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Having a ball - winter '16/17

Explore Switzerland // By WRS // Dec. 7, 2016

A deliciously sweet vin chaud by a blazing fire, daring deeds on a frozen lake and an exciting dog-sled adventure! Here’s what the WRS team loves most when the temperature falls...

Having a ball - winter '16/17

WRS Mid Morning Mix Presenter Katt Cullen shares a glass of winter heaven...

If it’s chilly on the outside and your fingers are falling off from the cold then I have a little suggestion. Warm up with a vin chaud. Otherwise known as mulled wine or glühwein, each recipe comes with regional differences. But whatever herbs you pop in there, the basic ingredient is the same – it’s hot wine, it’s delicious and it warms you right from the inside! Some people say you should earn a vin chaud by doing something strenuous such as skiing down a mountain. I say getting out of my pyjamas and into the fresh air when the temperature’s in single figures is enough. This little saviour is winter heaven in a cup. Oh yes, please drink responsibly. And save some for me...

WRS Director and Presenter Mark Butcher on keeping warm in Zurich and avoiding winter sports at all costs...

As many will confirm – I’m not a big fan of being freezing cold on the side of a mountain. In fact I will go to great lengths to avoid this. Give me a city in winter and I’m happy. Warm bars and warm restaurants. Perfect. On a recent trip to Zurich I discovered “The Butcher”, which seemed like a pretty good name for a burger joint to me! Sat down at a scrubbed pine table, tucked into a tasty homemade burger, chips and salad. And a beer. Job done. The vibe was brisk and busy and the location near Zurich Town Hall (Stüssihofstatt) made it hard to miss. The Butcher has two other addresses in Zurich, and one in Zug. And that’s despite a rather surprising logo in English. Lost in translation is probably the best excuse...

WRS Presenter Hansine Johnston beats winter chills with a Spa trip and a cashmere blanket...

I am known for hating winter in general so I tend to go undercover during this period. Literally. First, I love a sneaky trip to Les Bains de Lavey, near Martigny, with pools, baths and natural hot springs that have a super-clean, sophisticated Swiss vibe that English friends will not associate with memories of local lidos. Various bubbling, warm, wellness pools outside have proper massage jets - and there’s even a magic river to keep the kids going round ... and round. And all with a backdrop of the Alps to complete the experience. At night in winter it’s properly magical and twinkly (open until 10pm). Add a vin chaud (thank you Katt), followed very quickly by a cashmere rug. Did I say I hated winter?

WRS Publication Manager Isabelle Cornet enjoys the call of the wild with an exhilarating dog-sled ride...

The speed, the fresh powder, the energy of the pack, the contact with nature – a dog-sled ride feels like a great adventure, with none of the risks! It was a beautiful winter day under an electric blue sky. We made our way to Mont du Villard, at the edge of Megève, walking the final stretch along a quiet trail. The magnificent dogs were ready, barking and straining at the harness. But the moment the musher shouted they fell quiet – they love to run and were keen to set off. The most popular dog sled teams are Siberian Huskies or Malamutes from Alaska – dogs with incredible blue eyes. And how was the ride? Amazing and exciting, especially when I had the chance to steer the dogs. An unforgettable experience with friends or family.

WRS Digital Manager Emma Baumhofer loves skating on Oeschenin Lake...

A great winter trip with guests is to Oeschinen Lake in the Bernese Oberland. It’s a quick gondola ride up from Kandersteg, plus a lovely short walk. And when the lake is frozen there’s something magical about climbing over huge slabs of ice on the shore and walking out into the middle. It takes some courage to trust the ice but the 360 views of the mountains are awesome! Had enough of walking on water? Try skating followed by a piping hot glass of glühwein from the lakeside café. 

Another favourite is spending a day on Mount Titlis in Central Switzerland. From the charming village of Engelberg you take the rotating gondola all the way to the glacier at 3,020 meters. Then steel your nerves and peer into the abyss on the Cliff Walk, Europe’s highest suspension bridge!

WRS Marketing Consultant Trudi Hayes sips an apèro in Anzère..

My best kept secret for winter is the gorgeous Alpine resort of Anzère in the Valais. With or without the kids - it’s a very family-friendly resort - the skiing is amazing and there’s something for every level. If you’re pretty fast there are plenty of red and black runs; beginners have a good choice and boarders get a snowpark and boardercross. The views are also magnificent, especially from the terrasse of the Hotel Zodiaque where I can recommend you stop off for an apèro. Then, after a hard day skiing, enjoy the views in the village Spa and wellness centre.

WRS Gadget Guru Paul Bristow works up an appetite for hot cheese...

In winter one of my favourite things, once the weather gets cold, is to treat myself to a proper Swiss fondue. I prefer moitié-moitié, (made with Gruyère and Fribourg vacherin) - hot and delicious, served with white wine and bread. I particularly like the “Café du Soleil” in Grand-Saconnex, Geneva, and a small place up in the mountains behind Gruyère that I can't remember the name of but I know exactly where it is... Fondue is meant to be shared, so I restrict myself to times when I have friends or family around, otherwise I would end the winter much wider than when I started. I have a similar method for tartiflette - although in this case the restriction is that I’m not allowed to order it unless I’ve already snow-shoed up a mountain. Sometimes its tough living in Switzerland!

WRS Dig It Presenter Hester Macdonald loves a snowy winter walk through the trees...

The Arboretum in Aubonne is one of the best-kept secrets in the region and is absolutely magnificent in winter. The evergreen pines and other conifers stand out in the landscape, even better with a dusting of snow, and the late autumn colour of the maples and cherry trees lasts for several months in the sheltered valley. With the visitor centre closed until spring, you have the whole 130 hectares to yourself, and more than 3,000 different trees to enjoy in the largest collection in Switzerland. They are planted the length of the Aubonne valley, and vary from North and East American forest trees to a magnificent collection of Japanese cherries, oaks and heritage apple and pear trees. Free to visit, quiet and full of trees, what are you waiting for? Get out and find your inner Dryad!

WRS Commercial Director Ian Smith on winter cricketing madness in St Moritz...

As a lover of British sport, nothing reminds me more of glorious summers past than the sound of willow hitting leather and the taste of cucumber sandwiches, washed down with a Pimms. But cricket in winter? Played on snow? In one of the world’s most iconic ski resorts? Well, that’s just cricketing madness isn’t it? Yet it takes place every February in the heart of Switzerland. Cricket on Ice in St. Moritz is a sensational and incongruous experience, inviting international teams to participate in the most prestigious event in the Swiss cricketing calendar ... at the height of the ski season! Howzat for madness?

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