The advantage of skiing in Switzerland is that noone would possibly know that you bought your ski jacket and salopettes in Lidl.
They do actually have Lidl in Switzerland, it’s just that nobody goes, or at least they would never admit it. And you can be doubly confident that none of the Bogner/Mongler/Cartier ski suit wearing punters in St Moritz shop in Lidl (yes apparently Cartier make ski-wear….)
If you say something like ‘Wow Lidl costs a third of that duopoly coop/migro that has such a grip on the shopping habits of your nation’ then you are likely to be excommunicated from your Swiss in-laws. But at least a small bag of shopping doesn’t cost £150.
Now there seems to have been some excitement in the financial markets the past few days which, if I’ve got this right, means that overnight our visits to Switzerland will now, not just be a bit more expensive, but 40% more expensive.
And that got me thinking what kind of things don’t cost the earth in Switzerland? As specifically, how to not spend too much money when you happen to be in the play-ground of Oligarchs and winter habitat of the English toff, St Moritz.
I started with food and here’s the blog of a week of Swiss recepies based on a theme of starch and cheese which may be light on the pocket but are certainly rather heavy on the stomach.
But there’s also lots of things to do that won’t break the bank and here’s a list:
1. Watch the races on the Olympia Bob:
The world’s only natural ice bob run (there is no concrete underneath). They practice every day in the season but if you are there for a race it is even better.
You can walk down a really good footpath from the top near the Kulm Hotel all the way to Celerina and get the bus or train back. Stop at the bar on the amazing horseshoe bend to watch the action.
2. Relaxing Sledging:
Top day out. Take the train to Preda, and head down the old road, that is shut in winter, to Berguns by sledge. It is 6km long and really picturesque as it winds over and under the World Heritage Site railway line. When you get there, lots of Gluwein stalls await and the train back up to do it again.
(It’s not such a bargain day out of you have to hire a sledge though)
3. Oligarch Watching:
It is really rather good entertainment to spot outrageous bling all over the place. Lots of furs and lots of diamonds and lots of ridiculously oversized dark glasses. Walk down the main street passing every high end luxury brand you can think of. Look out for heated car-park spaces so they are kept clear of ice. There is a whole road that has under-tarmac heating to keep it ice free between the Palace Hotel and Casa Veliga. Be horrified at how the planet is going to hell in a handcart. And how the world’s elite live. Then wander into Hotel Kulm in your walking boots for a cocktail.
4. Ursli path:
A lovely walking path themed around the fantiastic children’s book ‘A Bell for Ursli’ taking you up to Salastrains. Take a sledge and kids can sledge down (it’s not officially a sledging route so be prepared to be frowned at by Swiss people).
The path finishes at the Salastrains nursery slope where the hut that was used to film the original Heidi TV series now lives. Go in. Be Heidi and Geiserpeter.
…. and read “A Bell for Ursli” before you go.
5. The Cresta Run:
The last bastion of the English toff at St Moritz, now that Russian Ologarchs have taken over. You can hear the plummy voices from miles away as the announcer calls out their double barrelled names ‘Number four. Lord Thisleton-Lumley’ as they throw themselves headfirst in plus-fours and vintage leather shoes.
No women allowed. Which makes them look even more ridiulous if you just head over to the Olympia Bob and see the amazing women from the Swiss skeleton team who would burn them all off in an instant.