Monday, September 14, 2009

King of Switzerland's peaks: The Matterhorn

Last week my family was in town, and I took it upon myself to have a mini blogging-break so that I had time to enjoy my time with them and also plenty of time to explore all the wonders that Switzerland has to offer. Thanks again to everyone's advice on where to go. We took a lot of it on board and I look forward to telling you what we got up to over the next few days... first up - ZERMATT & the Matterhorn!

We left Zurich on Saturday morning around 9 am and traveled via train to Zermatt (the most direct route is about 3.25 hours over Visp). The scenery along the way is stunning, of course, and hence the time went by quickly. As my family was traveling on a Swiss Pass, all train travel over the 8 days they visited was included in the pass. Great bargain! And we started our journey in Zermatt as we had reservations the next day with the Glacier Express from Zermatt to St. Moritz. More on that tomorrow!

After a quick lunch in Zermatt - a tourist trap city with few permanent residents but packed with tourists - we headed for the Gornergrattbahn, a scenic train ride lasting just 29 minutes that takes you up Gornergratt for one of the most stunning views of the Matterhorn. The tickets for this train are not cheap - we paid CHF 76 return for the two of us - and that was with the half-fare card! Luckily, the SwissPass also got my guests half price as well - but it was well worth it for the stunning views from the top. The trains run about every 20 minutes and the ticket office and loading zone is directly across from the Zermatt main train station. You cannot miss it. (Ps. Zermatt is a car free city! Oh yeah... others that do not need a car in Switzerland! So if you drive, you have to park in Täsch and take the commuter rail into Zermatt...)

Once at the top, we were greeted with a beautifully clear day and the magnificent Matterhorn in the distance. Actually the views from Gornergratt in every direction are pretty inspiring - full of mountains, lakes, glaciers, and mountain goats! Don't take my word for it though - check out these photos from the top of the world:

As we were waiting for the train to go back down to Zermatt, we spotted these mountain goats, coming to get something out of this container - we think it might have been salt. And if you thought mountain goats were agile before, check out how precariously this little guy is perched above the mountainous cavern below! (Ps. if this is not a goat - please tell me what it is...thanks!)

Top left - See that white speck - next to that, that is him!

Again! Top left is the goat... WOW! How do they do it?!
There were other creatures up top, too - strange creatures these... they have six legs! :):

There were also some bees up top at 3000 meters, buzzing around the only flowers seen for miles. Crazy bees. No wonder they are all dying off...

After walking all around and taking about 4.2 million photos, we were in need of some refreshment - and despite the onset of a cold (typical eh, as soon as visitors come!) I could not help myself and Jace and I enjoyed some local beer and a plate of meat and cheese from the region at the cafe/hotel on the summit. Yum!

Make sure you bring a jacket to the top with you - as it is much cooler up top than down below, despite the direct sun. Oh and don't forget that sunscreen. Slip, slop, slap ya'll.
It was the start of a great Swiss adventure - first the Matterhorn, then THE WORLD....! Ok, so then the rest of Switzerland... ;) More on that coming soon! But I would highly recommend a trip to Zermatt. It is the pinnacle of Swiss tourism and well worth the visit to see this majestic mountain in all its glory.

Stay tuned for more Swiss Adventures from my September 2009 Swiss Tour... including the Glacier Express, St. Moritz, Appenzell and more!
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mrsmac said...

We loved Zermatt, our first trip after moving to CH! Did you hike at all while there?

Audrey said...

Just saw Monte Cervino (Matterhorn) from the Italian side this weekend! While not immediately recognizable, definitely dramatic. I'll be blogging that day soon. Happy to hear you had a blog break to hang with the fam. :-) (Also, Monte Bianco/Mont Blanc is an incredible site from both the Italian and French sides... we're in Geneva now, and I don't think it's still visible. Have you seen that one?)

Susan said...

I'm glad you had such a beautiful day, and great views of the Matterhorn. You should go back in about a month - it's even better with some snow!

I love Zermatt - it's touristy-ness appeals to me!

Can't wait to hear about the rest of your travels with the fam.

Irene of American in Padua said...

I saw Monte Cervino (Matterhorn) from the Italian side, too, this summer. Thank you for bringing back the memories. I saw it while on top of Monte Rosa-an amazing experience. My husband and I are considering climbing Cervino in the future....wish us luck.

Emily S. said...

Excellent pictures, Jessica! Makes me really want to go there. And yes, those goats are skillful!


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