Memories of Switzerland always turn to mountains and the picturesque farms and villages perched on steep, green slopes.
When I went to Zermatt a few summers ago, I had expected to spend two full days skiing on the highest slopes that remain snowy all year round. Instead, I spent most of my first day hanging out with sheep. We had arrived during the hottest summer in dozens of years.
Summer skiing the next day…not even warm enough for coats
When my little traveling group showed up at our adorable hotel, Le Petit Charme Inn, our friendly host explained that the ski slopes were currently slush, so we should take a hike over the village to get a good view of the Matterhorn. The hike began at the edge of town and passed a few cows lazing in the grass before climbing pretty steeply through a dense forest. Olivia and I were seriously over the hike after five hundred feet that felt like approximately five miles. We sat on a quite a few rocks while Dean (who is basically Disney’s Tigger in human form) bounced around coaxing us to keep going. That is until Olivia heard the twinkling of sheep bells in the distance.
Everywhere we went in Switzerland, every adorable sheep wore a little bell around its neck to help its shepherd keep track of his flock. The sound of a whole flock of sheep bells softly clinking in a field truly sets the soundtrack for a timeless fairytale.
The sound of bells also means there’s surely a group of cute animals just around the corner, which was definitely the case on our hike! The first tiny farm- livestock farms in Switzerland are like the size of my room, nothing is Texas size- was just feet from the path, and we hurried to take picture of them next to their slate roofed barn. This wasn’t the first group of sheep, though. We spent the rest of our hike hurrying from one little pasture to the next. Soon, without even remembering how “tired” we had been, we found ourselves above the tree line and with a spectacular view of the Matterhorn brooding over the field.
Olivia, Dean, and I spent some time taking selfies with sheep and absorbing the beautiful mountain-scape around us. We also found that as always, you never know exactly where you’ll end up on vacation, and cute animals plus beautiful views equals extreme hiking endurance.
Deign at home
Walking around Zermatt after our hike, we were reminded of the afternoon we had spent with sheep and of the town’s inextricable relationship with the countryside around it. Everywhere we looked was wool and lambskin décor. Many of the cafes had draped sheep skins over chairs to keep customers warm as they ate outside, overlooking the (typically) snowcapped mountains. The use of these local wool products showcased regional heritage while creating a cozy, inviting look.
Back home, you can recreate this warm Swiss look with sheep skin throws available online or even relatively iexpensively from your local Ikea store.
You can also honor your new lamb friends by using faux lambskin.
Either way, paired with a warm wool blanket (in very Swiss bright red) your house will feel warm and inviting.