18 day trip to Switzerland December 2017 - part 4

18 day trip to Switzerland December 2017 - part 4

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longservice
longservice
24 posts
new member
Jan 21, 2018 - 5:34 AM

Upon disembarking from the Glacier Express at Zermatt, our Hotel shuttle was waiting for us at the station, and within a matter of minutes the electric vehicle speedily delivered us to our Hotel. Zermatt is promoted as being a carless town….. and yes this is true. But by goodness there are an awful lot of these electric vehicles buzzing to and fro about the place, and whenever we were walking about I found it to be a constant requirement to keep ones wits about them as these “quiet” little vehicles seemed to suddenly appear from nowhere as they literally seemed to own the place. All the same, it is a pleasure to be able to walk so freely about the township knowing that to some extent people still had the right of way.

We loved Zermatt. It’s quaint and small, easy to get around, and even though the snow was piled up everywhere and quite a few of the streets had turned to slush and ice, it just seemed to have a genuinely cosy feel about it. We found that souvenirs were well priced compared to some other cities we had visited and we made a few different purchases for the family back home while we were there. For a long time now, as we have travelled to different places around the globe, I have always attempted to purchase a key-ring from every place we visit. They are small, easy to pack, and hang nicely on my office wall back home as a small memento of the places we have travelled. I try to find something a little different or uniquely specific to the location if I can, rather than just purchasing your typical “generic” garden variety. Not always possible of course, but we try. This just helps to make my collection a little more varied and a little more interesting. So I was pretty happy to find that Zermatt seemed to have a reasonable variety of key-rings rather than just the usual one or two at most.

We had booked a room with a view of the Matterhorn, and early on our first morning we pulled back the blinds to reveal a glorious view of snow covered buildings and streets, but nothing but clouds surrounded the mountains and of course the Matterhorn as well. However, as we sat there watching the cloud formations come and go, suddenly there it was in all its majesty and glory, and it felt like we could almost reach out and touch it, it was so close. Surely there was no better Hotel view anywhere on earth.? Watching it was mesmerising. We have not had the heart to turn the television on since. (True story)

While we were on the Glacier Express, we were able to pre-purchase tickets to Gornergrat (available for use on any day we chose) and so rather than have to queue up the following day, we were able to just pick our time and walk straight past the queues and be waiting in line the moment the doors opened. We deliberately chose the 12:24pm train as the forecast seemed to indicate that the skies would clear about this time of the day and this offered our best chance of having a clear view once we climbed out of the valley. The ride did not disappoint in terms of view, and I worked my camera over time trying to capture both video and photos.

It’s always difficult taking pictures through a train window and the reflections are a nuisance of course. In general, I have found that video works better than still shots. This is because when viewing a moving picture, it is easier to visually and psychologically place oneself in the position of the lens, and even if there is some reflection it seems reasonable and expected because your mind and eyes adjust to the awareness of the physical surroundings in which the moving picture has been taken. But window reflection in a still photo is just annoying and nothing else. But, sometimes there’s always that shot you just have to attempt, and I have generally found that by pressing the camera lens hood close to the window itself in a dark area of the window that doesn’t have too much reflection, and then tilting/angling the lens in order to get the best shot (looking at the camera screen, and not through the viewfinder) has worked for me reasonably well in most cases. I have even surprised myself at some of the shots I have been able to take even from a fast moving train using this method.

The journey itself to Gornergrat in my opinion, is equally as good as any of the other mountain journeys we have taken (including Jungfraujoch) and offers its own unique qualities along the way, as well as the views at the summit, and therefore well worth the expense. I never seem to tire of these excursions. To me the journey is everything and not just the destination, so whether one gets a wonderful view at the top, or is met with nothing other than a mass of white fog and cloud, I would still not rue the fact that I made the attempt.

The experiences and memories of the trip are still savoured every time. It always amazes me how much the people we meet on board, or at the restaurant, or in the lift, contribute to the journey itself, and become an integral part of the narrative and the story we tell and retell our family and friends when we get back home.

In our carriage there was a party of approx. 10 people who had paid only for as far as Kleine Scheidegg, but had remained on board and continued up the mountain with no ticket. When approached by the conductor, their rudeness and intimidation of the female conductor was shameful to say the least. I was so impressed with the way she held her composure as she repeated over and over their need to pay the full price, calmly explaining all the details which I am confident they already knew, yet sniggering and laughing amongst themselves. They shamefully tried at first to argue their way out of it and when that failed, they tried to convince the conductor that they were worthy of a discount.!!

