t help myself  – found myself in amazingly inspiring surroundings!

Where the novel-writing magic happened :)

Winter Wonderland is cliche – but that’s what it is. This small town has so much charm and character. I can see myself coming here for two weeks every winter – and sometimes even in the summer! Although there’s another Swiss place reserved in my heart for annual summer pilgrimages! – Wengen is a place where you can wonder and wander. Where even someone like me can allow themselves to let go and make snow angels in the thick fluffy puffy snow. Where you can enjoy hot goulash soup and a nice tangy beer. Where you can sit on a bench for hours and watch the top of the world. Where you and your dad can throw snowballs against the windows of the dining rooms of kitschy hotels where badly coiffed duennas are leisurely eating schnitzel and then run away while peels of laughter shake snow loose from the trees and onto your head.

I love it in Wengen.

It’s magical.

This is the second Christmas that we’ve spent in Wengen. It’s becoming tradition. And maybe that is part of what I like… going to a place where everybody knows your name.. where you know what is waiting around the corner and yet are STILL surprised and struck breathless by the beauty,… where it feels quiet and safe and calm.. and the world and its worries and questions seem like they have been left at the bottom of the mountain along with your car. (No cars are allowed in Wengen – except for hotels, etc. so you have to take  cog-wheel railway to the town from a little place called Lauterbrennen. So cool.)

Maybe it’s that wherever you go in this town people smile and greet you with not only eye contact but a kind word. Maybe it’s that we could go to the Christmas Concert at the English Church and feel like we recognize faces and laugh at the same antics and panic that we laughed at last year. Maybe it’s that we could stand there and sing ‘Stille Nacht’ with strangers and not feel like strangers.

Best moment – walking out of the church after the concert to discover that it is snowing.. hard… with big giant flakes and no visibility. And to be greeted by the ‘gift’ of warm gluhwein donated by the local big wig to celebrate 100 years of trains running to this spot at the top of Europe (literally, the station in Jungfraujoch just above Wengen is actually called the Top of Europe!)… and you stand there and the snow falls on your face and collects in your scarf and your feet are cold and the snow flakes melt in your warm – and strong – gluhwein… and people smile.. and people laugh… and people don’t mind getting snowed on… and people hum Christmas Carols… and I think… Life is Good. God is Good.

Part of the fam joining me for a day in the salon :)

You walk away with your Faith feeling as strong as the gluhwein.

Some of the rest of the crew went skiing – after all… some of the world’s best downhill skiing can be found in Wengen and environs… but I made due with lots of walks… with lots of hot chocolate… with lots of writing as I stared up at the glaciers of the Jungfraujoch (seriously, the staff of the Hotel Belvedere – who are awesome- must have seen me as some sort of fixture in the bar in the afternoons! But who could blame me! The maid needed to be able to make the bed and the view from the bar kicks ass!)

So… when you are ready for a walk in the woods… on snowy paths… and standing on a cliff to listen to the sound of perfect silence… gimme a shout… book the Hotel Belvedere…  and make room for cheese fondue paired with a perfect chilly Fendant… and…. hear the crunch of the ice beneath your shoes.

For information on Wengen and the Jungfrau region: go here: http://www.myjungfrau.ch/en/welcome.cfm

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