As promised, there has been plenty of holiday spam and today’s blog is no exception. It’s hard to play catch-up with writing when you are partying every night with your close family (living distant), so I am here is Rome writing in the dark, staring at this beautiful coppola to play catch up with my writing for the last couple of weeks so I don’t forget this beautiful holiday.
The view of the Mausoleum of Augusta, Rome from the rooftop veranda of our accommodation
So back-tracking to the beginning of September, the next set of mountains after Ortisei were the mountains surrounding Zermatt including the (elusive) distinctive Matterhorn, used by a much-loved chocolate as its inspiration. I am of course talking about Toblerone and while we consumed plenty of it while we were visiting, the weather precluded the obvious gag-photo but we tried.
Zermatt is a lovely village which is car-free with only small electric vehicles allowed in the streets of the town.
We had a change of weather after some brilliant sunny weather in The Odle Mountains and despite having a room with normally a perfect Matterhorn view, it was unfortunately shrouded in cloud for most of the weekend we were there and we only caught the glimpse below of the majesty of The Matterhorn one evening at 7pm. It was very exciting.
The Matterhorn peaking out from behind the clouds
On our first afternoon after arriving via train, we caught the gondola up to Furi to see the Hanging Bridge – a suspension bridge which I very bravely walked over. (I have a terrible fear of heights and especially when there are holes in the walking bit and rushing water underneath). We walked down to Zermatt in light rain which was not unpleasant and the walk was through beautiful forests.
Prior to arriving in Switzerland we had purchased a Swiss Rail Pass which entitles you to half price tickets on all the gondolas and trains, but they are still very expensive, especially with our (rubbish) dollar at the moment. But honestly we ate at The Co-op (a grocery store where we bought delicious BBQ chicken and salad for 10 CHF) so we could spend the money on the gondolas and rail trips because that’s what is so beautiful about Switzerland – seeing the mountains so very close up.
The second day we caught the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise Gondola up to the top – and like so often in the Alps we got to the top and there was a collective gasp from the 10 or so people in the gondola as we saw the panorama at the top – a ring of spectacular snow-clad mountains and then just as quickly (or before I could whip the phone out and catch the photo of it) it was shrouded in clouds.
After the obligatory hot chocolate at the top, we caught another gondola back down to Trockener Steg and then walked down the Matterhorn Glacier Trail to Schwarzsee. This was a huge walk (with lots of up as well as down) but the magnificence of the mountains surrounding was so worth the hard work of hiking. For a normal speed of good hikers it should have taken 2.5 to 3 hours but it took me (us) 4 hours, but again I would totally recommend it. There was some scrambling on loose rock but it was generally relatively manageable.
That was steeper than it looks
There was a time I could have thrown in the towel on that walk, but I pulled my big girl pants on and socks up when we bumped into a family coming in the opposite (and seemingly much more difficult way) with twin babies – each parent had one in a baby carrier and two other young children – say 4 and 6 years – all walking confidently and happily. Needless to say I finished the walk with much greater gusto after that.
Zermatt village from above
The third day we caught the Gornergrat Train attempting to get to the top, but the weather was very cold and snowing and the train couldn’t run because of iced-up wires so we got off the train half way up at Riffelberg and had a hot chocolate waiting for the crews to sort out the iced-up wires and allow the train to keep going. (This is where some bad luck – or negligence on my part – stepped in because that’s where I lost my Qantas Travel card and unfortunately I didn’t realise until I was about to step onto the train to Geneva as we were leaving later that afternoon).
The scenery at the top of the Gornergrat was spectacular. It was minus 4 degrees (-4C) and snowing and whilst the Matterhorn was shrouded in cloud, the Gorner Glacier was visible in all its glory. The trouble when you are mixing up a holiday with snowing weather and sunbaking weather it requires a wide assortment of clothes and whilst I was cursing carting around all that winter gear for the majority of the holiday, I was grateful this particular day for all the warm clothes I had packed.
We caught the train back down – we had vacillated about spending the money on this as it was 98 CHF for 2 people which was half price on our Swiss Rail Card and the webcam view was terrible while we were deciding whether to go- swirling cloud and low visibility – but when we eventually got there is was truly spectacular and totally worth the trip.
We left Zermatt vowing to come back again one day to see The Matterhorn in all its glory and added it to the list of magnificent mountains we have NOT seen due to cloudy weather. But as my son says that’s the beauty of mountains – they are unpredictable and glorious.
A gobsmacked cat of Scopello
The final blog will be about beautiful Scopello and Roma. The end of the holiday is nye.