On the other hand, as my wife alighted form this train at Gornergrat and had passed through the gates, she suddenly realised she had left her beanie/hat on the seat. As she hurriedly tried to figure out how to get back to the train, she approached an attendant quickly explaining her predicament, and in a flash the attendant opened one of the gates and assisted her to locate her hat and then see that she was safely returned to the “other side” where her husband was still waiting and wondering.!!

As I have said in earlier posts, in our 18 days of travel through Switzerland, we were tremendously blessed weather wise. Whenever we seemed to need a clear day…. There it was.!! When what would have just made the day was snow and more snow….. There it was.!! Gornergrat for us was no exception, the sun was in full swing at the top, assisting us to cope with the low temperatures, and the pictures I was able to obtain of the Matterhorn as the cloud moved away were simply amazing.

Our journey from Zermatt back to Geneva was a pleasant one, changing trains in Visp. (where a fellow passenger attempted to physically hold back the train – see previous post part 2) We returned to Geneva for one night only, just to do some last minute shopping and re-pack our suitcases and prepare for the flights back home to Australia. Since arriving back home, I have edited quite a lot of video and many many photos, and every time we look at them, we eventually end up discussing whether we should from here ever after, simply abandon all other destinations on our fascinating planet and just keep returning to Switzerland, because put quite simply, it has been one of the most enjoyable holidays we have ever experienced.

A big thank you once again to “My Swiss Alps” for all of their wisdom and invaluable information that we have gleaned from their website. If you are considering a similar journey, the only thing I can say is that I strongly believe you will not be disappointed.

A few final pics below for those interested

Wonderful travels to all....

Kind Regards

Longservice

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Lucas
Lucas
5662 posts
expert &
moderator
Jan 21, 2018 - 10:33 AM in reply to longservice

Thanks Longservice, a great final trip report.

I often think that when a train conductors day at the office is good, it's really good. When it is bad...it is really bad.

Happy future travels!

maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
552 posts
top member
Jan 21, 2018 - 6:13 PM in reply to longservice

Hi again longservice

Enjoyed reading your last report. Our first trip to Switzerland was a package tour which included 3 nights in Zermatt and we found it quite enchanting. We have returned quite a few times on day trips from Thun and like the Gornergrat excursion very much. I have pictures of the Matterhorn on bright sunny days and days when it was almost out of sight behind clouds! Your pictures are really great. Thanks for your tips about taking photos from a moving train!

I get quite cross when I see how badly some people treat the train personnel because they are so brilliant at their job and so eager to help if you have a problem (like your beanie!)

I appreciate your inclination to make Switzerland your future holiday destination "for ever" as that is what we have indeed done! We often manage a short trip to other destinations in Europe (easier for us from UK obviously) but our main annual holiday has for 17 years been in Switzerland and we still haven't visited all the places we want to go to!

I am sure your excellent reports will have enthused and helped others so thank you again.

Maggie

Last modified on Jan 21, 2018 - 6:15 PM by maggiehorswell
Pickergal
Pickergal
49 posts
active member
Jan 21, 2018 - 8:30 PM

Longservice,

Thank you for a wonderful trip report. We loved Zermatt as well. I have to agree with you, you win for the best view of the Matterhorn from your hotel. What spectacular pictures!!!!! We were in Zermatt in September and we hardly saw any vehicles at all. I wonder if that is because we were there in much warmer weather than you.

I was confused about one thing in your trip report. Kleine Scheidegg, I believe is on the way to the Jungfraujoch, not on the Gornergrat journey. I only mention this because I know how much I relied on these trip reports to put our trip together so I wouldn't want to lead anyone astray. I also know how easy it is to get all the wonderful things you did on your trip mixed up because I do it all the time.

We feel the same way you do. It is hard getting enthused by other locations after visiting Switzerland. We may become llifers too!

longservice
longservice
24 posts
new member
Jan 22, 2018 - 12:00 AM in reply to Pickergal

Hi Pickergal,

Thank you for your comments, and yes you are correct, Kleine Scheidegg is indeed on the way to Jungfraujoch. Re-reading my post I can see I did not make that very clear when mentioning the two incidences. The party of 10 who attempted to travel without tickets was an incident that occurred on our Jungfraujoch excursion and the incident with my wife's beanie took place on the excursion to Gornergrat. Sorry for any confusion.

Very interesting that you hardly saw any vehicles at all in Zermatt as they were certainly out in force in December during our time there. Perhaps this may be due to the greater difficulty for travellers to walk with their bags in the snow and ice, so more vehicles were on the roads ferrying travellers about..? I have no idea really. Either way, it did not detract from a wonderful stay in Zermatt.

