Friday, August 8, 2008

Zermatt with Pictures

Today I am taking the train from Zermatt to Lausanne. I'm writing this on the train, and I'll post it when I get to Lausanne. With pictures, at last!

A little bit more about the hike I took yesterday. I took an underground funicular from Zermatt up to a place called Sunegga, where I believe you can ski in the winter. I have no pictures of the underground funicular, which was ugly and cold but only took five or ten minutes. At the top there is a little place where you can get lunch and sit and enjoy the view:

There is a tiny lake called the Leisee right near the Sunegga funicular, and people were picknicking there:


The view is not bad.

Then I went uphill for a while, along very pretty somewhat skinny paths:


After a while, I came to a slightly larger lake called the Grindjisee:


I took a photo of a very nice Japanese couple and they took one of me in return. We had almost the same camera, except theirs was smaller than mine and didn't have as long of a zoom. Note my extremely sexy flip-up sunglasses, which were almost as useless as they were ugly. I forgot to bring on my hideous-but-effective clip-ons from home, so I bought these in Zermatt, because it was incredibly sunny. I am so getting prescription sunglasses next time I get my eyes checked.

A little while after the Grindjisee I ran into two guys and a dog, and they asked whether I was hiking down to Zermatt, and I said no, Riffelalp, but maybe on to Zermatt from Riffelalp, and they said that it was going to rain in a couple of hours. It was starting to look threatening, and it was getting quite a bit colder:

Actually, it didn't wait a couple of hours to start raining; it started raining almost immediately. Fortunately I had been a good hiker and packed rain gear even though it was blindingly sunny when I left. But there aren't many pictures from the second part of the hike because I didn't want to get my camer wet.

I had been planning on taking the cog railway down from Riffelalp back to Zermatt, but I got there just as one was leaving. I knew it would be 20 minutes before the next one came, and there was a signpost for a footpath down to Zermatt that said it would take 55 minutes, and it had stopped raining and I felt good, so I thought, "Why not?" Alas, the reason it theoretically only took 55 minutes to get to Zermatt via that path was because it was really, really steep. My knees and hamstrings were sad by the time I got down (in rather more than 55 minutes). It was pretty, though, zig-zagging down through a larch forest.

Also I failed to take into account that "Zermatt" wasn't going to mean "Kyle's Hotel in Zermatt", so I still had a bit of a walk up from the ski lift end of town once I got down from the mountain. All in all I ascended maybe a couple of hundred meters and then descended over a thousand. If I had thought it through beforehand and realized that 1200 meters is almost 4000 feet, I think I would have taken the cog railway! Still, the whole thing took only about four hours, including the funicular and lunch and lots and lots of photos (there are more over on Flickr).

Once I got back to my hotel it started to rain in earnest. There was thunder and heavy rain from about 3:30 to maybe 5 o'clock, and then at night there was a nice electrical storm with lightning and everything. The thunder sounded incredible, echoing off all the mountains. This morning it was cold -- 10°C when I saw a thermometer, and I that was around 9:30 and it had already warmed up a bit.

Each morning in July and August, a group of kids walks a little herd of goats right down the middle of the street on their way to pasture somewhere. I happened to catch this on my first morning in Zermatt, but I had just run out to buy some bread for lunch and I hadn't brought my camera (moral: always carry your camera). So this morning I was determined to catch them, and when I heard the goat bells while I was at breakfast in my hotel, I finished off my coffee and dashed outside to take a photo.
There was one teenage girl and a few younger kids herding the goats, who are these very dramatic-looking black and white goats which are apparently only found in the Valais. The teenage girl made me think of (my cousin) Margaret lobstering -- teenagers doing picturesque "traditional" work in a place where people are on vacation.

Speaking of touristy, Zermatt is possibly one of the most touristy places I have ever been, but I really liked it anyway. It actually reminded me of Disneyworld in a way, in that it's totally unapologetically tourist-oriented, but that's what you go there for and it's done so well you would feel like kind of a jerk if you got annoyed about it. I am sorry to be leaving, but I didn't want to stay another night and I didn't want to go on another hike without a hotel to shower at afterwards! So, onward to Lausanne, and then to Bern.

This is what I saw almost from the front door of my hotel in Zermatt the first night:




bhutchinson said...

Kyle - That was YOUR picture of the Matterhorn??? That's postcard material, with the afternoon sun reflecting off the right face, the moon to the left and clouds blowing off the summit. You've got some incredible pictures on your blog. Love reading it. Keep it up. Love, Dad.

bhutchinson said...

Are you going to Interlaken?