Friday, December 29, 2006

Day 1: Two Peas in a Pod

What a glorious train journey - an early start from Gare de Lyon, slowly awakening to the palest of sunrises kissing a frost-laden landscape. Those grey London days have become but a distant memory as we sat mesmerised by the wonder of the utter beauty of nature around us. European trains are of course more efficient, faster and infinitely more enjoyable than our british counterparts - why fly when trains are this romantic?

Over the hills to the Swiss border, then smoothly down into a mist-shrouded Lausanne, clinging to the sides of the lake with the sun burning off the last of the haziness. From the sleepy station of Aigle we were on the last leg - venturing into the Dents du Midi, up through the mist and round hairpins we go, until finally, we have arrived!

Ah, but this quite quite something. For an eco-gal like me who believes luxury and sustainablilty are ideal bed-partners, this is a marriage made in heaven. No air-con here - no, just fresh oxygen to gulp and a woodstove to warm one's tootsies in one's own ecopod. These eco-pods are well insulated, well stocked, well appointed and, well, utterly pod-tastic.

And there is snow - but not as much as there should be for this time of year. Does it matter? Actually, probably not. This is not about artificial snow being pumped out, a quick-fix solution which utilises vast - and depleting - water resources, creates a huge energy output and is laced with a gruesome toxic concoction of chemicals (to obtain lower freezing points) that then seep into and damage the soil when the thaw comes along. Due to the low snowfall this christmas, the majority of the runs open at the moment in Switzerland are created from artificial snow - a fact that is, ironically, proudly advertised.

Here at Whitepod, when the snow is not quite optimum to ski on, there are other more sustainable alternatives to explore - snowshoeing, cross-country ski-ing, dog-sleighing, paragliding, ice climbing. It's about living with nature, about looking to the resources available, and it's about leaving behind a smaller, less penetrative eco-footprint. Tomorrow the exploration begins...

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