Regards

Longservice.

longservice
longservice
24 posts
new member
Jan 22, 2018 - 12:07 AM in reply to maggiehorswell

Hi Maggie,

Thank you for your comments. The Matterhorn is fascinating to watch and frustrating too.... it often appeared to have but a small amount of cloud that we were always sure would pass and be gone in 3-4 minutes enabling us to take the "perfect picture".... only to watch that cloud grow in size or be replaced with more. I almost convinced myself it was in fact a chimney of sorts.... and would always constantly billow out smoke just to tease the viewers.

Kind Regards

Longservice

rockoyster
rockoyster
3409 posts
expert
Jan 22, 2018 - 6:55 AM in reply to longservice

Hi longservice,

Another great report. As with others the Kleine Scheidegg incident stopped me in my tracks until I realised it was a flashback. A common device in modern story-telling. 🤓

Super photos. You have a talent for it.

Your "I have edited quite a lot of video and many many photos, and every time we look at them, we eventually end up discussing whether we should from here ever after, simply abandon all other destinations on our fascinating planet and just keep returning to Switzerland" reflects exactly our sentiments. Although I readily admit you have a better way with words.

Thanks for sharing your experiences.

All the best.

rockoyster
rockoyster
3409 posts
expert
Jan 22, 2018 - 10:08 AM in reply to longservice

Hi longservice,

Supplementary question. Just out of interest what camera do you use for your travels?

longservice
longservice
24 posts
new member
Jan 22, 2018 - 11:28 AM in reply to rockoyster

Hi Rockoyster,

Yes you hit the nail on the head in regard to the flashback of our Jungfraujoch excursion while writing about the Gornergrat excursion. I re-read my post several times before posting it, but each time I fell for the common proof readers error of overlooking crucial facts due to personal familiarity with the story. Because I knew what I meant, I just didn't pick up that I had failed to mention the correct location of my flashback. Very humbling indeed, being the son of an old school linotype operator who was paid to proofread.!!

I had purchased a new camera only a few months prior to this trip, a Nikon D7500 and I also purchased a Tamron 18-400 lens. The D7500 has 4K video which is absolutely spectacular and the Tamron 18-400 is the only lens I carried the whole trip. It is reasonably light for its size, and has an incredible reach. I have never been happier than I have been with this camera and lens combination, and though I do have an assortment of other lenses, gone are the days where I have the desire to carry extra weight, having already accumulated enough of that physically about my waistline.!!

I really should also add however, that the Pacsafe Camsafe Venture 16 Slingpack that I purchased several years ago would have to be one of the best purchases I have ever made for travel. Doubling as a small backpack and camera pack, its design enables you to simply swing it in front of you revealing a padded base compartment accessed from the side, that fits the camera and attached said lens perfectly. The pack still has more compartments useful for carrying various other things and is small enough to slide under the seat in front of me on most aeroplanes without restricting my legroom. (I am 6ft) I use it every time I travel, including for work trips. (pics below) I believe it has now been superceded by a two strap model which is a shame as it is the sling operation that enables such easy access and smooth convenience.

Kind Regards

Longservice.

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rockoyster
rockoyster
3409 posts
expert
Jan 22, 2018 - 9:25 PM

Hi longservice,

Green with envy. You have the latest version of my venerable D7000.

I didn’t take it with me on our Swiss Trip but relied instead on a small pocketable Sony point-and-click superzoom. The results came out not too bad I think (flickr.com/photos/6400 7154@N00/sets/72157682 761524252).

Thanks for the link to the sling. That looks great. My “holster” of choice for the Nikon is the Capture Click Pro (www.peakdesign.com/cap ture/) although I only have the V1.

Some people can get carried away. goo.gl/images/UK31xf 😎

longservice
longservice
24 posts
new member
Jan 24, 2018 - 11:13 AM in reply to rockoyster

Hi rockoyster,

Loved your photos- there's a fair bit of travel gone into getting those - Very Impressed.

But...... first prize has to go to the camera toting shutter slinging guy who is ready and prepared for anything in his field of view..!!! Love it.

Kind Regards

Longservice.

Adelaidean
Adelaidean
103 posts
active member
Jan 27, 2018 - 3:56 AM in reply to rockoyster

Thanks for the link to your flickr album, rockoyster, have enjoyed seeing some new places and revisiting others as we swelter here in Adelaide 😀

rockoyster
rockoyster
3409 posts
expert
Jan 27, 2018 - 4:02 AM in reply to Adelaidean

No worries. Even hot here in Tassie tomorrow. Well 36°C which I is guess is mild by your standards. 😎

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