Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Last Zermatt Post

So, I thought it'd be helpful if I included some touristy details from our trip. Helpful for you when you decide to take the train, then plane, then train to Zermatt, and helpful for me when I return to this winter wonderland! ~~ and when you reach the end of this post, you'll be treated to yet more silly pictures*

We flew into Geneva, arriving in the early morning. So after we purchased train tickets to Zermatt, we stopped in a cafe for coffee and croissants. Then, we hopped on the train into central Geneva and met our lovely travel companions for the 3+ hour ride to Zermatt.

Here's a little map - the green line shows our train route (along Lake Geneva), and the blue area is the area where we skied and sledged - notice the Italy/Switzerland boarder.

For our first night in Zermatt, we stayed in the kick a** Coeur des Alpes hotel. C found this hotel on TripAdvisor back in December, and it really spurred the whole trip to Zermatt. The hotel is pricey, but you won't be disappointed in the service or the view (or the ginormous chocolate replicas of the Matterhorn)!
Below - the fireplace in our hotel room. Many buildings, even if they were old on the outside were full of modern design, and this hotel was no exception. The fireplace in our room::

For the rest of the week, we stayed in an apartment that we found on Craigslist! -click on Craigslist Geneva for the nearest Zermatt posts- We bought our plane tickets before having a plan as to where to sleep for the whole week. And beware - during the busy season (including Easter week), many of the cheaper hotels can fill up fast. The cost of the apartment was about equal in cost to the cheapest hotel we would have been able to find, and for that price we had so much more than one room! I was really excited that we found the apartment because it made meals for the week so easy. We ate out plenty, but being able to prepare some dinners in the apartment made for some great evenings of hanging out and playing cards. It's also great to have room to store food when you're going to be in one location for a week - it keeps costs down and allowed us to be able to pack lunches for the days we went skiing/sledding.

Zermatt ~
Zermatt's a really small town/village, you can walk across it in 15/20 minutes (maybe 30 in you're in ski boots and carrying skis!). So don't worry about location, and if anything, you may want to find a location on the edge of town so that you aren't faced with a crowd every time you step out the door. There is a great museum in the center of town where you can learn about the history of Zermatt and the adventures on the Matterhorn. The buildings in town are a mix of extremely old wooden structures, grand hotels with amazing detail (from the early 1900s, maybe late 1800s?), and many alpine chalets.

An Old Building ~ This is an old barn or storage shed - notice the large flat rocks supporting the building. This design is meant to stop mice or other rodents from getting into the barns.

The Matterhorn - Zermatt became famous as climbers tried and tried again to reach the top of the Matterhorn. The first group of 6 (or 7) climbers successfully reached the summit in 1865, but on their decent, they were met with tragedy when an inexperienced climber in the group caused half of them to fall to their death. Since 1865, many have successfully reached the top, but the cemeteries are full of the many tragedies that accompany this success. A lot of the early climbers were English, they would come into town and find a Zermatt resident to be their guide on the climb. On the first successful accent, a father/son team lead the group to the summit (they both survived).

Skiing - I only skied a couple of days, and I had a great time. The ski passes are expensive, but the area open for skiing is so wide that you won't get bored. You can buy a "lift ticket" (you have to take a train from Zermatt up to the top of the mountains, then you hop on lifts) for Zermatt only, or you can buy an "international ticket" that allows you to cross the boarder into Italy. C and I went into Italy one afternoon and we had a great time - the views are beautiful, it's less crowded, and the views are amazing.

Sledging (not sledding) - you can rent the sleds/sledges you see in our pictures for 8 swiss francs for the day (we thought it was a great price). And you can purchase a "sledging pass" which allows you to go up and down on the train all day right next to the sledge run that's on the mountain. We had an AMAZING time on the sleds. C and I rented a sledge for 2, and raced down the mountain all day! But beware - this is not an activity for the weak of heart, or neck - I felt like I had whiplash for the next 24 hours. **There was also a sledge in our apartment, so in the evening we would walk up one of the small hills and take a few short rides.

The train tracks that lead up to the fun!:: (taken from our hike - see below)

We also got around by cable car and gondola (don't miss the cable car, it's in there)!

Cinema - there's a great movie theater in town. It's a very modern theater/bar/restaurant. We went to a party there our second night in town (through a friend of C's sister), and then we returned near the end of the week for their Cine Dinner. They pull out some very cozy couches and theater seats onto the dance floor. You can watch the movie without dinner, or you can make reservations for dinner and a movie. For dinner we were served a variety of appetizers before the movie started (including a squash soup, stuffed grape leaves, sushi, small stuffed peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and delicious bread), then during the movie's intermission, we were served our main course of roasted chicken and potatoes (again so delicious!). There are no menus, so if you're vegetarian, you may have to ask if they offer a veggie-only meal. After the movie's over, the theater turns back into a bar! We saw I am Legend, in English, and every night they offered a different movie, so if you're in town for a week, you're sure to find one you like.

Hiking - on our last full day in town, the weather had warmed and the sun was out, so we went for a great hike up into the hills around the town. There are many hiking trails throughout the area, but we just wondered around. We found a great perch high above the town to sit in the sun and play cards, and along the way there were a few great surprises. Like a BEE KINGDOM! There's no other way to describe this:
And many little flowers::

And good company::

Knitting - there is a yarn shop in town! It was fun to visit, but I didn't buy anything because they seemed to carry everything that I could easily purchase in Boston.

And before we get back to our regularly scheduled programming, the silly (just a few of the pictures that don't usually get air time)::
A little Matterhorn, a little me, hehe::


And finally a three-part series, taken in this order (notice someone's still sporting his fake 'stache)::

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