Hi Forum folks, here is part 3 of my trip to Switzerland,
Day 5: Today we did two excrusions: Kleine Matterhorn (Glacier Paradise) and the Gornergrat. Weather was spectacular. A tad bit hazy at times but sunny the whole day. After about a ten minute walk from Hotel Welschen, (located steps from the funnicular to Sunnegga) to the southern end of town where the cable cars go up to the mountains, I got on the gondola to the Klein Matterhorn. I believe it was 50 Fr, with my Swiss Travel Pass discount.
For anyone not familiar with how the gondola’s work (I’m not sure the difference between gondola’s and cable cars, trams, etc.), it basically looks like a skyway ride at an amusement park. The difference being that this one takes people up to 10 or 12 thousand feet peaks. In this case, it goes first to Furi, where one can get off or stay on and continue, as I did to Schwarzee, which is at ten thousand feet. Again, the doors open, and one can get off or stay on. I chose to stay on and continued to to Trockener Steg. At this point the gondola ends and transfers to the bigger tram that goes to the Glacier Paradise itself at just under 13000 feet. Here one goes through tunnel, passing a section with hanging chairs in a movie type set-up to watch, I assume, some film of the Glacier Paradise. I didn’t stay, as I continued to go to an elevator which takes one up to the highest point here to an observation deck. Simply stunning. A 360 degree panorama of the Matterhorn, all the 14000 ft. peaks, Italy, and a great view of the Gornergrat, which was my next destination.
After coming down from the observation deck, I went through the glacier itself which had some beautiful carvings, on the way to the other side, where one can ski, as some were doing. I then went into the restaurant, which is basically a cafeteria style, and had myself a beer, as I pretty much pledged to do so on every peak I visited. The view of the Matterhorn is completely different from what anyone is used to. The reason being that the gondola’s and cable car passes it to the south. Almost all pictures people are used to are taken from the north. Not all, mind you, but most, some being from the east. There was a lot of construction going on when I was there as they are trying to complete a new cable way to be open this ski season, as I understood. The weather was cool, but not cold. Very comfortable. I was in shorts, but had a sweatshirt on and was very comfortable. (I left 92 degree weather in NY, so I was in my glory as far as weather.) There was also a souvenir shop to browse through. All told, I was glad I went, but I was more impressed with the Gornergrat later on in the day.
I can only imagine this must be a fantastic place in the winter for skiing. I am not a skier, which is why I chose September for my journey. I was very conscious of the altitude and moved very slowly so as not to induce any altitude sickness, or dizziness of any kind. (That’s what the beer is for….). So, after about an hour or so up there, I boarded the tram back to Trockener Steg. Switched to the gondola and had a nice ride back to the Schwarzee station. In the summer months I could have taken a cable car/gondola to switch to the Gornergrat. I did get off at Schwarzee and walk around a bit. I did not go to the lake, only because I wanted to get to the Gornergrat. So, after several pictures, I got back on the gondola and made my way back to town. After having a hot dog in town, I went to the Gornergarat, which is located right across from the train station. I believe that cost 38 FR, with the STP.
I have to recommend the Gornergrat to anyone who visits Zermatt!! When I was here as a youngster, my family and I went on the trip up to the Gornergrat, but, unfortunately it was cloudy. (We didn’t see the Matterhorn for two days). I was taken aback at the spectacular scenery that we never got to see so many years ago. Simply unbelievable. The cog railroad makes about 5 stops on the way up, and its approximately 45 minutes to the top. Wow!!!! I stayed up there for close to two and a half hours, figuring that the sun was going to set and I was actually going to be there for it. Can’t say that to often. One of the best sunsets I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. I only wish I was computer savvy enough to attach some photo’s, but I am unable to do so. (Too old, I guess…). The glacier on one side, the lake down below on the other side make for some unbelievable, non-stop scenery. There is hiking to do up there as well. There is a hotel, a snack bar/cafeteria as well, where I was able to enjoy my beer. All this while the Matterhorn is straight ahead, it doesn’t get any better.
