Luzern to Täsch and Zermatt

We awakened at a reasonable time today.  Dad was up and around first, turning off our oscillating fan.  The overnight storms and cooling finally made the air temperature comfortable.  And how nice to rouse with it quiet enough between my bed and the plaza to hear the gurgling of the fountain!

We ate breakfast, summoned the car from valet parking, and headed out in the rain for our next destination.  Only then did we discover that there’s a COOP supermarket just two short blocks from our hotel.  Next time!

Ivan (our concierge) gave good directions for leaving the city, but not heading to Täsch.  Siri was freaking out, of course.  So we went to the next autobahn exit, turned around, and shifted to trusting/following Siri’s lead.

Within minutes, the GPS was warning of a road closed ahead and trying to re-route us around the north side of Luzern.  I didn’t want to deal with ferrying the car.  So Ron re-entered destination information in smaller increments: Stans, then Altdorf to head south.  Then Amsteg and Andermatt.

Warning!  Traffic situation has changed!  Expect 15 minute delay due to stationary traffic!  Well, that’s not so much, we agreed.  Keep going.  Halfway to Andermatt, a new warning.  Traffic situation has changed!  Expect 30 minute delay due to stationary traffic!  OK, we can still cope with a delay, rather than detour.

We found the Swiss equivalent of a highway oasis and stopped for a quick break.  Ron used the restroom (the first time so far that one CHF was required).  Dad used the bank-automaten to get cash.  I successfully pumped gas, found a sharp Victorinex knife (for slicing breads and cheeses) for only 5,50 CHF, grabbed two bottles of Diet Coke, and paid for all purchases with a clerk who spoke no English.  =)

By 13:45, we were in the stalled and creeping traffic at Andermatt.  Within 30 minutes, we had finally advanced to our exit toward Realp, Furka, and Oberwald.  No sooner had we moved into the exit-only lane in the tunnel than the trailer-towing vehicle two cars ahead of us stalled and died.  The poor woman who was a passenger came back to each car, telling us “motor problem.”  Oh dear.

She wanted us to back up, but by then enough exiting traffic had filled in behind us to make that an unrealistic request.  Oh dear.  Even if we could back up, we needed to take that exit, not another.  Luckily, the driver ahead of us knew or figured out that the barricade posts between the autobahn and the exit lane could be removed by forcing them sideways.  He cleared a space just wide enough to get back onto the highway and another space just wide enough to get back onto the exit ramp in front of the stalled vehicle.  We all felt as if someone was watching over us there!  Of course, the stalled vehicle started again and leaped forward just as we were trying to re-enter the exit ramp!  =P  Nevertheless, the travel angels smiled upon us, that’s for sure.  ~CH~

When Ron entered Oberwald as our new destination, Siri freaked out again.  The road was closed at Furka.  Oh dear.  The GPS reconfigured for a 45-minute alternate route.  Oh dear.

With heavy rain during the night and through most of the morning, we guessed that there may have been a mud/rock slide.  Or maybe snow and ice had closed Furkapass.  Either way, we had to take the alternate route to be sure of making progress.

By then, it was about 14:00 ~ the time I had naively hoped to arrive in Täsch.  And we were not yet close.  I was getting nervous about these unforeseen delays, not knowing whether there might be more ahead ~ and not at all certain how late the trains might run from Täsch to Zermatt.

So we decided to make the best time we could on our “alternate route.”  Siri routed us back to Andermatt, south to Gotthardpass, and down to Airolo, before sending us west.  Well, somewhat west!

The two-lane road was paved, with a good number of pull-offs to give courtesy to local drivers who could take the turns faster.  The rain that had stopped while we waited near Andermatt now resumed.  As we climbed higher in elevation, we watched the temperature on the GPS drop from 11 degrees C to 9 degrees … and then to 7 … and then to 6 degrees Celsius.  Thankfully, no lower than 6 degrees.  So, though driving on wet and steep inclines, through low  clouds, we did not have to contend with snow and ice as well.  Our travel angel seemed to have blessed us a second time for the day.  ~CH~

We drove through Bedretto, Nufenen, Nufenenpass, and finally Ulrichen.  Back at last to our original route!  I didn’t realize until much later in the day, when glancing at a (much better) map in our hotel room, that we had been driving right along the Italian border for several kilometers!  Whew!  =)

We stopped at a parking lot in Ulrichen for a break.  The rain continued, though less heavy downpours.  The TI center there was just an unattended small room.  So we each paid a franc to use the toilet in a little restaurant/pub.  Dad used our new knife to slice bread and cheese.  We had found more Brie and a sweet cheese (maybe Neufchatel?) coated with walnut chunks.  That plus a few “natural” potato chips really hit the spot.  Onward!

The rest of our drive was fairly uneventful.  At least, no more detours or delays!  It really was a lovely drive once past the tension and stress of the unknowns.  Quaint little mountain villages with buildings close to the road, wooden structures, rock-tile roofs, and, of course, lovely flowerboxes.

We reached Täsch at about 17:30.  The GPS only miscounted which turn to take in a roundabout a few times.  We followed the directional signs and used Siri’s counting as a backup.

The train terminal at Täsch was easy to find, as was the (new) adjacent parking garage.  We quickly foudn a parking spot.  The 5 francs for a luggage cart was well worth it, especially since we had brought two bags of groceries with us from Luzern.

Dad watched the cart while Ron and I stopped at the WC.  Then, while Dad was taking his turn, a man approached Ron, holding something in his hand.  It was Ron’s MasterCard, which had dropped out of his wallet about 4 meters from where we parked the cart.  He had been transferring cash ~ and the card slipped out of a less-full pocket, unbeknownst to us.  Thank goodness for a courteous and honest stranger who handed us back the card.  More protection from our travel angel.  ~CH~

By the time we reached the ticket office and purchased our round-trip “billets,” the train had started to load.  It was late enough in the day that the cars were less than half full.  We unloaded our luggage from the cart onto the train.  Two new travel guardian angels let us know that we could take our cart onto the train, showing us how to anchor it to the side (which we did!).  ~CH~

Thirty minutes later, we arrived in Zermatt.  I think it was the same two travel guardian angels who found us while the porter was loading our luggage into the Hotel Butterfly taxi, returning to Ron the 5-franc coin that had been refunded when he returned our cart to a corral at the Zermatt station.  We thought it was a (reasonable) surcharge, but it was a deposit!  And what was the chance that the Hotel Butterfly taxi would be waiting right there when we arrived?!  These were traveling mercies, that’s for sure.  ~CH~

Our room (#415) on the top floor of the Best Western Hotel Butterfly is gorgeous.  Wooden beams, wood furniture, and furnishings with color!

We walked along Bahnhofstrasses after unpacking a little of our belongings.  As close as we are to Italy, La Dolce Vita seemed the perfect place for our evening meal.  It was a good choice.  We sat on the outside patio where heaters kept it comfortable from the chill.  Ron ordered a risotto with peas and chanterelle mushrooms.  Dad had a pasta with tomato cream sauce and meatballs.  I had a scrumptious risotto with gorgonzola cheese, chopped tomato, and fresh parsley.  Delicious!

After supper, we did a little shopping, checked the morning table times for the Gornergrat train, and headed back to our hotel just a few blocks away.  Dad read his book.  I worked on my trip journal.  And Ron went down to the hotel bar for a “local” beer.  Not sure why we were late getting to bed, but it was certainly a full and memorable day!

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