February mid-term is the time of year we go skiing as a family - and this year, we headed for Laax, in Switzerland.
We flew to Zurich, caught the train to Chur, and then the local bus up the mountain to our hotel, the Laaxerhof (right at the bottom of the Gondola).
The kids had their own loft room, they thought it was fabulous!
We arrived Saturday lunchtime - and promptly went about emptying the bank accounts to pay for ski school, lift tickets and equipment hire, before retiring to the local Cafe for a coffee.
Sunday dawned clear and blue, and Phil and the boys went skiing together, whilst Nicole had a private lesson (to get her confidence back after a big stack on her last day skiing last year).
Phil and the boys caught the Gondola up to the top of the mountain (Crap Sion Gorn - pronounced 'Grab Saint John' - with Crap meaning 'Rock'). It became a license for the boys to use the word 'crap', or describe everything as 'crappy' -and get away with it. For example, the Crap gondola, the Crap T-bar, the Crap coffee....
The boys pottered around on mainly Blue runs (as Phil didn't know the mountain, he was cautious to take the kids on runs he didn't know), and skiied down some red ones from the top to the hotel.
Monday was the first day of Ski school for everyone - the boys found themselves in an English speaking group (there were lots of English kids on half-term), Nicole had a mixed group of Dutch and English and Phil had Germans and Swiss in his group.
Compared to many of the other resorts we had been to, we found the ski school to be brilliantly organised, and the teachers really professional. We all felt like we had learned so much during our lessons.
On Tuesday it was 'snow time' - the whole day it snowed - and all night too! There was about 50cm of fresh snow (Nicole loved it, because it was softer to fall on!), and these were completely different conditions to ski in.Below is a picture of how bad the visibility was...you can just make out a group of skiiers, if you look really hard!
Nicole loved skiing in this, even though you could not seen anything more than 10 metres in front of you!
Deep powder skiing is really fun! Nicole and her group all fell over in the deep snow - and took about 20 minutes to get out!
By Thursday, Nicole and Phil had finished ski school. Nicole organised to ski some easier runs with some of her class 'graduates' - Mike and Nicola from the UK. Phil did a few other runs, then caught up in time for coffee, and also for lunch.
Whilst Nicole was taking it steadily, Phil decided to ski over a house and jump off the other side - all went well until he didn't stick the landing - a massive 'crash and burn' - but lots of fun!
Thursday was race day for ski school, and the kids get to do a timed slalom race. Cameron came 3rd in his group, and Alexander came 4th..they were both thrilled!
After lunch, Phil headed up to the top of the Glacier (over 3000m - where it was below -20 degrees C and a heck of a wind chill! Phil then skiied down to Flims (about 1000m high -so thats 2km vertical drop in one Looooong run!). He was worn out after this, but still had the energy to get the lifts back up to the top of the mountain and ski home.
Friday was the last day of Ski School for the boys. Phil took them for a pre-class run down the mountain, and also a run at end of the day.
Alexander is the one wearing the red pants, Cameron is the one at the front in the blue ski suit with a bit of red at the top.
The boys have really come on tremendously with their skiing - they had great fun in the ski school, and we can really see how well they now have the basics (plus a few tricks!) Phil let them lead him down the mountain in shifts, and they really were great. They now have such a good platform that they can use to ski for the rest of their lives. Here are the boys with their terrific teacher, Thorston.
Cameron knocked this long icicle off the roof of the hotel by throwing a snowball at it....then it became a light saber!
On Saturday, the weather was snowy and foggy. Although we were due to board the bus at about lunchtime, Phil wanted one more go on the slopes! So whilst the boys sledded with Nicole, Phil went up top (above the clouds) for a few last hours on the piste.
For a Saturday morning it was so quiet, and from above the clouds, you could see which valley had the clouds and the fog (to avoid!) and which had the sun. Phil had some of the best skiing for the whole week - many of the runs had about 10cm of fresh snow, and no-one on them. Brilliant fun!
Phil made it back for a shower, pack up and check out. Then it was lunch, the bus, the train, and Air Berlin...back to SNOWY Berlin!
This is a week we really look forward to, and this year did not disappoint. Laax was fantastic and we would certainly consider going there again (next year, maybe!!)