So, after the sun went down, so did I. The last cog railway down from there is 2300 hrs., though I didn’t wait that long. What a way to spend the day. Again, I can’t recommend this enough to anyone wanting to spend time in Zermatt. When I got back into town I had the first fondue of my trip at the Zermatterstubli, on the main street a bit up from the train station on the way towards the church. Very good choice to end a spectacular day. That and a few beverages at Gee’s and on to another day…
Day 6: Well, what a way to spend ones birthday. Unfortunately, I had to depart Zermatt, with a heavy heart, as my train journey continued and took me to Montreux. After switching trains in Visp (or Brig, not sure), the train ride to Aigle was quite beautiful. A lot of flatlands, passing all sorts of vineyards, chateau’s, and the Les Diablerets mountains, of which I intended to be on the other side of. My intent was to leave my big bag at the train station in Aigle, taking my go-everywhere-bag (nap-sack) with me to the Glacier 3000. Unfortunately, the locker was about two inches short of letting me get it in, so I had to drag my bag to the Glacier 3000. After the beautiful climb through the mountains and villages on the 3-car-train to Les Diablerets, the end of that line, I waited for what seemed like forever (probably about half an hour), the bus finally came and took me about 6 stops to the last few kilometers to Col du Pillon. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, there is a little café adjacent to the cable car up to the Glacier 3000. I guess it worked out for the better that the last cable car just went over my head as I arrived. See, the last bus back to the last train was in about 40 minutes from then. So, seeing as how I just missed it, the next best thing to do was to have a beer at the café. Me, my big bag, and my go-everywhere-bag sitting at the little café waiting for the last bus back.
So, back to Aigle, and a ten minute ride into Montreux, where I checked into Hotel Parc et Lac for the overnight. The hotel was perfect for a short overnight stay to get me to the Golden Pass line the next morning. The timing was perfect, as out the window was a picture-perfect sunset over Lec Leman. What a beautiful sight to be seen after the long day of missing the Peak Walk on Glacier 3000. Montreux was very warm. The hottest on my trip so far. So, out to the lake-front I wandered, in search of the Freddie Mercury statue, passing a duo singing Beatles songs (that I could hear from my room) and about 300 meters away was Freddie. The rest of the night was spent walking around, eating in a panini shop, and searching for the Irish pub I had seen on the google maps during my planning stages. I found it and enjoyed the rest of my birthday there.
Day 7: Well, the weather on this morning was very comfortable. A beautiful coolness to it, contrasting the night before. I stowed the big bag in the hotel, checked-out, and walked along the lake, bought some souvenirs and found a nice café to eat right next to the ferry landing. The weather was fantastic, and I didn’t want to leave here either. Just lazing at the café enjoying Montreux. People watching, sipping my coffee, loving every minute of my trip so far. On to the train station, 5 minutes away, dragging the bag along the cobblestone street, which was challenging (good thing for wheels). The Golden Pass was a brilliant ride. Met some nice people on board and had a wonderful ride to Interlaken.
Leaving Montreux, climbing the mountains, switching back and forth, was simply stunning. In all the brochures it is said the descent from Gstaad to Montreux is one of the most beautiful rides in the country. I did the opposite direction, and it is true. Highly recommended to take the Golden Pass route. Relaxing, scenic, just beautiful passing Gstaad, and all the villages on the way to Interlaken. Unfortunately, the closer we got to Interlaken, the cloudier it became, even raining in some spots. My destination was Wengen for 3 nights, but I also wanted to see the lakes. Since I couldn’t check into my hotel until 1600 hrs., I decided to put the bag into a locker, (which fit here) and got a bite to eat while waiting for the 1810 departure on the ferry. It did rain very lightly, but not for long as we departed Interlaken West for the Thunersee. The boat was very relaxing, just like the train earlier, but more space to walk around and stretch my legs some. The clouds helped make for some pretty scenery, with the sun peeking through in and around the mountains on the far side of the lake. After about 5, maybe 6 stops, I got off in Spiez and walked, mostly up-hill, to the train station where I went back to Interlaken, picked up the bag and went to Interlaken Ost, for the train to Lauterbrunnen. When I, (and several people from the boat who all walked together to the train in Spiez) got to the station, the skies opened up and poured rain just as we got under the shelter at the station…perfect timing on that. At this point I was starting to get a bit worried because check-in was between 1600 and 2200 hrs. So, off to Lauterburnnen and ultimately Wengen, where I made the check-in with 40 minutes to spare. After checking in, I went to one of the bars that I saw on google maps while doing my planning for my trip. (Google maps, by the way is a great tool for planning also. Between that and Myswissalps, I really didn’t need much else. Maps also has train schedules if you click on the train the little bus, or train, or boat icons….) So then I called it a night in Wengen at the Hotel & Spa Victoria- Lauberhorn. This hotel Is about ten meters from the train station. Fantastic hotel. Wonderful staff, lot to do there, will stay there again…
More to follow in Part 4