Star of the alps … the edelweiss …

Our mountain excursion at Arolla two weeks ago would not have been as memorable … if not for the beautiful alpine stars that we spotted when making our way down the mountain.

Although I was a little annoyed with myself for not being able to finish the hike, it turned out that my getting sick after lunch … which caused us to turn back instead of joining the father and son to finish the hike up the mountain to the pass … was, in fact, a blessing in disguise.

Left to make our way down the mountain, we were thus able to take our time walking down slowly … and, in the process, not only were we able to admire the landscape and our surroundings but also to observe them in greater detail.

And this was when we spotted the ‘star’ attraction of the day …


… the edelweiss … otherwise known as the alpine star (stella alpina) in Italian (as Italy was not far).

It was the hubby who first spotted this beauty growing on the slope of the path that we were walking on. He asked me whether the flower was indeed what he thought it was … and I was happy to confirm that it was indeed the Swiss national flower. Once I realised that these flowers were growing on that slope … I started to pay close attention and later spotted several more further down the trail.


This was, of course, not the first time that I had seen this Swiss beauty. But … it was my first encounter with them in their home ground — and the same held true for the hubby for Switzerland. These are the real thing … not those grown in the greenhouse and then sold in the garden centres or flower shops!


The hubby and I could not believe our luck at seeing these beauties. And mind you, it was not easy to spot these alpine stars as they do not grow in group or cluster and their colour ensures that they do not stand out like the other flowers. If you do not believe me, try spotting the edelweiss in the above photo.


I was very happy when I spotted these beauties as they were in perfect shape … and truly deserved their Italian name ‘stella alpina‘ or alpine star.


It certainly looks like a star, does it not? And the colour and texture … it called to mind an image of snow and snow flakes … which thus explain the lyric ‘blossom of snow’ from the song Edelweiss. Touching the petals was like touching a material made of felt … and it even looked like it!


It was tempting to bring home a stalk or two … but both the hubby and I managed to refrain ourselves from doing so.


These star beauties are a protected species … and it is understandable why this is so given their declining numbers in the wild. So I can only hope that nobody will try to pick them from the wild.


When I first learnt to sing the song Edelweiss back in my secondary school days, never did I imagine that I would, one day, get to see and touch the actual flowers.


But I am very glad that I did … and, as an icing on the cake, I got to do so in their natural habitat on the slope of the Swiss alps! What a treat! :-)


These two pictures (above and below) are two of my favourite shots of the alpine star or edelweiss as set against the Swiss alps.


So, despite my initial reluctance and reservation to go on that hike at Arolla … I was truly glad that I did it. And its all thanks to these beauties, here … :-D

Some of the lyrics to the song Edelweiss (from the film ‘The Sound of Music’ click here to listen to the song from this film) which I had to sing in school :

Every morning you greet me
Small and white, clean and bright
You look happy to meet me
Blossom of snow
May you bloom and grow
Bloom and grow forever…

Other entries on Arolla:

The mountains of Arolla … in summer …

As a treat for my silence for the past month, here are some selected photos of the beautiful region of Arolla which I finally got to see in summer. The hubby and I had been there a few times when the area was covered in snow … but this time, we got to enjoy the beautiful mountain view when the landscape was looking a lot more colourful.

We were not alone there … but we were joined by hubby’s bestie and his father who were spending some time at their small chalet in another mountain slope in the same region.


My three male companions stopping and chatting while waiting for the only female in the group to catch up with them. :-)

After many months of not doing any hiking or snowshoeing up the mountains nor any exercise at home … I was truly in a bad shape. I had my reservation about joining the walk as hubby’s bestie and his father (despite his years) are very fit and they do a lot of mountain hiking and climbing … but the hubby was keen that I should come and get some fresh mountain air. So, okay lah …


The day was beautifully sunny and not too warm for such a hike. And we were not alone up on the mountain. We passed and also spotted several different group of hikers … some taking different paths from ours.


Three hikers about to pass a bend with the magnificent glacier of Tsijore Nouve looming above and providing an eye candy for all hikers walking this mountain path.


If we had been walking on our own … I would have stopped often to take lots of photos and to admire the flora a bit more. Unfortunately, my walking companions are serious walkers, unlike me.  Still … they were kind enough to stop often so that I could catch up with them.


In summer, the beautiful glacier of Tsijore Nouve is difficult to miss … but there are many glaciers that one could check out in the area.


After the hike up, I was glad when we started making our way through flatter ground.


The view … looking back from where we had come.


But even here on flatter ground … I got left far behind by my three companions. Not only because I was slow … but also because I could not resist stopping a few times to take photos of some of the flora and fauna that I saw along the way.

It was not long after we had left this area that we stopped for lunch. Unfortunately, I felt a little sick when it was time to resume the hike up the mountain path.  So while the father and son pressed ahead with their hike, the hubby accompanied me back down the mountain.


However, since we walked slowly and I stopped often to take a lot of photos of some of the alpine flowers that I saw along the way… the father and son later caught up with us on their way down!


