“For me it’s like a homecoming”
“Back in the day, in my school years, we used to go swimming in Göschenen about every other week. By the time we got there by train and had changed our clothes, it seemed like we had just ten minutes left for swimming. But anyway, we Realpers felt more at home on skis than in the water”, reminisces Franz-Xaver Simmen. What he still has from his childhood is his connection with nature and the mountains. “My work involves lots of meetings. To balance that out, I need to get outside in the sunshine and fresh air. When I am not able to move for a long time, I get impatient.”
Although Franz-Xaver Simmen is closely connected with Uri, and especially with the Urseren Valley, as a young engineer he was drawn out into the big world. He lived for a year in Brisbane, in Queensland, Australia. “That was definitely a formative year. The work ethic was very different from that in Switzerland. It was a challenge, but it made me much more open and tolerant.” Even the countryside around Brisbane put him to the test. “I missed the mountains and especially the seasons. 350 sunny days a year might sound like paradise, but it’s not my thing. I need snow and rain just as much as sun.”
The importance of seasons to Franz-Xaver Simmen is also reflected in his hobbies. “I was probably on skis before I could even walk properly. And in recent years I’ve come to appreciate cross-country skiing more and more. In the summer I like to bike, and I’ve also started golfing. As much as I enjoy golf, I don’t play very often. I really like to spend my free time with my family.” His four sons keep him busy. Elias, Valentin, David and Jan are between two and seven years old. “I’m a family man. That also helps me unwind after work. Our weekends are action packed. Like me, our four boys are early risers. And because there’s so much to do here in the canton of Uri, we’re always on the go: on our bikes, in the mountains or at a lake. In the evenings we enjoy being at home and playing together.”
For many years, Franz-Xaver Simmen’s workplace was not so close to home. “We live in Altdorf, so now I can even go home for lunch. This is a new experience for my wife and children.” As a native of Uri, he has been following the Andermatt Swiss Alps project for years. “Since the beginning, I’ve always been aware of the opportunities the Urseren Valley offers. I’ve often compared it to a diamond in the rough – which now, thanks to the comprehensive project by Samih Sawiris, is receiving the perfect finish. For me, it’s really like a homecoming.”
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