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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.