The town of zermatt
Have you ever wondered why Swiss chocolate taste so darn good? Well after three countries…England, France, and Spain (four if you include our blip two hour stopover in Abu Dhabi on the way), we have arrived in Switzerland and I finally think I have found the answer. My theory as to how the Swiss get their chocolate to taste so good is that oxidisation occurs when oxygen gets to stuff, and Switzerland (at least the parts we went) have much lower oxygen therefore lower oxidisation of their chocolate, right??? Okay so my theory isn’t exactly scientifically proven but I can tell you that the chocolate is amazing – if you come to visit bring lots of money for chocolate.
THE TRAIN TRIP THERE
You should probably bring lots of money for everything really, not just chocolate, if you go to one of the small towns like Zermatt. You wont be able to just wing it in regards to cost here if you want to eat well – there is a McDonalds much to my disgust, but that wasn’t even an option so one of the evenings we bought some stuff and cooked it in our apartment. We were lucky to be upgraded to a larger apartment due to overbooking and the fact we were a family, and all at no extra cost. It was lovely because from our bed we had views of the mountains and from the wrap around balcony we had views of the Matterhorn.
Everything is super expensive here in Zermatt and rightly so since it isn’t exactly the easiest place to transport goods to, particularly with the fact that there are absolutely no cars in Zermatt. The only form of transport in Zermatt is via electric bus or electric taxi, and let me tell you the electric taxi will cost you your pension plan. It does make it quite quaint and quiet (hello…that’s alot of Q’s ha!), with no noisy traffic and everyone walking everywhere….really really slowly. If you live at zero altitude by the ocean you soon realise how thing the air is (lower oxygen concentration) when you begin to exert yourself up hills dragging your luggage, hence why everyone walks slowly. I managed to wrap a scarf around my face though so that the air I breathed in was warmer and thus reduces the effects of the low oxygen. I feel grateful that we only really had to buy one pair of gloves in Zermatt though, because most gloves began at the tidy price of 99 Swiss Francs which is quite expensive in Aussie dollars! It felt quite cold there and we were told by locals that it is worse when it is high humidity because of the moisture in the air, and that during winter when temperatures reach a scary -14 degrees Celsius it is nicer and you don’t have to rug up quite so much.
We had a lovely vegetarian burger for dinner at one of the pubs there on the first night and shared our table with an South African couple that needed somewhere to sit…love hearing other peoples travel stories, and the next morning we planned to go up Klein Matterhorn (which is some ridiculously high altitude compared to the 1600+ metres of Zermatt). When we woke the next morning we were tired, a couple of us had headaches, and I was struggling to breathe, which were sure indicators of altitude sickness. This made our mind up that we should only go to one of the lower mountains and we decided on Gornergrat which is over 3000m high. The trip up was spectacular and we coped with the ascent quite well. It amazed me how many hikers we saw on the way up although they all were walking very slowly and with hiking poles and way more appropriate clothing than us.
TOP OF GORNERGRAT MOUNTAIN
At the top both hubby and I were brought to tears in our eyes with gratitude that we were fortunate to experience this amazing thing, and more than that – we were able to bring our girls to experience it too. There was snow everywhere and the Matterhorn stood boldly in front of us as our eyes tried to take in all the breathtaking scenery before us. We did brave a walk down the track a reasonable way and headstrong me thought that would be a great idea. Poor Mackenzie burst into tears and eventually told us it was because there was no snow within reach (much was a walk away to get to), but luckily after a little further we got to some little patches of snow – enough to throw some snow balls at each other! The joy on my kids faces was priceless, and the joy on my husbands face to be able to experience the Swiss Alps warmed my heart. Neither my husband or I have ever travelled overseas before so this trip has been amazing with the things we have seen and done.
We started our walk back up (toilet breaks were in need), and it was then that we realised how hard it was to breathe in this altitude with less that 12 hours conditioning. I in particular really struggled with it, and hubby said he really felt it every time he tried to exert energy (not surprising since he has a low Hb anyway and gets dizzy just standing up sometimes). So it was a very very slow walk back up to the top, enough that I had to stop for a moment and chill out on a rock (which by the way all kind of sparkle in the sunlight like glittering silver, gold, blue and bronze). We eventually got back up and decided we needed to replenish….
OUR VIEW FROM THE RESTAURANT
Lunch was at Vis a Vis – the restaurant at the top of Gornergrat and we had a delish lunch and dessert with exceptional views of the mountains and snow. We climbed the last little bit to the lookout at the top and spent some time up there just taking in the scenery. Whilst up there Mackenzie turned and said to me “mum, when I grow up I want to be a Rock Artist” – although I thought she was talking about a Rock Music Artist I soon realised that she was in fact talking about art made with rocks when I saw the hand full of little rocks she was carrying. So adorable she created her very own little cave that she was so proud of, and the girls both added to the rock piles that were created by other people, with their own. Laurens was quite impressive until she made one last addition that toppled the whole thing.
We really enjoyed our time in Switzerland and will definitely make a point of spending Christmas there in what will be like a winter wonderland worthy of a Frozen movie set. Although we loved it, Venice was waiting for us and we had to board the train for our five hour trip to get there (thank heavens for first class).
Snow or sand? What do you prefer?