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Chamber of Commerce picture-postcard-perfect day in Zermatt

25 Sep
The last time I was in Zermatt was 43 years ago. A college girlfriend and I made the Grand Tour of Europe in the summer of 1972 following Frommer’s Europe on $5.00 a Day. Zermatt was a splurge because we had to pay $5.35 EACH just for our room and breakfast, way over budget. I think we lived on bread and cheap wine for the duration of our stay. I never forgot how beautiful it was. It still is. It’s still expensive, too.
Postcard view. The Matterhorn remained cloud free all day.
Postcard view. The Matterhorn remained cloud free all day.
We arrived the other day to cold — almost winter-cold — weather. Having worn my jeans for 3 days, they could practically stand up by themselves. I needed to wash them and had only unlined hiking pants to wear for Thursday’s planned expedition to a high elevation. If it was cold in Zermatt, 10,000+ feet was not going to be any better. I set off to see if I could find any tights to wear as insulation. At one of the many shops selling high-priced outdoor fashion, I stated my need. “We didn’t expect it to be so cold,” I told the clerk. “Neither did we,” he said. If the Swiss think it’s cold, it IS cold. Luckily they had a lovely pair of purple and black merino wool long johns for me. I guess today we do not say “long johns” nor even “long underwear;” it is a “base layer.” How elegant. And they were just the ticket.
From the Rothorn. There are other mountains, but it is hard to not focus on the Matterhorn.
From the Rothorn. There are other mountains, but it is hard to not focus on the Matterhorn.
Thursday morning we layered up with everything we could and headed out to ride the underground funicular and two gondola lifts to the Rothorn, where one get the classic postcard view of the Matterhorn. The day could not have been more perfect!  A light dusting of snow from the night before added to the beauty.
Not wishing to hike from quite that high, we headed down to the Blauherd station and set off to hike The Marmot Trail. We wanted an easy-ish hike the first day so as not to repeat our July 6 experience. I picked The Marmot Trail as it was rated for those as young as 4-years-old. I figured a couple of anziani could manage. The 4-year-olds the writer had in mind must have been mountain goats! The first third of the downhill-bound trail was marked by rocky portions waiting to twist your ankle and slippery, gooey, clay-based, green-tinged mud that made footing even on flat portions dicey.
Black & white goats, unique to the Valais, resting in a high mountain pasture.
Black & white goats, unique to the Valais, resting in a high mountain pasture.
The only sign of marmots we saw was scat.
At Sunnegga, a lift station and restaurant, we decided to take a restorative espresso while lounging on the delightful deck in full view of the Matterhorn. Switzerland is expensive, but I was shocked when our two double-espressos came to 12.40 CHF! And I had to prepare them myself from a self-service machine. I said to Ric, “And people complain about Starbucks prices.” He quipped back, “But Starbucks doesn’t have a view of the Matterhorn.” Amen.
This little guy and his friends were hanging out trailside on our path-to-lunch.
This little guy and his friends were hanging out trailside on our path-to-lunch.
There’s a trail from Sunnegga to Zermatt called the Gourmetweg. Along this trail one encounters not only several restaurants, but several  exceptional restaurants. We are used to having good meals when we hike: freshly prepared food, ceramic plates and real glasses, good wines, and so on. (No hotdogs, burgers, nor nachos with gummy cheese for the European hiker!)
More trailside companions. But no marmots.
More trailside companions. But no marmots.
Chez Vrony takes outdoor dining while hiking or skiing to a new level. It is Michelin Guide rated and outstanding in every way. The salad ingredients (forgot to take a picture!) came from Vrony’s garden. Hard to believe it is located between two ski runs. The Matterhorn looks down on the deck, and under stunningly blue and cloudless skies, we had a hard time resisting a second glass of wine knowing we had an hour-plus hike still ahead of us. For the record, we took the short Gourmetweg. There is a cut-off that practically dropped us at our front door, near the Furi lift at the south end of Zermatt. Here are a few choice shots from our lunch. Click on any photo for a larger view and slide show.
My pedometer claims the day’s walking burned over 800 calories. Yippee! But today my quads are telling me that cannot happen every day.
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10 Responses to “Chamber of Commerce picture-postcard-perfect day in Zermatt”

