We’re sitting in a train headed towards the mountains, playing Exploding Kittens. The compartment is packed. Luckily we’ve been early and caught a little space with a table for the four of us – two friends, my love and me.
By the time precipices rise high outside the train window and the snow-covered mountain peaks seem within reach, we’re lost in the game. It’s funny. I remember being on trips many years ago, hearing other people having fun and laughing, envying them. There was no fun where I was (surely owed to me as well).
But here we are, swearing kindly at each other and laughing a bit too loud. People curiously look at us to figure out the source of our delight and I’m so so happy.
And I’m so glad that my love gets to meet my friends every year. The chemistry is right, familiarity slowly settles in.
After an hour, we arrive at the village lying at the foot of millions of years old mountains, get a sledge for my love and take the gondola up up up, the houses turning into tiny specks that disappear beneath us. We set foot on the mountain and the sun almost blinds us, filling the air with pleasant warmth.
We have to walk half an hour to reach the frozen lake. The path leads us through snow-covered forests, the air is clear as ice. We’re surrounded by beautiful mountains and I’m in awe. Why haven’t I come here before? This country offers so many beautiful places that make my heart ache, and yet I’ve always been drawn to discovering faraway countries.
Then we reach the restaurant overlooking the lake and our first reaction, surprisingly, is disappointment. We knew, and yet it’s something entirely different to actually see it: the lake is white, covered by a layer of snow, unimpressive. It might as well have been a flat earthy surface. It doesn’t look as breathtaking as on the pictures taken in summer, when you see the turquoise water, the mighty mountains and dark green forest around it.
We eat our picknick where we are, two people on each sledge. The sun has disappeared behind the mountains, they are so high, and the cold starts gnawing at us.
By the time we finally walk down the slope to explore the ice walk on the lake, we’re shivering. It’s freezing and I have to watch every step in order not to slip on the traitorous ice beneath the snow, barely able to lift my eyes to focus my attention on the beautiful nature around me. I imagined the whole experience differently, unfulfilled expectations worsen my mood.
Then the guys explore an ice tower while Elena and I walk towards the sun that has reached the border of the lake. Our saving grace. The rays finally caress our face. It’s warm, and suddenly everything feels better. It’s amazing. I wish I could take a nap then and there, the sun warming my face while laying on the frozen lake.
My friend Cedric joins us after a while, but some time shall pass before my love returns from his little expedition. He’s enthusiastic. Cedric’s right, we’re spoilt and take so much for granted. I do love the mountains. They take my breath away and leave me staring. But, being more used to it, I hardly get so excited about it as my love does.
His joy is contagious, he easily convinces me to get over my laziness and take my photo up there. So we walk back from where he came from and really, it’s amazing. The place is a bit elevated, huge icicles to our right, the ice tower to our left, below us the lake and the glorious mountains in front of us. We play a couple of rounds of Exploding Kittens in the sun before continuing our round.
After completing the walk, we split up. Elena and I walk towards the station while my love and Cedric go sledding. I’m worried about my love, the slope is said to be for experienced sledders and he’s never sledded before. I know him, he loves to do dangerous things while I’m the one who plays overly safe. The slope is partly steep and sledges pick up a rapid speed. So many horrible things can happen if you lose control.
As for us girls, the way back is strenuous. People keep passing us. We carry both our own backpack and the guys’ and our shoulders hurt while I’m afraid of slipping and breaking my camera. But we make it, faster than we thought. When we arrive downstairs, the guys are already waiting. I’m so relieved to see them both standing there intact. No accidents.
My love is covered in white, frozen snow has turned into ice in his beard and hair. His whole face has turned red, but his smile. Oh, his smile. It’s priceless, so precious. He looks like a child, smile from one ear to another, all red cheeks and pure happiness radiating from his dark eyes. It warms my heart to see him so happy.
I forget to take a picture, but words form in my head while I’m watching him fondly. I’d like to freeze his precious expression so it’ll never slip my mind.