Thursday, April 7, 2016

Zermatt, Switzerland & Skiing the Alps!!!!

So this part of the trip for Brooke and Moms Europe Part Two adventures together was actually my favorite part, for a number of reasons.  Cheese fondue- the best I have ever had (which makes sense since this caloric bomb of deliciousness originates from Switzerland), the most majestic, awe-inspiring train ride of my life winding through steep valleys, tiny alpine villages, gaping gorges and snow capped craggy mountains.  Wandering the village of Zermatt- a place I NEVER though I would ever make it to in this lifetime.  The actual skiing of the Swiss Alps, insanely bad ass, totally terrifying, hands down the most stunning views of my life.  Our hotel room which was both fancy yet totally cozy, homey and inviting.  All of it.  I LOVED this entire experience with my Mom.  It was magical, relaxing, just the best.  So, here goes:

I will begin with the train ride, as this is somewhere along the lines of where most journeys begin.  After landing in Zurich (via air), we hopped on a train which would take us to Vesp, upon which we would have to switch trains one more time in order to be delivered into the hand of the Alps (to Zermatt).  They do not make it especially easy to get there but the journey itself was well worth it and an entire experience in and of itself.

The photos below are from our train journey from Zurich to Vesp.

A brief glimpse of Bern, Switzerland out the train window.

Upon reaching the town of Vesp, Switzerland, we disembarked from our train to race across the platform to a significantly smaller one.  Charming, bright fire-engine red, it make me think of something along the lines of the Polar Express (even though it looked nothing like the black looming hulk that is depicted on the book cover of the children's story).  But the feelings this tiny train evoked were enchanting and inviting ones.  The inside was bare, compact, yet cozy.  My Mom and me settled into an all but empty car as the train started moving for not long before our jaws dropped in wonder.  

The views outside our windows were spectacular.  All of the sight we drank in were exactly as one hears when others describe Switzerland.  Storybook panoramas spread on either side of the train, as far as the eye could see.  We wove our way through gaping gorges like gigantic mouths opened up in the earth below us.  Alpine chalets dotted the looming hills that rose up on either side of us.  Rivers of the clearest, icy, glacier blue foaming white as they cascaded over rocks followed alongside the train tracks.  And finally, the Alps.  Once they appeared in the distance, impressive, incredibly looming, snow capped and craggy, impossibly high peaks, the train seemed to weave and snake its way literally towards the center of them.  It was as though we would ride right between them and be swallowed by the center.  Awesome.

Hands down the most incredible, thrilling and scenic train ride of my life.  See the following smattering of photos for a snippet of what I just described.

Finally, we set foot in Zermatt.  The town itself was exactly as I imagined and hoped it would be.  A small, snow covered, utterly charming alpine village.  Teeming with tourists but if one was able to overlook that, utterly magical, picturesque, begging to be photographed (at least by me ;-p).  We wandered the town for the afternoon together, snapping loads of photos and marveling at how incredibly gorgeous Zermatt was.  
I LOVED this.

THIS would be the view from OUR HOTEL ROOM.  Best view from a hotel room I have ever had, no question ;-)

SO cozy :-D loved it.

Making our way to the Hotel...

And now, further explorations of Zermatt...

This road was gorgeous.  And we stumbled upon it JUST as it started snowing.  Magic.

As cheese fondue is one of the supposed must-eat traditional Swiss edibles that one should sample when in the country, we decided without further ado that we needed to get our hands (or better stated, our taste buds) on some of this stuff.  So our first evening in Zermatt after having spent the entire afternoon wandering in the breathtaking village, we made our way to an old, storied, gorgeous hotel in the city center where we dined on a delicious curry shrimp soup to start and of course, as the main attraction, cheese fondue.  We chose the fondue flavored with tomatoes.  This was delectable.  Normally I loathe this word, but it was zesty, as well as totally fattening, rich, cheesy and just insanely good.  It seemed to coat the insides of our stomachs with homey tastiness.

At the end of our first day in Switzerland, the evening taking on a sparkling blanket of snow, Mom and me found our way into a swanky hotel and decided that tea, cake and Mille Bornes were just the thing.

Our second day in Zermatt, Mom woke me, excitedly whispering that if I got up and ran, I might be able to catch a crystal clear view of the world-famous Matterhorn (the second most photographed mountain in the world, in fact).  And as those who know me will not be surprised to hear, I did just that.  I jumped out of bed, pulled on my black winter boots and ski jacket, still wearing my plaid pajama pants and sprinted out the door, my camera looped over my neck.  It was 8am.  I ran down the streets of Zermatt, which were all but deserted.  My breath was visible in soft puffs in front of me.  Despite being freezing, my hands quickly dulling to numb, I was enchanted.  I loved the city at this hour.  Everything was blanketed in snow.  This was exactly the winter wonderland I had pictured and hope to experience in person.  And as I raced to the end of the straight stretch of road away from our hotel (roughly a 5 minute run), the Matterhorn stood as my Mom suggested, clear, unobstructed, totally outstanding and not even remotely overrated.

I went to town taking pictures.

A chill of awe-struck thrill rippled up my spine, just the way it did when I saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time.  This was equally as emotional and marvelous for me.  I was star-struck.  By a mountain :-D

Our hotel from the outside.

Entrance to our hotel.

God, how gorgeous is this town???

Our favorite tea spot ;-) inside this hotel.

NEXT ENTRY UP: Skiing the Swiss Alps!!!!

Countdown: 48 hours from now until posting!

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