  1. John Henderson September 26, 2015 at 15:36 #

    Great look at September in Zermatt, one of the special places in Europe. You must love a town where no cars are allowed and everywhere has a view of the prettiest mountain in the Alps. I was there in 1978 on $15 a day. I remember the cheese and meat I lived on in Switzerland were a lot tastier than the hot meals I had in England. I also remember my aborted picnic below the Matterhorn. A slow rain chased me down the trail until I reached my youth hostel with a half-eaten salami sandwich and a Toblerone bar. However, that salami sandwich at the foot of the Matterhorn was the best salami sandwich I’ll ever eat.

    John Henderson
    Dog-Eared Passport: http://www.johnhendersontravel.com
    @JohnHendeRome

    Liked by 1 person

    • gooddayrome September 26, 2015 at 16:39 #

      Wow, that’s some inflation in 6 years! I was worried that returning would burst my bubble. People complain that it is a tourist Mecca, but it’s still charming. We found a quiet apartment away from the center for 100 CHF per night. It helped balance the cost of food and wine.

      Zermatt has some great food choices, and we are fortunate to not have to live on bread and cheese these days. The Swiss wines are excellent, too.

      Wouldn’t it be grand if more places were car-free? We love that in the Cinque Terre, too. I have a great deal of respect for the care given to the environment throughout Switzerland, at least the areas we have visited. Healthy forests, clean streets, breathable air, what more could you want? Oh yeah, everyone speaks English.

      Like

  2. Chloe September 26, 2015 at 09:31 #

    My husband and I were just talking about our trip to Zermatt and seeing the Matterhorn. It was one of the high points in our travels around Europe and the Matterhorn was something that I had wanted to see since childhood. The weather was similar to what you are experiencing, so it was perfect. Not only is it cold in Switzerland, it is cold in France also. Everyone here is surprised at the cold temperatures we have been having this early in the season. I haven’t gotten out my “base layer” of clothing yet, but did put on a wool sweater this morning.

    Like

    • gooddayrome September 26, 2015 at 12:38 #

      I can take almost any degree of cold as long as it isn’t raining all the time. Cold and sunny works great for this ex-Minnesotan! Hope you can enjoy your time in France even with chilly temps. Rome remains nice. Looks like about 70 Fahrenheit today!

      Like

  3. graciamc September 26, 2015 at 01:32 #

    I also laughed out loud about the 4 year old “goats”! My knees hurt thinking about this. I love that the food is as fabulous as the scenery.

    Like

    • gooddayrome September 26, 2015 at 06:01 #

      My knees are good but the quads and calves are still complaining. I don’t know why this one hit us so hard. We walked (mostly) on the flat yesterday to recover. Have to get back on the trail though; we have a week in Lauterbrunnen ahead of us!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Marcia Kakiuchi September 25, 2015 at 18:01 #

    First, I laughed out loud to your comment about ‘the 4 year olds must have been mountain goats’! Sometimes when I’m hiking, I see signs saying EASY and it ends up anything but easy for me.

    Then I loved Ric’s comment about ‘but Starbucks doesn’t come with a view of the Matterhorn’. That was a perfect retort. I’ve always wanted to see the Matterhorn but honestly, the prices in Switzerland (and for that matter I want to go to Norway too and the prices there are bad too) just scare me.

    I’m so impressed that these beautiful places have such elegant dining. I mean, fresh food literally out in the middle of no-where! And I won’t drink wine or champagne out of anything but glass (and now I need it to be a GOOD glass!….). You are experiencing such a treat.

    Like

    • gooddayrome September 26, 2015 at 05:59 #

      Ric is good at supplying fodder for this blog. One of his observations was that at 8.00 CHF per glass, the wine, at least, was cheaper than by-the-glass options we had in San Francisco, Seattle and Portland.

      Like

  5. gayleseely September 25, 2015 at 16:25 #

    We loved Zermatt and didn’t have the perfect weather you had. I hated to leave and seeing this post I can see I need to get back there. Thanks!

    Like

    • gooddayrome September 26, 2015 at 05:57 #

      Always time for a return trip! You can swing by Roma!

      Like

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