Best of Swiss Alps (part 1): A Little Bit of Blizzard, A Little Bit of Sun

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Europe » Switzerland » South-West » Zermatt
May 1st 2013
Published: September 2nd 2013
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Out of all the countries in Europe that I have visited, Switzerland was the one that I was really looking forward for. Not only because it always look so picturesque in books & online, but also because my road going there is not smooth at all. It took 4 years, literally, but I’m here now. And that’s all that matters. The question now though – where should I go exactly in Switzerland?

I’ve always dreamed about staying in mountain village with killer panorama drenched in sunshine and blue sky. But again, which mountain? I can’t decide between Zermatt vs Berner Oberland – so I decided to do both; even though I only have 4 days in Switzerland. It will be fast paced, but based on my calculation & experience – I believe it’s still doable.

I know going to Zermatt is making my itinerary looks a bit crazy (because from Frankfurt I have to go aaaalll the way south to Zermatt, before making my way back north to Berner Oberland and finally finishing in Zurich). Arriving in Zermatt, it’s a cute little town with many wooden lodges. Although indeed touristy (I saw signs in Japanese so you know it’s definitely geared up for tourists) and McDonalds! I also know that May is not the best time go to there, but still – I’m not sure when can I visit Europe in near future. Even if I do, I might be more interested going to countries I’ve never been before. Besides, I tend to have good luck with weathers on my vacation. So I might as well give this one a shot.

Well, unfortunately, luck is not on my side. It was really cloudy. As it was not the peak season, 2 out of 3 private railways/cable cars are closed. I can’t go to Matternhorn Glacier Paradise nor Rothorn; I can only go to Gornergrat. And even that – I can’t really see much. Forget about the iconic Tobblerone chocolate shape mountain – I can’t even see pass the trees like 10 meters out. Well at least I got 50% off the ticket price by using my half fare card.

It was like 4 degrees up there, and soon enough – blizzard starts! They even herded the St Bernard dogs used for photo op down the mountain back to the village. The funny thing is – I can actually still enjoy the experience. Living in tropical countries all my life – I have never seen so much snow in my life! So I just bundled myself up and “enjoy” the experience. I wish I had a cup of choco and my husband hugging me. I can just imagine his eyes lit up experiencing this. But… I do have to admit; it’s not something I would want to necessarily repeat. If it’s cloudy, it’s really not worth it going up to any mountains (especially the ticket itself is very expensive in general).

I ended up just spending an hour plus before making my way back to the Zermatt village. I actually ran back to my hotel, pick up my bag and run back to the station – because I know the train only goes every hour to Berner Oberland – my next destination. I was huffing and puffing; and can’t run that fast with full gear on. As I was stepping on to the platform, the train literally ALMOST left; but I haven’t purchase any ticket. I ask one of the guards whether I can just buy ticket online and he said ok – so I just jump to the train; and it closed like seconds afterwards. I must’ve look nervous as another officer try to calm me that the ticket price purchased on the train is exactly the same if I bought it at the station. Phewww.

Weather is such an unpredictable thing isn’t it? It was super dark cloudy in Zermatt, but once the train pass a long tunnel (lies in the belly of some mountain) – the sky opens up and it’s… blue. Wow. I’m happy to see the sun again. I like the train that I’m riding in because they have these giant windows that almost up to the ceiling. I heard they were built that way so the passenger can fully enjoy the view. Interestingly, seems like only tourists are in awe with the view. I can tell who are the locals because they will be busy with their iphone or books or sleeping; basically doing anything but enjoying the view. I guess when you’ve gotten used to something it becomes “normal” and not so special anymore. I hate to use the word “take for granted” but it may seem to be that way to a certain degree.

I’m supposed to go to Wengen next. It’s a small pretty mountain village on the laps of Berner Oberland. But on the way there, something caught my attention. Outside the window I can see a pretty lakeside town, gorgeously bathe in sunshine. Then spontaneously, I picked up my bag and got off at that station. Where am I? Oh, Spiez – as I read on the station name. I’ve heard about it before, and I know the train frequency from here to Interlaken is like every 30 mins or so. I should have time to roam around for a while and still arrive at Wengen well before sunset.

I’m glad I made that split second decision. Spiez is beautiful! It’s not touristy (I only see locals – and they seemed to be surprised too to see tourist). I took a long winding path to the lakeside that hugs this quiet neighborhood with charming wooden houses. There’s even a patch of pretty wild flower field. It really feels like spring here. The locals also seemed to be enjoying the atmosphere. Some have picnics at the park, some play the giant chess, some just lounging around at the lakeside café, some feeding the swans, some even riding canoes and wakeboard at the lake! Now that’s what I call enjoying life!

Unfortunately I was too late to catch the boat to Interlaken; so I ended up just having my lunch at the bench by the lake. It was so simple, but I had fun. Clouds started to gather and it becomes a bit hazy over the lake. I sluggishly pick up my big backpack and walk UPHILL back to the train station. Gosh! It’s quite steep! I didn’t realize it was that steep going down. I just took one step at a time, and took short pauses if I needed too. I was too tired to even avoid a big dog that was unleashed on the way up (I have dog phobia, but that’s another story).

The day ended with a dinner on my private balcony, bathe in sunset glow, in the pretty mountain village called Wengen. At this point in time, life is good my friend, life is good. Stay tune for my next blog entry – my journey in Switzerland is not over yet!

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Additional photos below
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This is HOW it supposed to look like in blue sky
St Bernard's DogSt Bernard's Dog
St Bernard's Dog

You can take pic with them for a fee - but unfortunately they don't look that healthy or happy :(

2nd September 2013

Sounds Lovely
I enjoy reading your blog, going of the beaten track o experience new and wonderful things are great I look forward to seeing more from you!
2nd September 2013

thanks for stopping by! more stories coming up soon :)
2nd September 2013

We love the Bernese Oberland...
spending many vacations there when we lived in Europe for 18 years. For the most part we stayed at the little inn at the end of the Lauterbrunnen Valley, in Steckelberg. But I remember staying in Wengen and skiing at Kleine 8 km run back to Wengen...perfect weather and deep powder. Wengen is also good for hiking in the summer...we would catch the cable car to Mannlichten and hike from there to Kleine Scheidegg and down to Wengen. It doesn't get any better than this! Thanks for the memories!

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