Zermatt, Switzerland: August 1st – 5th

My train out of Lucerne didn’t leave until the afternoon, so I took my time crawling out of bed and packing up my belongings. After a wonderful, uninterrupted Skype with my favorite person, I was on my way to the train station.. and a couple hours early. That turned out to be a blessing when I ran into the major issue of not being able to print my train ticket, since I’d booked it with a company not located in that particular station. After frantically running back and forth between the station and a hotel to use their WiFi/printer, I finally resolved the issue with 15 minutes to spare before train departure. Needless to say, it set my day off on a wonky track.

My journey to Zermatt was long and a bit complicated as I had to change trains twice with mere minutes to get from one platform to another. But I managed just fine, even with my superfluous collection of luggage…

My train ticket from Lucerne to Zermatt. My favorite tickets in Europe!

The train that took me to Zermatt was by far the most interesting that I’ve ridden on in Europe. It was much less modern than the high speed trains that are more common to ride, with very simple seats and no racks to hold your bags. It curves up and around the Alps, secured by a hooked pulley, much like a roller coaster. The sound of the train along the tracks was insane! It was incredibly loud and a bit nerve-wracking at times. But we arrived at our destination safely and without delay.

Navigating to my hostel was an adventure. Zermatt is small and there is only one main road that run the length of town, but the map on my phone contrasted the city map and I ended up walking in the opposite direction for too long. When I finally made it, I was exhausted and so thrilled to have a bed to rest on, even if it was very reminiscent of a jail bunk. I rested for a bit and then forced myself to explore the town before calling it a night. When I went out, the sun had just fallen behind the Alps, casting shadows over the town. It was a great time for some photos.

My first glimpse of the Matterhorn.
The beautiful town of Zermatt.

My first glance of the Matterhorn was a bit unreal. Being the Disney fanatic I am, I’ve been familiar with the ride for years. I knew that the real thing would be much larger, but I didn’t realize how much larger. The mountain is massive… even from miles away. It’s really awesome.

About an hour later, I quit my adventures for the day and crawled into bed and into a deep slumber.

The next morning, I awoke to my friend Zee waving at me from the next bunk over. He directed me to get up and get dressed so we could start our day.

After a quick breakfast, we wandered the busy streets of Zermatt, peeking into various shops and getting a feel for the layout of the town. The languages were such a mix; primarily, French and German. Being more of a tourist destination, we heard quite a few British accents as well. The sun was out and shining and everyone seemed to be in good spirtis.

Walking the colorful streets of Zermatt.
The oh-so-inviting display of Swiss chocolates.
The cheapest meal you can find in Zermatt at 5 francs.

The following day, we decided we wanted to go for a hike. Swimming sounded ideal so we mapped out a trail to the nearest lake, put on our most appropriate hiking gear and set out for the Alps. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not the most outdoorsy of types. (Interesting since I go to school in Oregon, one of the premiere states for all things “natural”.) I’ve gone on walking trails many times, but a full on hike? Never done it. So this day was a challenge for me. With Zee’s speed and fierce determination to reach the top, I felt like the slowest creature, practically crawling up the side of the mountain. But after many short rests, we both made it to our destination. I was so proud of myself! Yay me!

The view after our completed hike up an Alp and the little Leisee Lake.

We found a nice spot to eat our packed lunch and took in the scenery. We decided against swimming since our “lake” turned out to be just a pond… but it was relaxing enough to sit by the water with the refreshing Alp wind brushing our faces.

The hike took a few hours of our day, but most of our energy, so for the remainder of our evening we lazed around our hostel.

The next day, our final day in Zermatt, we wanted to get a closer look at the Alps, particularly the Matterhorn. So we took the one hour gondola ride up to Glacier Paradise, a hollowed out “mountain” with panoramic views and access to the slopes, if you choose to ski/snowboard. The journey up to the glacier was breathtaking.

On our way up to Glacier Paradise on the Gondola, looking over the town of Zermatt.
The beautiful Swiss Alps.

Finally, we made it to the top. And it was cold! Breathing was much more exhausting, as the air is significantly thinner up there. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to ski for an entire day from that height. Crazy..

Once we hopped off the gondola, we followed tunnel after tunnel until we reached the ice. As cautiously as possible for fear of slipping, we made our way into the very center of the glacier.

Journeying inside of the glacier.

Gutted out rooms and hallways created an admirable space, decorated with ice sculptures and historical plaques. The ceiling, or what it would be considered to be called, glittered with decades of iced layers. It was truly beautiful.

Beautiful ice sculptures inside of the glacier.
The ceiling of the glacier, covered in ice.

Seeing the inside of a glacier was out of this world. Totally surreal, fascinating and impressive. I could have spent the entire day in there, if it hadn’t been so chilly!

On top of the glacier!

Seeing such wonderful panoramas of Zermatt and the Alps on our final day was a great way to say goodbye to Switzerland. I’m so happy I was able to visit and experience the Swiss lifestyle. If only my budget weren’t so effected by the high prices!

Such beautiful views from up high on the Alps.
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