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22-03-2011
VALS - SWITZERLAND

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For three hours we were cocooned in our metal shell hurtling through a landscape half hidden by cloud. (Our faithful Fiat Punto is still with us!) A hint of Spring now and then, yellow balls of forcythia, golden daffodils and new born lambs. Finally we arrive in Vals, a tiny village and  thermal baths. The hotel is a made up of 3 huge white and blue modern buildings set among the lanky pine trees. I am trasported silently up 7 floors in a silver box, a super advanced lift, and walk out onto a  sky blue carpet across a bridge suspended between 2 buildings.
Treading on velvety slippers we make our way to the thermal baths on the sixth floor. Peter Zumthor, the celebrated Swiss architect has created the most spititual and zen-like recreation water area. The simple and pure lines using local grey/black stone contrast with the jade colour of the water. You slip into the silky warm water and can stay outside for hours, never feeling cold. The mountain slopes now just a little patchy with the last vestiges of snow offer a tranquil backdrop to the place. You can pick out a local walking a dog but otherwise there is very little movement. The whole experience is about slowing down....
After dinner in Chessy restaurant we dived under our soft sheets to avoid the chilly air...we were in a peaceful state but turning on CNN we heard the news that the Americans, French and British would support an no-fly zone over Libya with military action....
The next day the sun shone and we explored the little village, admiring the delicate wooden façades of the houses, made with wooden fish like scales! Our hotel Alpina turned out to have been restored by another famous architect called Caminada. I would definitely recommend it perhaps more so than staying at the thermal baths as our room was much larger and more comfortable. The village had just one baker and one cheese shop but with such a choice of homemade yogurt! You could hear the goats bleating outside and taste the wonderful cheeses. There was even fresh milk straight from the cows! Definitely Switzerland has some amazing brown breads and so you can imagine our car was laden with goodies from fresh butter to local honey and cheeses too! We were lucky it wasn't summer yet as we had quite a way to drive back and no cool box..


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