But the walk down was much more pleasant than the hike up and I was able to enjoy the landscape a bit more.


And this time … I had no problem keeping pace with the three of them!


Well … almost no problem … only if I cared to refrain from taking snapshots while walking down, that is! :-D


Finally, we stopped to have a drink at this cabin … which I had wanted to visit during our past visits to the area.


Sun loungers for those who prefer to have their drink while basking in the sun ….


… and while admiring the view of the glacier of Tsijore Nouve.


The circled area is where the hubby and I had snowshoed up the mountain slope and then entered the pass (between the two moraines) during our visit to the area in March 2012 (on day 3).

La Sage village

From the mountain at Arolla, we then followed hubby’s bestie and his father to their chalet situated in a small village on another mountain in the same area.


We had to hike up from the carpark to where their chalet is situated.


And it was not a short hike.


But for the beautiful view … you could say that it was worth the hike up lah! :-D

Other entries on Arolla:


A little walk up the hill …

The summer this year has been unbelievably crappy. Not that spring was any better. But this year, it seems as if we have skipped spring to go straight into autumn mode. My babies on the balcony are suffering: not a single ripe tomato in sight even though we are already reaching the end of August … and my aubergine plants have not grown big nor have they matured enough to sprout a single bloom! But more about my poor babies in another entry.


Rather … given such a gloomy and very autumn-like weather that we are having today (as can be seen on the picture above), I prefer to share something that reminds me that we are, in fact, still in summer.

It was on the little walking excursion that the hubby and I did last week, on one of the few evenings when the day was nice and warm. Unfortunately, the nice day was marred by some rain showers towards the end of the walk. But in spite of the spoiler towards the end of our little walk, it was still a very nice outing … with unexpected ‘bounty’ at the end of it.

The following are some shots that I took … several of which are of the nice houses up the hill (in Epalinges, a commune just above Lausanne) that, unfortunately, I can only dream about having as my own!

SAM_9121AThe first house that caught my interest. It has a beautiful view with a large sloping garden that has lots of possibilities!

SAM_9124.ABut as we walked further uphill …


… there was this house which enjoys an even better view. Although it looked like one big house … it is actually comprised of several separate units.


Its strategic location ensures that it has a superb view of Lake Geneva. (There is another shot of the house further down the entry which shows the view of the lake and mountains which can be seen from this house.)


Another interesting looking house, a semi-detached this time. This style used to be in l’esprit du temps (in simple English … very trendy lah!) only a few years ago. But it has since fallen out of favour.


The wooden construction, the potager garden at the back of the house … plus the lake view from the balcony and the terrace in front: this house easily became my favourite during the walk!


Hubby leading the way … while I was busy snapping photos of the houses and gardens that I saw along the way.


Somehow, the front porch of this house reminded me of a house that I had seen in an old Malay film which I could not remember the title of … nor the storyline!


The streets were clean and there were not that many cars … so that it was hard not to notice that the air felt a whole lot fresher up here than down the hill.


I walked towards this house (a few minutes further up from the previous picture) … only because we heard the sound of cow bells coming from this side of the street. I could not resist checking it out …


… and, true enough, there were 3 of them on this small field … staring fixedly at me when I tried to snap their photos! :-)


The view that greeted the cows as they were grazing in the field that evening. Lucky cows!!


Walking past a house with a big flower garden …


… with a partial lake view as we left the cows grazing peacefully.


I really love the area. The houses were all very nice, the streets were clean with very little traffic … and the lake view is definitely a bonus!

I was ready to go home by this time … but the hubby insisted that there was not much further to go from where he wanted to show me something.


He had been to this old church on the hill a few times before on his runs …


… and so he was keen to bring me here so that I could see the view from this standpoint. Unfortunately, because of the rain clouds … the picture turned out a little dark. (Just click on the picture to get a better look at the view.)


Nonetheless, I have to agree with the hubby that the view from the old church was really beautiful …


… and there was basically nothing to obstruct the panoramic view (with France across the lake).


Looking at the view from this side (Alpes vaudoises and Valais in sight), however, it reminded me that given our lousy summer weather … we should not be surprised to see autumn come knocking on our door sooner than we would have expected! The leaves are already starting to change colours!


The greyness of the rain clouds and the golden hue of the evening sun made such a beautiful contrast as we made our way home more than an hour later.


The same house that we had passed by on our way up earlier and which overlooks a wide expanse of Lake Geneva (or Lac Léman in French) as it was bathed in the glow of the evening sun.


And … in addition, we spotted not just one … but two sets of rainbow (although you might not be able to see the second one on the outer ring very clearly) that were arching over the house. So beautiful …


As an icing on the cake … I also spotted these beauties from across the road … as we were walking. Even though we had not brought anything with us to put these sweet brambles (they were sweeter than the ones that I picked from the woods just two weeks earlier) …


… we could not let these free stuff go to waste. The cap of the thermos flask that the hubby had carried with him to put his tea .. and his palm … served as containers just as well! hehehe … :-D

Other entries on Epalinges: