The other side of Zermatt
I arrived at the gondola in Zermatt with my skis, poles and helmet to be greeted by this sign:
“Kein Skibetrieb/nur für Fussgänger gestattet”
Or in plain English, “No skiing/pedestrians only”. I think I cursed.
It was a long weekend in the making. Not only because I left before daylight swept across London on Friday morning, but because I had planned this for a few months, and rain and high winds had not featured. At all.
For years, Zermatt, Switzerland had been on my ‘to do’ list. And with the Matterhorn glacier open all-year-round, it seemed like an excellent place to carve some lines during my normal snow-free summer. Obviously not.
Undeterred, I walked slowly back to Hotel Jägerhof, where I was staying… Luckily, there were many other activities I could do.
Forty five minutes later, wearing hiking boots, a waterproof jacket and clutching a map, I found myself sitting on the Gornergrat Bahn, a train that transports you up to the Gornergrat (a rocky ridge of the Pennine Alps overlooking the Gorner Glacier) situated at 3,089m. I was going walking.
While zig-zagging up the mountain, Zermatt tried to apologise. I heard a collective ‘ooohh’ sweeping through the carriage, and turning in my seat was met with a rainbow arching across the mountain, framing the village under a glistening kaleidoscope of colours.
Half an hour later, I stepped off the train, zipped my jacket and walked past the hotel and restaurant, up the last little hill to the viewpoint.
I stood looking out under a curtain of cloud. The mountains, covered with snow fell dramatically down into the valley while placid turquoise lakes reflected the many undulations.
After exploring some of the hiking trails, the rain started to fall, again — a late lunch back in the village seemed to be the best option.
Just down the road from the base station sits Fuchs bakery and coffee shop. And having overheard an American family exclaiming, ‘the coffee is incredible’, I headed there for some R&R.
The white peak of my Macchiato and inviting smell of my spinach quiche stopped my shivers. And when I stepped out into the gleaming sunshine bouncing off the puddles an hour later, my hair was almost dry.
But my itchy feet weren’t quite quelled. Next stop the museum.
The Matterhorn Museum offers insight into the development of Zermatt, showing the triumph and tragedy surrounding the first ascent of the Matterhorn. All underground, it gives you a real idea of what Zermatt used to be like, with overwhelming attention to detail. And I highly recommend watching the animation of the Matterhorn, twice.
I emerged, blinking, into misty rain. Luckily, Elsie’s bar was just up the road. Their specialty is a peach liqueur with cream… Just the ticket.
For more information:
Elsie’s Bar: www.elsiebar.ch
Matterhorn Museum: www.zermatt.ch/museum
Gornergrat Bahn: www.gornergratbahn.ch
Hotel Jägerhof: www.jaegerhofzermatt.ch