We had never been to Zermatt but it has a reputation for being one of the most expensive Swiss resorts and Switzerland is expensive anyway. As there is no car access to Zermatt we stayed at a campground at Tasch not far from the last train station before Zermatt. We set up camp including the little tent for Pamela to sleep in. Little did she know what was in store for her with 4-5 degree temperatures at night for the first few days – we had coincided our arrival with an extreme cold snap which happens a few times each summer. 

The next morning we set off to meet Dominic, one of the AFS students that Pamela had hosted and whom we had got to know well, who lives in a small alpine village 1000m above the valley floor and down the valley from Zermatt. The road up was scary to say the least. It was great to see Dom again and to see his village.

The village of Torbel where Dominic lives has a very quaint old part that is maintained by a local group and is not touristy at all – it has one small hotel.

First stop after meeting Dom was the well regarded restaurant at the top of the road – at 2048m altitude – where Dom is working during the university holidays. And outside was a sign pointing to Auckland NZ and the distance (which Dom had never noticed!)

The raclette was done the traditional way by melting the cheese next to an open fire and was delicious- surprisingly not too rich.

After lunch we set off for Dom’s family’s mountain cabin – our accommodation for the night. No road access! We had to carry our bags over the meadows where the family was haymaking.

Front door of cabin

Outside the cabin

It was a wonderful experience- waking up to the sound of cow bells and having our breakfast outside in the clear mountain air.

View from the cabin – lots of summer cabins scattered over the high alpine fields
View down towards valley up to Zermatt- church tower from Torbel is just visible on the right

That day we did a panorama hike at the top of the pass – passing some of Dom’s family’s cows on the way. The black ones are fighting cows and are quite docile towards people. But the shepherd, who looks after the cows from several families, warned us to keep clear if they started locking horns.

Looking up the valley towards Zermatt

Zermatt is at the head of  a large valley with a huge array of gondolas leading up to different areas- it must be an amazing ski area. The next day we took the gondola up one area and hiked past several small lakes before walking back down to Zermatt. It actually started snowing when we got off the gondola.

Stellisee – looking up to Fluhalp, lunch stop

These goats are mainly kept for showing – think dog show

Afternoon tea stop here – superb. Wished we could have had lunch there too.
village of Findeln, known for its great restaurants

Another day we did a trip to Furi to see the suspension bridge

And then up to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise by gondola and cable car. It’s a bit like the L’Aiguille de Midi, perched on a rocky peak at 3883m altitude, with the cable car crossing across glaciers to get there. 

Surprisingly the far side is relatively flat with T bars for skiing – summer and winter – leading down into the Cervinia skifield in Italy. 

The ice sculpture cave was worth a visit

Trying out the Ice Throne for size

And we had some almost clear views of the Matterhorn on the way back down

On our return we found a herd of goats being driven down the Main Street of Zermatt much to everyone’s amusement.

We could easily have spent more time in Zermatt. It has managed to keep a mainly traditional style of architecture but we found the large numbers of electric carts a little annoying- you might think you are in a car free town but you constantly have to get out of the way of the electric carts which hurtle at speed on the roads filled with pedestrians.

Next stop – Samoens in the French Alps.

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