Happy Mean Girls day. We spent the past weekend in Zermatt, which is where the Matterhorn is. That, in addition to the fact that the town is picture perfect, means that we essentially spent another weekend in Disneyland.
We got into Zermatt late Friday night after a three hour train ride from Basel. We got in so late that they had to leave a key for us at our hotel so we could check in. The cool thing was that it was just dark enough that you could see the outline of the Matterhorn even at midnight.
After waking up to a perfect view of the Matterhorn and the sounds of the Valais sheep hanging outside of our window below and then immediately causing a ruckus at breakfast (99% me), we made our way into town to catch the cogwheel train up to Gornergrat. It’s about a forty minute ride up, during which you essentially make your way up the mountain and winding your way around the Matterhorn. Once you get all the way up, you get spectacular views of the Alps. You’re also high enough that you can see snow. You expect to see it, but it’s still kind of weird.
We climbed up to the observatory for a little bit to take some goofy Instagram-worthy photos of each other with the great views behind us. You even a get view of what I am now calling my okapi pants.
After our mountaintop photo shoot was completed, we did a somewhat impromptu hike down the mountain. We weren’t really wearing the right shoes, so we lasted about an hour (ish) of the hike. Chris was wearing worse shoes for the hike than I was (I was at least in running shoes). The views were spectacular and I was sore from this hike longer than I was sore from the half marathon.
We made it to the next train station down the mountain before deciding that it was time to call it a day with the hike. I saw a lake a little further down the mountain and could tell it was a good photo op, so I made the very painful hike down the mountain while Chris waited up top. I think Chris missed out on the amazing view of the Matterhorn reflected in the lake, but I guess he also didn’t have to hike back up that portion of the mountain and he certainly didn’t almost fall into said lake while trying to take the photo.
We dragged ourselves back up to the train station just in time for the train to get there. It was almost one by that time and we were pretty hungry. We saw a few restaurants the next train stop down the mountain, so got off there. Unfortunately, those restaurants weren’t open since they were closed for off-season. We knew there was a restaurant at the top of Gornergrat, so we got on the next train up to try to eat there. Unfortunately, the ticket only works once, so we had to turn around and get back on the train down.
We were about one stop away from the starting station but ended up going on a truly impromptu hike. The problem was that I had been reading about some great restaurants in Findeln, which is a little higher than Zermatt. I got the names mixed up and dragged Chris off the train stop at Findelbach, where there most definitely were not restaurants. We decided to just hike down to town instead of wait for the next train. It didn’t look that far, at least. There was a nice waterfall and the views of Zermatt weren’t too bad either.
Eventually, we did make it down to Zermatt. We were pretty tired and hungry by that point, so we ended up at a pub of all places for lunch (Brown Cow). A lot of people seemed to rave about the burgers there. We both got the Zermatt burger (cheese and bacon), which was quite delicious. Between the burgers, the beer, the fact that they were playing Tallest Man on Earth and the soccer on TV, we were quite happy.
We dragged ourselves back up to our hotel and recovered from hiking for a while. We also tried out the sauna at our hotel, which reminded me of the height of the summer here in Basel. It felt pretty nice though and, somehow, worked up our appetite for dinner, where we went back into town for Swiss food. We got fondue, of course. I’ve also found out that it’s not gross to eat the crispy cheese at the bottom of the pot (Chris and I call it the cheese nurenji), so I felt somewhat vindicated. At least, that’s what the internet says.
Our initial plan for Sunday was to try out the mountain carts, so we could channel our inner Mario Kart characters. We ate breakfast, checked out, stored our stuff in the train station lockers, and made our way up hill to what we thought was the station that would get us up the mountain to the mountain carts. Unfortunately, we found out when we got to the cable car station that we went to the station on the wrong side of town. We were hit by a wave of laziness mixed with the soreness from the hikes from the day before and just decided that we would take a trip up Klein Matterhorn instead.
The tickets to get up the Klein Matterhorn are not cheap (thanks, Half Fare Card), but half of the adventure is the trip up. It takes a cable car and two very pack gondola rides to make it to the top of the mountain. Along the way, you pass by Gornergrat and realize how insanely high you actually are.
We were a little light headed by the time we got to the top. We also very much underestimated how cold it’d be on top and were probably not adequately dressed for it. We managed, though. We spent a minute or two in the cinema space, where you can watch videos of the area while sitting in little eggs, before we made our way to the observation deck. Unfortunately, the clouds had come in to cover what would have been a fantastic view of the Matterhorn, but it didn’t cover all the views.
Klein Matterhorn was a little more focused on skiers, which neither of us are, and the glacier attraction was closed, so we didn’t end up spending too much time on top. We hung around the gift shop and walked around a little more before heading back down to Zermatt.
We made it with enough time to take the train back that we wanted to take, so we grabbed some kebabs from a local kebab shop and made our way to the train station.
This time around, we got to enjoy the views on the train between Zermatt and Visp that we missed on the way up to Zermatt, which meant more cows, sheep, and mountain views. The downside of the train ride is that it’s a little rickety.
All in all, our trip to Zermatt was kind of fantastic. The town truly is like a little Alpine Disneyland and things aren’t cheap there (even in off-season), but the views were quite spectacular. It’d be nice to see the area covered in snow, but I appreciated the mild crowds and the bearable weather at the end of the day.