Weekends like real Swiss people do

Sveitsi - 21.10.2017 16:50

The autumn has been beautiful and colorful. Every weekend for the past few weeks we’ve been thinking ”now this will be the last nice weekend to go out to the mountains before winter”, but we’ve done that already three weekends in a row, which means we’ve been able to do some nice hikes and explore more of Switzerland! The temperature went down close to zero at one point, but now it’s warmer again and during the day the quicksilver rises up to 20 degrees Celsius.

First one of our autumn hikes was at the Aletsch glacier in canton Valais. Aletsch is the largest glacier at the Alps, with length of 23km and maximum thickness of 1km. Like many other glaciers, it’s retreating as the average temperature rises. We did a 5.5hrs hike around the area where the glacier ends and turns into a river, in a UNESCO world heritage forest area. It was beautiful walking in the canyon where the glacier was still some 50 years ago. The glacier had left clear marks as it had moved along the cliffs. We crossed the glacier river gorge by a long suspension bridge. After the bridge it was quite an intense climb of 650m up the mountain to the cable car down to the valley and ultimately to Brig, where we had left our car. It was a really beautiful hike, ancient glacier tracks, and the pine forest up the mountain was really old and beautiful! I’d like to go again, and next time to a higher point where we could better see the vastness of the glacier, which looks really impressive in pictures in the internet.

Our next weekend hike was going to Grindelwald in the Interlaken area in canton Bern, in relation to the previous weekend hike just on the other side of Jungfrau mountain. Many people had told us that Grindelwald is their favorite area in Switzerland, so we had to check it out! And it was really beautiful indeed. Located next to the beautiful turquoise lakes of Interlaken and Thun, surrounded by impressive mountains like the Eiger and Jungfrau, between the exposed rocky mountains and green pastures lying there a cute Swiss village with small farm lands, a post card view. There are many options for hiking in Grindelwald, and one can easily spend a few days doing nice hikes there. We did a 5hr hike towards Glecksteinhut, which is open from June to September to visitors. Apparently there is a family who live there in the summer and they serve food and drinks for hikers. The hut is at 2,317m altitude, and we didn’t have enough time and strength to make it all the way to the hut. We hiked to about 2,200m where we could see the Upper Grindelwald Glacier. On our way up we came across a few hikers who had to turn back because the route going through a waterfall was too icy and dangerous. Fortunately by the time we arrived to the waterfall the sunshine had melted all ice, so it was safe to go through, we just got a bit wet. On our way down we saw a small capricorn family. These animals are in their element on high and exposed cliffs like this. It’s amazing!

The third glacier weekend was with Deborah’s parents at Zermatt! In my two years here in Switzerland I still hadn’t made it to Zermatt to see the famous Matterhorn mountain, appearing in the brand image of Toblerone chocolate. I didn’t expect much, I thought I had seen the mountain in so many posters and pictures, that I wouldn’t be impressed when I actually see it. I was so wrong; I was really impressed by the dramatic horn, that was visible from everywhere in the valley. And I really liked the village of Zermatt. There are no cars, just some small electric taxis, so it’s a quiet town, in the heart of beautiful mountains. The town is surrounded by high mountains all around, and as you get up, you see 40 peaks rising above 4,000m! There are many beautiful hikes around, you can do all by foot, but you also have many cable cars and mountain trains to assist you on your way, and as usually in Switzerland, restaurants are never far away even at the mountains! So, not necessary to bring a big backpack. We stayed one night in a hotel in Zermatt and it was really nice to see the town in the evening and in the morning as well, instead of doing just a day trip. There are also many shops, restaurants and spas available. It was the last weekend of the summer season, and the town will quiet down for a month or so, before winter season begins. We went to a really nice restaurant called Chez Vrony, which was open for the last day. It has an amazing terrace up at the mountains, basking in sun, looking at the Matterhorn, and they serve delicious meals. Highly recommended! We were blessed with amazing weather as well, so we could really enjoy the weekend, beautiful colors of the nature, fresh air, good food and company! I look forward to revisiting Zermatt, either for mountain biking or skiing!

Aletsch Glacier (Wikipedia) Aletsch Glacier (Wikipedia) In the footsteps of the Aletsch Glacier Aletsch UNESCO Me, Deb, Eiger Ice princess Icy path up the mountain Grindelwald Matterhorn Model Fondue after hiking, like the real Swiss people do! Cemetery for climbers at Zermatt. This grave is dedicated for all the unknown climbers.

Field trip to Lebanon

Libanon - 1.10.2017 20:57

I was able to do my first field visit working with Medair at the end of this summer. I was really excited to meet with my colleagues in Lebanon, both the local staff as well as the expats I work with daily, supporting the field team from Medair HQ. I spent a week in the country, visiting Beirut and Zahle, working with the staff in the office and visiting the beneficiaries in the informal refugee settlements. I was also fortunate to do some outdoors activities and sightseeing during the weekend with my colleagues, who introduced me to the flavors, beauty and hospitality of Lebanon.

The field trip was a great boost for me, and I’m happy it was helpful and motivating for the field team as well. I feel it’s so important to have more personal relationships with the people I work with, and now I can understand the life and work in the field better. I was really encouraged to see how dedicated all our staff are, their compassion for the individuals who have had to leave everything behind and flee their home countries in state of conflict. I’m proud of the high quality of aid our teams deliver in Lebanon to bring hope and make a difference in this world, serving those most vulnerable and hard to reach.

Flying in to Beirut I <3 Beirut Beirut is beautiful (and safe) in the evening too! We found this beautiful café on top of a mountain near Tannourin Beautiful stone formations at the mountains. Great for bouldering! Our climbing crew representing different NGOs Beautiful rock for climbing, really got me into the sport again! Visiting vineyards in the Bekaa valley Wine barrels stored in underground caves where people used to take refuge I need to print this for HQ as well! Ensuring the shelter kits are distributed to the correct people Registering the distributions with thumb prints Shelter distributions to the families based on needs assesments I had the privilege to learn about distributions from our great distributions team

Hoi! from Liechtenstein

I hope I got the name right! They actually sell mugs with ten different ways to misspell the country.

It’s funny, I was in Hong Kong back in 2012 for an exchange semester (you’ll find posts about that in the blog too, in Finnish though). Became friends with the facilitator of the Christian small group I was attending at the Uni. A really cool guy. About a year ago, I would say, he came to visit me in Switzerland, as he came for a job interview at the same time. And here we are now, both living in Switzerland! He lives on the other side of the country, though, in St. Gallen. When Deborah was in Lebanon and Jordan for two weeks, I went to visit my friend in St Gallen for a weekend! He lives 10 minutes away from Liechtenstein, where he works now at the Hilti headquarters, so I was able to get to know another country as well! Basically I think Liechtenstein is an extension of Switzerland, though. That’s how it feels like. They use the Swiss Francs as currency, they have Swiss postal codes.. But they have their own license plates, Prince, castle and the flag, and their own words, like ”Hoi!”, which means ”Hello!”, and that’s funny because that’s also the word my Finnish grandma uses for greeting! Wonder who was first, my grandma or Liechtenstein..

Meeting with international friends' group in St Gallen The Princely House The picture I wasn't allowed to take...! Many museums to visit in Liechtenstein This is the neighborhood of Heidi, the famous children's story at the Alps Great football game between St Gallen and FC Sion!