St. Moritz Blitz

St. Moritz has a bit of an identity crisis.

After a weekend blitz, I find myself asking, “What is St. Moritz?”

Is it a ski town dedicated to high alpine skiing in the Swiss Alps or is it a shopping mecca heralded for it ritzy couture shops?  Every major designer has laid claim to the real estate that spirals up along the road to the ski mountain.  Jewelry stores offer more “ice” than the surrounding slopes, adding to the blinding bling of St. Moritz glitz.  There as many people clutching shopping bags as holding skis. It is definitely not a place where PETA has made an impact. I have never seen such an assortment of fur adorning everything:  coats, vests, sweaters, purses, ski attire, hats, hoods, scarves, muffs.  Aspen looks frugal in comparison.

What is its language?  Italian, French, Swiss German, and English are spoken everywhere.  You are greeted with Bon Giorno at breakfast, Good Afternoon at lunch, and Buona Sera at dinner.  People speak multiple languages effortlessly, making me acutely aware of how provincially American I am with only one choice to offer in response.

Is it a place of vigorous exercise or indulgent gluttony?  From my observation, chocolate and cheese are the major food groups in St. Moritz (my kind of town!)  Gourmet chocolate shops provide relief from the fashion invasion.  Giving new meaning to the expression “eye candy”, the store windows beckon and the proprietors sell chocolate in giant sheets, not mere bars.   The Swiss are famous for cheese fondue, which according to my waiter, combines with hearty bread to create a “ball of cement” in your stomach.  If this is not heavy enough, menus boast the local specialty of pasta combined with deep fried potatoes and then smothered in cheese sauce.  What was that about cement? People should be keeling over from heart attacks!

We enjoyed a long weekend in this schizophrenic environment.  After a harrowing 3 hour drive spent zig-zagging on switchbacks that carved through mountains, we pulled in St. Moritz well past mid-night on Thursday.  It snowed all night, and we woke up to a winter wonderland on Friday.  The snowfall created very little visibility, making skiing too challenging.  We skated on the town rink, walked across the massive frozen lake, swam in the indoor pool, rode behind a horse-drawn sleigh, and cemented our stomachs with a fondue feast.  On Saturday, the girls braved the conditions with Jeff and skied fresh powder high above the trees.  For the first time ever on the slopes, Jackie and Jeff experienced vertigo because it was impossible to tell the sky from the ground, creating a very disorienting feeling. Unlike the clear signage in U.S. ski resorts, the trails or “pistes” in Europe are poorly marked.  You can literally ski off the side of the mountain!  I wisely decided to hike on snow shoes in the woods, surrounded by snow-capped pines and utter tranquility.

Though unsure which identity it fits, we decided we like St. Moritz

 

 

 

 

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