Zermatt and the Matterhorn

Matterhorn Day!

We were online last night to check the weather forecast.  The one-day preview said a good chance of clouds and rain.  When we checked the hour-by-hour forecast, it showed only partly cloudy all day with no chance of precipitation.

By the time we got up (7:30 for Dad; 8:00 for me; 8:15 for Ron), there were still a few clouds, but the sun was dissipating them.  I awakened hearing the call of birds I didn’t recognize.  I went out onto the balcony to see if I could spot one for a look.  Instead, I soon realized that the voice was coming not from the trees near the hotel, but from much higher up the slope of this alpine foothill.  And, with that realization, I recognized the voice immediately.  Marmots!  As quiet as it is in this resort town with no private cars, electrical and hybrid taxis and trolleys only, and a few horse-drawn carriages, I thought it would be easier to hear other voices.  This made it doubly delightful to hear the marmot chatter this morning.  =)

I should have anticipated that our lovely room would be matched with a very hearty breakfast buffet.  Tables of foods and beverages in two separate rooms!  Although I have enjoyed the European/Mediterranean style breakfasts, it was a treat to have scrambled eggs today in addition.

We reached the Gornergrat train station mid-morning, purchased our tickets, and headed for the platform just as a train was boarding.  So our ascent was well-timed.

The ride up was lovely on such a clear, cool day.  Glimpses of the Matterhorn, as well as close-up views of the terrain and the alpine wildflowers.  But even the ascent doesn’t really prepare you for the magnificent and breathtaking panorama at the top.

We had considered taking a different train that gives the more classic view of the Matterhorn.  We chose this ascent instead because it actually gets you much closer to the mountain’s peak.  In addition, we could see Monte Rosa, the tallest Swiss peak, with massively heavy snow cover ~ not to mention the Gornergrat glacier.  We made the best choice!

While Ron took photos, Dad and I explored the buildings.  We found a little chapel, went in, and lighted a votive candle remembering Mom.  She was absolutely right in her conviction that we would love the Swiss Alps.

We found the restaurant with both inside and outside seating.  Since it was such a lovely day, we sat outside on the terrace.  While we waited for Ron, Dad and I split an apfel strudel and drank a beverage (hot Swiss chocolate and Diet Coke, respectively).

I’m not sure how long Ron took photos.  Maybe an hour?  It doesn’t matter.  It was marvelous to sit on that terrace with that view!  =)  When Ron came back, I returned to the self-serve area for more snacks.  This time, I saw the sign for the vanilla glaze to top the strudel.  Warm vanilla glaze!  So the three of us shared another apfel strudel with glaze.  Hot kaffee for Ron, hot chamomile tea for Dad, and Swiss hot chocolate for me.  Ignoring carb concerns today, that’s for sure!

After a little more gift-shopping, Dad and I were ready to head back to Zermatt.  With cloud formations and sun orientation changing, Ron had many more mountain photos to take.  That surprised no one!  =)  So Dad and I went back to Zermatt and left Ron unsupervised in the high country.  =D

Ron met us at the hotel at about 16:30.  He had so many tales to tell, having followed the well-marked hiking trail down for new views.  He descended far enough that he even passed the next train stop a bit!  Took photos of an alpine lake with the Matterhorn in the background.  What an incredible day.

We went for pizza at a little Italian place near the train station.  Sat outside because it was cooler.  We didn’t know that we would have front row seats for the Heidi-like parade of bell-adorned goats that meanders through town (for the tourists) at 18:00 each day!

Dad had a robust chef salad, which I nibbled on too.  I had cheese pizza with plenty to share.  Ron had a grilled vegetable pizza.  Thin crust.  Not too much cheese.  It was yummy.

After supper, we returned to a gelato stand we had spotted the night before.  Ron had one scoop of caramel in a waffle cone.  Dad had one scoop of rum/raisin.  Both were tasty (I sampled), but whooooo the rum/raisin had lots of rum!  At the same shop, we purchased three little white chocolate Matterhorn-replica candies for later.  They were nougat-filled and luscious.

Eating supper earlier, we were back to our hotel with plenty of daylight left.  Ron uploaded pictures from the camera to the Surface.  Dad and I sat on the balcony and read/wrote notes.  Movement caught our eye.  We looked up to see hang-gliders right in front of us, coming in to land near the main train station!  A total of nine over the course of the evening!  Ron checked with the concierge, who confirmed our surmise that they take the ski lift to a peak, then catch a current.  What a nice serendipity to glimpse them today.  =)

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