Published: December 29th 2011June 6th 2006
Breakfasted in Sion – felt rough – a bad nights sleep coughing and spluttering. My nose could give Rudolf a run for his money. Why is it you always feel far worse when you are away from home. Hankies in pocket, dosed up on Lemsip and Paracetamol went down for breakfast before leaving the French speaking side of Switzerland for Zermatt in the German speaking part.
Zermatt is a famous skiing and mountaineering destination with chair lifts and cable cars climbing to the high mountains. It is also the terminus of the station from where the spectacular rack and pinion Gornergratbahn rises high above the town on its journey into the mountains. It is the highest open air railway in Europe.
Everything in Switzerland runs like clockwork. The car park runs perfectly with perfectly parked cars and the station neat and tidy with all windows open for business. Why though do we get the coldest most miserable ticket seller in the world? Without a smile he took our money and pointed us in the direction of our first train.
The little red Gornergrat went on time not one minute late nor one
minute early as it wound its way up the hillside. Through conifer forests and alpine meadows the train trundles along for 29 minutes heading ever upwards above the snowline and treeline to its destination. Always the Matterhorn is in sight and what an iconic sight it makes with its tell tale shape. It could be no other mountain. The train was fairly quiet and we spent the 29 minutes looking upwards marvelling at how the railway line clung to the hillside and how Zermatt receded into the valley.
The summit reached we all disembarked on a rather grey miserable looking station. It was clean and the mountain air crisp and I could well imagine it busy during the high season. It felt 10 degrees colder up here and set me off coughing and spluttering. The views though of the mountain and of Monte Rosa towards Italy were magnificent and worth paying the rather high cost of the train fare. Even in the cold I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
The train back surprised us as it turned up late!!!! Never happens in Switzerland so no idea what had happened to it on its way up. It was full going down but we were able to get a good window seat and watched the marmots and small grey/brown squirrel like animal playing in the snow and rocks blending in perfectly. At times could not see them as they camouflaged well.
After another pleasant 29 minutes we arrived back at Zermatt, disembarked and headed in the crowds out of the station only for me to notice I had lost my purse which was full of euros, swiss francs and worse still the car parking ticket. I ran back across the platform and prayed that the train had not set off back up the mountain. It was still there and guards were inspecting it making sure it was clean and tidy for its next trip. I had not expected to find my purse but was greeted by a smiling guard who pronounced that this must be what I was looking for and handed me back the purse.
What a relief and what a day!!!!