Before moving to Germany, I wasn't aware that fondue was a Swiss tradition. My experience with it was limited to home made stuff where we had different types of meat that were cooked in hot oil, and the stuff from the Melting Pot restaurants. Traditional Swiss fondue though, is pretty much just a pot of cheese served with bread. When we decided to head to Switzerland for a couple of days after Christmas, we knew we had to try this Swiss specialty. What better way to try it than sitting in an igloo at the top of a mountain in the Swiss Alps?
We set out on December 26 for Switzerland. I had made a reservation at the Fondue Iglu in Adelboden for dinner that night. Unfortunately, we hit terrible traffic in Switzerland and I kind of miscalculated how long it would take us to get from our hotel to the restaurant (who knew 20 km could take an hour and a half? When you have to drive around a mountain it can), and we missed our reservation that night. I was really bummed, and a little bit of a hormonal mess, but, thankfully, I was able to snag us a reservation for lunch the next day.
We spent the evening in Adelboden, which sits in a valley. There was snow, it was cold, and it was glorious. In Mannheim, the weather rarely dips below 40F, and when it does, we usually get rain, not snow, so it was nice to see some of the white stuff.
The next morning, we headed out to Adelboden, making sure to leave ourselves plenty of time to get there. We made it, and purchased our tickets for the cable car ride to the top. We were crammed in there like sardines - so many of us I actually was a little worried that it would be too heavy. People had skis, sleds, kids, strollers, dogs, and snowshoes. From our vantage point, we had no idea how or where people would use these. The mountain face that we could see was, more or less, a sheer cliff. And we had no idea where the igloo would be. Nonetheless, we boarded the cable car (a first for both of us), and took the 5 minute ride to the top.
As we made it to the top station, the doors opened and people literally spilled out. As we left the station, to one side was the sheer cliff that we had just ascended, and to the other was a a large, bowl shaped area. Here, there were the hiking trails, a couple of ski runs, a restaurant with a hotel attached, and nearby, the igloo. From the outside, it mostly looked like a big pile of snow. I guess I was expecting something a little more, igloo-like.
There was still some time before the igloo opened for lunch, so what do you do when you're at the top of a mountain in the Swiss Alps? Take some selfies! Aaron was trying out a new tripod, so we were able to get some good ones together (finally!).
The sun was really bright, especially since it was bouncing up from the snow, and surprisingly warm. Within minutes, Aaron had shed his jacket and I was stripping off my hat and neck warmer. But, the whole area was beautiful. It was a first for both of us to be standing at the top of a mountain, and we were giddy with the excitement.
As the time for our reservation drew nearer, we headed towards the igloo. Once inside, we were blown away. It was a LOT bigger than it looked from the outside. There were lots of little rooms all carved out with tables set up. The benches at the tables were covered with reindeer furs to sit on. We spent some time wandering around, admiring the work, and reminiscing about our days spent building snow statues at Michigan Tech for their annual Winter Carnival (seriously, go check out that link, I'm still blown away that a bunch of college students are able to build those things using only water, snow, and hatches - no power tools - all while attending classes full time).
The igloo fully explored, we headed back to our table where we ordered some hot drinks and waited for our fondue. Soon, a steaming red pot was brought out and placed on a stand with a heater below it. I tentatively grabbed the skewer, put a piece of bread on it, dipped it in the cheese, plopped it in my mouth, and promptly burnt my tongue. It was hotter than it looked, but, no joke, was one of the best things I had ever eaten. I love cheese, and bread, so bread covered in hot cheese is kind of like the best lunch ever. And we were at the top of a mountain, in the alps, in an igloo, eating it. The only thing that would have made the afternoon better is if I could have skied a couple of runs, but alas, at 36 weeks pregnant, skiing is kind of off limits.
Between the two of us, we couldn't quite finish the pot. We got close, but it was so rich, we just couldn't do it. We were both in a cheese coma and if we could have, we would have curled up right there and taken a nap. I think the waitstaff would have frowned upon that though.
After gorging ourselves on cheese, we headed back out into the very bright midday sun. I looked longingly at the ski runs; Aaron looked at them and said to me, "Yea, I would die." There were kids barely old enough to walk that were skiing. One of these days, I want to get him on skis (he's only ever tried snowboarding).
We took in the view one last time, and boarded the cable car to descend the mountain, before taking off on to our next overnight destination.