Rail Journey through Switzerland Part 3: Zermatt

Rail Journey through Switzerland Part 3: Zermatt

Finally, the last part of my trip through Switzerland – more than a month after I came back :D.

We had a nice and relaxed train journey from Interlaken to Zermatt. The weather had changed completely, it was sunny and very warm. Our hotel in Zermatt was wonderful, we were warmly welcomed with a nice drink and we had  a beautiful room (with decorated wooden ceiling panels) with a perfect view of the Matterhorn.

The last time I was in Zermatt was Christmas 2006, when I went skiing with Paul (see here). It was fun to recognise places in a totally different season 😀

Zermatt and the river - it's really fast and loud! The view from our beautiful hotel room

We went for a short walk just out of Zermatt, but it was really warm (28 degrees) so we quickly abandoned our uphill path and didn’t venture very far. Zermatt is car-free, but there are lots of electric vehicles buzzing around, most of them owned by the hotels. The small town is almost entirely based on tourism. It’s also a real mountaineering base, of course for the Matterhorn but there are many other mountains over 4000 m around Zermatt. I took lots of photos of the Matterhorn, it’s such an iconic mountain 🙂

I took quite a few photos of the Matterhorn from our hotel room and combined them into this one photo :) I love this iconic mountain, which looks different all the time! The view at night... beautiful

The next day we took the Gornergratbahn which goes up to 3089 m. This time we had no issues at all with the altitude, Zermatt itself is at 1600 m so we must have become accustomed. My dad managed to walk into a glass panel though – thinking it was an open door – so perhaps he was still kind of influenced by the altitude 😉 Luckily this time we actually had a good view from the top!

At the top of the Gornergrat Bahn The Gornergrat train station

It was quite a circus at the top station, everybody was posing for pictures in front of the Matterhorn, and in addition there was a professional photographer with a St Bernard dog… He had a Japanese assistant (very clever), who would hold a cardboard shield in front of any camera that was illegally taking a photo of the St Bernard portraits 😀 It was quite fun to watch all this 😉

It was quite a circus at the station, with people posing for photos everywhere :D Some tourists made me giggle... I love people-watching in these kind of places

I love people-watching, playing “guess the nationality” and secretly taking photos of all the silly tourists 😉

Four old ladies on tour :) Can you guess the nationality? ;)

Including my dad of course, hehe.

Another crazy tourist posing for a photo ;) The Matterhorn reflected

There is a hotel/restaurant/observatory at the top, and great views of the Gorner Glacier.

The observatory at Gornergrat. I lost my dad just after taking this picture (can you find him?) He rushed inside to find wifi for his tablet :D Nice view over the Gorner glacier

Some more views of the glacier…

Gorner glacier and station Detail of the Gorner glacier

After a lot of searching, we finally spotted the new Monte Rosa Hut! It opened in 2010 and looks fantastic, a really modern building, with solar panels and its own water system. Inside it’s all wood 🙂 I’d really love to visit! You have to cross the glacier to get there though, so I’ll have to find out how difficult this is.

Can you spot the Monte Rosa Hut? It took us a while to find it! It looks incredible, I'd really like to stay there one day

After enjoying the view (and the free wifi :D) we took the train back to Zermatt, but got out at the Riffelalp station, which is situated at 2200 m. We walked from there to Sunnega, 7.5 km away and only about 100 m higher. Though as my dad will stress: we went up and down a lot, so the height difference of “only” 100 m is a bit misleading 😉

View towards Zermatt after we got off the train at Riffelalp Starting off on our hike

It was a beautiful hike. The first part went through the forest, with lots of hollow trees. We also found some words of wisdom on a bench 🙂

A piece of wisdom on a bench. It says something like: take a break, forget your worries, enjoy - you don't know if you're still here tomorrow Hollow tree

My dad kept saying he felt like he was walking around in a model-train landscape, and sometimes it really does look exactly like that!

With views like this, I understood why my dad kept saying he felt like he was inside a model-train-landscape My dad catching his breath for a moment

Of course there were lots of flowers around to take photos of…

Beautiful little rock plant This flower was huge! Another very big and colourful flower

About halfway we came passed a restaurant, a very welcome break. My dad had tomato soup and I had a pancake with warm cherries and ice cream, mmmmmm… 🙂

Lovely views all the way! And that restaurant in the background provided a well-deserved lunch break Tomato soup for my dad, a pancake with cherries and ice cream for me :D

At some point we crossed a river that comes from the glacier. In some of the nearby shallow (and still) pools, we found lots of tadpoles!

Another pretty stop on our hike Crossing a river, in some of the shallow bits of water we found lots of tadpoles! Leftovers from the glacier (I assume) - it looks like it might tumble down any moment, but there was actually a dirtroad going up this slope!

The Grindjisee – famous for its reflections of the Matterhorn, but it was getting cloudier and the reflections weren’t very spectacular.

The Grindjisee The Matterhorn seen from the Grindjesee - famous for the reflections, but with all the clouds, the reflections weren't very spectacular

A break between the flowers 🙂 and a very pretty lake further down.

Another short break between the flowers A small lake below - what an intense colour!

My dad was not so keen on the last part of the hike, where you had a relatively steep drop next to the narrow part. I didn’t even pay attention to it, but he was very relieved to reach the end of that path 😀 A little while later we reached Sunnega, from where we took an underground funicular railway back to Zermatt. What a nice day!

My dad told me later he found this path very scary, with the drop on the left... Relieved to have survived the scary path :D A final view of the Matterhorn from the Leisee, which was where our train departed back to Zermatt

The next morning it was time for a classic train trip: the Glacier Express from Zermatt to St. Moritz. A very beautiful train with big windows 🙂

The famous Glacier Express! Beautiful views, so nice to have such big windows on the train

It takes 7.5 hours and there is a lot to see on the way – spectacular bridges and loops, high passes… We really enjoyed it! Most people in our first class compartment were having lunch served at their place, but we only ordered a big piece of chocolate cake (we had brought our own lunch). The only down side of the Glacier Express is that none of the windows opens, with made it very hot at some point, and it also caused reflections in all the photos I took. The next day we backtracked along the most spectacular part on a regional train where the windows did open, so I got better photos the next day 🙂 These two photos show the famous Landwasser viaduct, which is 65 m high!

One of the famous bridges along the way, but the reflections in the window kept spoiling my photos Same bridge, taken the next day from a train where the windows opened :)

We got to St. Moritz in the early evening, but we were surprised to find that everything (shops, supermarkets) etc had already closed. Oh well. The next morning we got up early and started our journey back to the Netherlands. I had been a bit scared about this last day, as it was going to be a 15 hour journey, but the views were so beautiful that time passed very quickly.

Beautiful views from the train. I opened the window and you could smell flowers and freshly mown grass, and feel the warm wind... so relaxing Our train passing another bridge... bye bye Switzerland, hope to be back soon!

Our trip went like clockwork all the way until the Dutch border – there we were thrown out of our train because of “technical problems” and we had to continue by regional trains with a few changes. We finally made it back home at midnight…

What a journey! I enjoyed this week in Switzerland a LOT and I am so happy my dad and I had the opportunity to go on this trip. I also rediscovered how much I love Switzerland, and I hope to come back soon 🙂

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