No longer active at sixty? No way! At sixty it's high time to swim against the tide. Or with it?
What's beyond doubt is that these pensioners are generation 4.0. Silver surfers are riding on the crest of the wave.
There may be a whiff of Dolce & Gabbana around them, or perhaps it’s rheumatism ointment. Each is worn as self-assuredly as the other. They talk about artificial hips and how virtual reality is revolutionising surgery. They meet for tea and cakes and order ristretto and cupcakes. They have a stash of gold coins at home and get annoyed with the hipster who isn't fast enough at the self-service checkout. When all is said and done, in the end, time is not money, but just time. And it is limited. Between yoga classes, coffee mornings, visiting grandchildren and their painting lessons, now and then they need a rest.
So to make the most of that rest, silver surfers love going on active holidays. And that's when they treat themselves! After all, they slogged away for half a century to earn their pension. To reward themselves, they willingly take their well-fed piggy bank to slaughter. Not impulsively, mind you, but after careful consideration. That doesn't make much difference to the pig, but it does for the many holiday destinations which would like to have their share of the bacon. What they offer has to be good, better than what the very strong competition has to offer, because silver surfers weigh things up and make comparisons.
How do I know all this in such detail? Because, at 66, I'm a silver surfer myself. And because yesterday, at the last minute, I booked a week's walking in beautiful Davos – online, of course. So this very morning I headed off by train from Zurich towards the mountains of Graubünden. I did my packing yesterday, straight after making the booking. That took a little time, because at our age you no longer just tuck your sleeping bag under your arm and set off. Marigold ointment for muscle twinges, pills for the arthritis if the ointment doesn't help, blister plasters, sunglasses and reading glasses, eye drops, millet pillow and all life's other essentials have to find their way into the suitcase.
And now here I am shaking hands with Adi, the guide for our hikes. He seems nice, like a cross between Heidi's grandfather and ski racer Didier Cuche with a Graubünden accent. Friendly. Next to him, Ingeborg and Klaus-Dieter Feldmann are rummaging in Klaus-Dieter's rucksack. They are looking for the binoculars, which they have probably left in the hotel room. Then there is Iris, squinting happily in the sunshine. Today, we are all in the "Red" summiteering group, hoping to climb the Seehorn together. The "Blue" hiking group has a less ambitious target. A nice circuit round the lake. Lots of fresh mountain air, plenty of sunshine, zero metres of vertical distance. I briefly ask myself whether Blue might not suit me better. But then we're off already.
We walk through dappled pine and larch woods up to the Drusatscha alpine pasture. Pleased with ourselves, we go on from there to Chaltboden (cold ground) which lives up to its name. We can feel a cool wind blowing from the Flüela valley. Iris, Ingeborg and I get out our windbreakers. Klaus-Dieter first grins mischievously, then gets out his hip flask. Under Ingeborg's warning eye, he sets to and takes a big swig of "Gletscherwasser" spirit. Then another. One too many for Ingeborg.
Luckily Adi has enough time on the way to the summit to smooth the waves caused by the Gletscherwasser. Iris and I bring up the rear. I like Iris. She tells me about her last yoga retreat in Bali. I look at her and can imagine her, silver hair flowing, greeting the sun over the Indian Ocean.
As supple as a cat. Somewhat ashamed, I think back to my own attempts at yoga and am glad that the wonderful view of Lake Davos soon wipes out the image. After three hours, we reach the top of the Seehorn. Exhilarated, we whoop down towards the village far below us. And soon enough we are back there. Then we raise a glass to a great day: Adi plays the guitar and Ines rocks back and forth to the music. Ingeborg and Klaus-Dieter drink to each other almost like new lovers.
And I share my summit selfie on Instagram. #silversurfer