Julie and I have been back for a couple of days now. We have learned, for us, it is better to come back from a vacation on a Saturday. That way we are able to get to the grocery store, and make sure we can eat on Monday morning. If we wait until Sunday to return, we have to make extra trips to downtown Zurich to get to a grocery store, and since the only place open is the train station or airport the stores are swamped.
Leaving Zermatt was a bit of a headache. The Zermatt/Gornergrat Marathon was running in the morning; so we had to wait about 15 minutes to cross the street to the train station. Thank goodness we left the hotel early. For my runner friends, this one might interest you. It is basically 26 miles uphill. Zermatt is the 1/2 way point of the marathon so once you run through a town, you literally run the side of a mountain to the finish line. The race starts at 8:00 AM, and the course does not close until almost 4:00; so you have almost 8 hours to complete the race. They have cut off stations at three different points. If you do not make the cut off times, you are asked to stop running. We hiked a good portion of the course, and we were going downhill. I can not even fathom trying to run UP the course.
On Friday evening, we actually met someone new for the first time since we moved here. (Outside of work, that is.). I had put up a Tik Tok earlier in the week, and someone posted they were going to be in Zermatt for the weekend. On a whim I asked if she wanted to meet for drinks. I realized immediately how “stalkerish” that sounded, so I sent another message saying Julie would be there as well. Then I realized “Oh Great, she now thinks we are swingers.” I guess I did not come across as badly as I thought, because she sent me a message saying,”My husband and I would love to get together.” So I made a reservation at a Tapas restaurant where we could also watch the “Nati” (Swiss National Soccer Team) play. It turned out to be a great dinner. The four of us had a lot in common. They live just across the lake; so we already have another dinner planned in July! George and Kaylee think we are pretty strange for meeting someone off the internet. I was counseled by my children to be careful. I admit, it did go against everything I have ever talked to students about when we were discussing internet safety, but we had a wonderful evening.
We had some great hiking before we came home. On Thursday, we walked across the second longest pedestrian suspension bridge. It is the Charles Kuonen Hängebrücke (Suspension Bridge). The bridge was the longest in the world until this spring. The Kuonen bridge is 494 meters long. In Portugal, just about two months ago, a bridge opened that is over 500 meters. I have to tell you, though, when you are standing at one end looking across to the other it seems like it is much farther.
This was by far the most challenging hike we made. We started with a 20 minute train ride to the town of Randa. Then we hiked 1000 meters up, crossed the bridge, and hiked 1000 meters back down to the town. The downhill was not any easier than the uphill portion. The uphill portion had a pretty good trail, but it was UP!! The down hill side was over rockslides, and parts of the trail were literally going straight down the mountain. There were a couple of spots, we just sat down, and slid.
I think my favorite hike was Wednesday. We took the train to the top of Gornegratberg, where we found another bucket list item. There is a hotel right at the top, that we need to stay in for a weekend. Then we hiked down the mountain.
We found a great spot to have a fondue lunch. It was right above the lake, and we had a wonderful view of the Matterhorn.
We wound up staying here a lot later than we should have. We kept waiting for the clouds to completely clear the mountain, and for the wind to stop blowing. In the picture of the mountain, you can just see the edge of the lake what the reflection would look like if the wind were not blowing. Unfortunately, the wind never stopped; so we did not get the picture we really wanted. Oh well, I guess that means we have to go back.
Julie learned that mountain bikers are a little bit different on this hike. After we passed the stop at Riffelberg, the trail becomes about 18 inches wide. One side is the mountain wall, the other is basically wide open spaces. I mean you wouldn’t “Fall” but you would certainly tumble about 400 feet before you stopped. We had a few mountain bikes go by us, and Julie was sure we would find them crumpled and broken at the bottom of the climb.
Our last hike started with a gondola ride up to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. We went up there in February, but we both wanted to visit again. There is year around skiiing here. Between Switzerland and Italy there are over 20 KM of ski trails that are open almost 365 days per year. It was pretty wild, watching all the skiers. We then took the gondola down to Scharzsee and hiked the rest of the way down the mountain.
If you look really close in the picture you will see the moon shining behind the Matterhorn. The moon is light, but you can find it on the lower right side of the mountain. This hike was notable because of the big herd of sheep grazing on the mountain side.
The best part of hiking in Switzerland is that every hike somehow had a bar very near the end. We were able to relax with a cold beer after every single hike! I cannot recommend that ending enough.
I am pretty sure I have said this before, but the mass produced beer is SO SO SO MUCH better than back in the US. Even better when you are hot sweaty and tired after hiking 5 or 6 miles. There are the specialty beers here as well, but honestly I do not taste much difference between the two countries. But the differences between Feldschlössen, Cardinal, Appenzeller to Budweiser, Miller and Coors are vast. I truly understand now why european beer drinkers think american beer tastes like water. Don’t even get me going on lite beers. They might exist here, but I am not really sure. I do not ever remember seeing any. :).
Well that is about all for this post. I will have one more this week. I took a lot of video, and I have some video of us crossing the bridge, and also of the gondola ride up to the Glacier Paradise. I also took the liberty of speeding them up. For example the gondola ride is 35 minutes long in real time. I sped it up to a minute and a half. It is quite the trip!
I hope you have a great week, and I will see you soon. If you like my blog please put your email address in the block below, and click subscribe. You will get email reminders when I post.
I hope you enjoy the rest of the pictures. There are a lot of them: