Typing out what I scribbled on a hotel pad in Zermatt almost 7 days ago:
Day before yesterday, our Europe trip began in earnest. Technically it had begun three days earlier than that when I landed in Vienna, but I think it will be a crime to describe the city sojourn in the same space as a journey in the Swiss Alps. Besides (and I don’t mean it as an affront to the charm of both Vienna and Salzburg), their memories are quite ack swept right now in the rush of Alpine beauty.
We arrived in Switzerland on the Wiener Walzer Express from Salzburg. A fitful rest on a couchette had still not wiped the sleepiness at 6:20 in the morning. Some ablutions and a wuick grab later, we boarded a train to Chur. Chur is where we were going to board the panoramic Glacier Express, all the way to Zermatt. Very touristy? Yes, I couldn’t agree more. The scenery was quite breath-taking, and may be it is a good introductory course to Switzerland, but I yearned to de-board at many green bushes rather than click pictures through the (very reflective!) glass windows.
We reached Zermatt sometime in the evening (yes a long ride, you could try to keep it only to the interest regions: to Andermatt from the previous stop, or from Visp to Zermatt).
Zermatt is a prefect little holiday town. At this time, it is buzzing with people and activity. As the Glacier express stationed, which is perhaps a highlight of the day for the town, a few small electric vans came down to pick up the tourists. Zermatt is a car free zone, and so most movement happens either on foot or on those electrical trams.
We walked around in the town, enjoying free performanes at the local chapel, along with a food festival. Found a small family-run restaurant: Restaurant du Pont, to enjoy our first authentic Swiss fondue along with a local wine. The combination was quite heady, though the cheese got a bit too much in the end. The Swiss serve it in a big pan, which is really deep, not like the swish places of bombay, whose bowls usually have a false bottom!
Next morning, we had planned on some hiking. There were a few suggestions from our hotel (Hotel Simi, by the way: a very recommended place to stayin Zermatt). We decided to go to Sunegga from where a lot of trails begin. There is an express train to get to Sunegga: a funicular actually; after getting down, we started to walk towards Blauherd (approx 2600 m above sea level from Sunegga’s 2280). There is a cable car to Blauherd too, but the hike is beautiful, with the loveliest views of Matterhorn, the lovely peak that rules Zermatt. From Blauherd, we walked on towards Stellisee, a beautiful lake in which Matterhorn is reflected on quiet days.(I just managed to catch some stilnness for a few moments). The route to Stellisee is beautiful too, with views of the Matterhorn and other 4000+ peaks whick line the valle. The lake is a quiet place for a halt, though more populated than the rest of the track.
From Stellisee we climbed further to Fluhalp, and a bit further towards Pfulve. Some distance from Fluhalp, we found a nice stone to park ourselves and eat. How delightful is a piece of bread after so much walking!
We retraced our steps to Fluhalp, where stands the Fluhalp hut – a large impressive place which stands at the edge of the cliff, looking out to the many cliffs around it. It serves as the base station for many mountain climbers who try to scale the Matterhorn and other peaks. We stopped there for coffee and dessert, before taking another route to Sunegga. On this route back, we were accompanied by a small stream, which was really idyllic, flowing through the green grass. We reached Sunegga via Leisee, which has become a kid’s resort with a license for swimming, and its joyrides.
From Sunegga, in stead of taking the train back, we decided to walk to Zermatt, and somewhere caught an uninteresting, rather dull route which winds down to Zermatt at a gradient of 10 deg, flowing down for 2 hours for a height difference of only 700 m. By the time we reached SImi, our mucles were crying out loud, especially with the descent, and it was with relief that we greeted the lovely whirlpool and sauna. Half an hour of treatment, and we could walk into the city, even if for a small meal and a rather brooding drink at the local tavern (Hotel Post).
To be continued…