With Swiss to Switzerland
Athens 06.30 a.m.
Zurich 08.20 a.m.
“Come! The train platform #3 is that way! Hurry we have 4 minutes” Stress levels, max.
It takes 2 hours and 22 minutes to reach from Zurich to Visp, by train.
From Visp, we need to quickly disembark and hop on another train to make it to our mythical final destination, Zermatt. We have 6 minutes from the time of arrival to the time of departure and the Swiss knew it.
The new platform is right next to the one we arrive, we even have time for a quick smoke. We don’t do so though, because we are scared of being left out, but there was enough time, after all. Stress levels, still high! I should have smoked.
The Swiss, are as sharp as their army knifes when it comes to time. At this point, I can only guess how Swiss are like. This is my first time in Switzerland.
In 1 hour and 6 minutes we reach our final destination. Zermatt, a small village located at the feet of the most famous Swiss mountain, Matterhorn.
Coming from Greece, from a small Mediterranean village, famous for 365 days of sunshine to an Alpine Swiss village, famous for 365 days of snowfall is a challenge! Accepted!
Welcome to Zermatt
Zermatt, with a population of around 5,400 lies at the foot of the highest mountains in the entire Alpine mountain range. With the Matterhorn, Weisshorn, Monte Rosa, this village is considered to lay in the heart of the hearts of the mountains. You cannot escape the fascination of majestic Matterhorn.
Love at first sight! Here, you are entitled to say: “You had me at hello”.
A short walk across barns, stables, houses and old dwellings built between the 15th and the 19th century, gets me acquainted with the oldest part of Zermatt, the “Hinterdorf”. The quaint houses along the way are covered with heavy stone slabs and are made of larch wood. Stop for a minute to drink water from the memorial fountain. A tribute to the legendary mountain guide, Ulrich Inderbinen. He climbed Matterhorn more than 370 times. The last time he did, he was at the age of 97. Once you drink from this water, you get to better understand the locals’ source of inspiration!
Welcome to the mountain of the mountains!
The ski region of Matterhorn encompasses 54 mountain railways and lifts as well as 360 kilometers of pistes. You are entitled to call this one “Pow heaven”!
The Matterhorn glacier paradise, at an airy 3.883 meters of altitude gives access to a year round glacier area where top ski racers train during the summer. This is Europe’s highest aerial cableway with a summit station. If you still want to go higher, the summit lift will bring you to the viewing platform with a 360 panoramic view that includes 38 Alpine giants. I did!
We get well equipped and with our Swiss travel pass and the ski pass in hand we enter the cable cars. I am told that the new ones, are decorated with Swarovski crystals. Alright, i think.
Crispy winter air, here we come!
I am not an alpinist, nor a keen skier or snowboarder. I wish i was and i admire those who are. This is the first time I will make an honest effort to balance myself on a board. I am in peace with the fact that I will not perform any tricks today. I am determined to listen, see and do. I cannot shed light into breathtaking paths that only experienced practitioners can reach, but i know people who can help you if you are determined to ski or snowboard from Cervinia to Zermatt.
“We don’t get down at this one! We still have 5 more stops before we reach the slope!”, the knowledgeable instructor says and i nod, like i’m used to spending time in a hanging box. I am putting such a strong effort not to forget any of the necessary equipment behind. I find some time to put on lip balm but i forget to tie my hair. This, will later prove to be a bad decision.
I don’t get to think of the places we pass by, during those 25 minutes. I don’t think of asking my instructor where one goes if decides to go down at the first, the second, or the next stop.
I don’t even have time to visit Gornergrat, if you know what I mean.
We have a goal to reach, a peak to get! I will be back for the rest.
We spend 25 minutes inside the cable car. Enough time to realize the actual altitude and the high level of passion enclosed in this one. Always the Matterhorn, overlooking from above and an ever changing ground scenery below our feet. Hanging on a metal cable, elevating, my ears feel weird, the air is so clean, the silence is breaking through, my eyes can barely stand the sunshine falling heavy upon this first time to see alpine mountain range.
We are here. We are now.
I have decided to fear not and take my first steps in snowboard at the best of all mountains. I am very confident about my decision! You have to get inspired to learn, after all.
The session lasted for 3 hours. We had lunch at the Top of the Matterhorn Glacier. The peak has been reached. Now, way down we go.
We took the cable cars, returned the equipment and walked back to the hotel to take a hot hot sauna, before dinner. Stress levels, zero!
I feel weightless. The night has fallen. I can hear the sound of the water flowing down the mountains as the ice melts. I walk lightly, we choose to enter a comfy place to have dinner and drinks. There, we bump into two young, hopelessly romantic carpenters coming, from Germany. They were carrying a small handmade luggage, dressed in an old fashioned but pretty elegant way. We had to meet, i needed to know their story.
They have been traveling around the world; meeting and getting jobs by fellow carpenters, sleeping on the road if they had to, no phones, no maps, no internet, no girlfriend behind. This is a typical German tradition adopted by and for carpenters. They are supposed to travel the world for 4 years only carrying the necessary, in pursuit of the diversity of the cultures. They know this is the only way to advance both in their careers and personal well-being. Well-respected gentlemen! I have 30 minutes of this discussion recorded. It is a real treasure.
Well-respected mountain, i promise to come back!
Swiss International Airlines: With Swiss to Switzerland!
Visit Switzerland: Get Natural!
Swiss Travel System: Switzerland. by train, bus and boat.
Zermatt – Matterhorn: Zermatt. No matter what!
Dorsaz Sport: Modern Rental Center
Zermatters: Outdoor Experience Since 1888
Tradition Julen Zermatt: Alpenhof Superior ___________________________________________________________
Thank you all for an unforgettable trip!