Saturday 25 May 2019

Zermatt & Interlaken: A Tale of Two Peaks

On this trip I’m being hosted by Switzerland Tourism, and travelling via the excellent Swiss Travel Pass.

On any brief trip to a destination you’re rolling dice with the weather gods. There’s always a chance you’ll be there on a day when it’s raining, or snowed in, or in some other way not ideal.

I was playing that game earlier this week in Switzerland. Having arrived in Zermatt via the excellent Glacier Express train from St Moritz, I was due to take the local cog railway up to the Gornergrat, a peak above the town which would give me a view of the fabled Matterhorn.

But it was, as you can see, snowing.

I didn’t mind. I hadn’t seen snow in any quantity since 2006, when I did a research job for Lonely Planet in the depths of winter in Poland. 

It was charming to see it again under controlled circumstances, and in any case I was quite interested in the cog railway - in the photo above you can see the central cogs, by which the train is able to haul itself up over steeper inclines than would normally be possible.

Climbing up from Zermatt, we passed green slopes tinged with the remnant snow of winter, then hauled up further to properly snowy slopes and finally the Gornergrat station itself:

At 3089 metres above sea level, that’s the highest I’ve even been, so I was impressed. As I also was with the hotel and cafe complex at the summit. A few hours earlier I’d got up at 5am to watch the final episode of Game of Thrones, so to my bleary eyes this building somewhat resembled Winterfell after Winter had arrived:

And I did get to see the Matterhorn, sort of, in the form of a chocolate sculpture which had as many grams as the mountain has metres of altitude. Make of that what you will:

A few days later I was in Interlaken, another busy tourist town. The weather had cleared somewhat by now, so I took the funicular railway to Harder Kulm, a peak above the town at 1322 metres altitude.

It was still fairly cloudy but much warmer, and there were hints of mountain peaks here and there around us. Also the cafe above Harder Kulm is a lovely old timber building, with a striking observation platform that projects out from the mountainside:

At the end of the day I took to a cruise along the waters of the Thunersee, one of the lakes which flank the town, thus proving that you don’t have to go high to enjoy Switzerland’s consistently beautiful scenery:

And everywhere you go in Switzerland there is excellent chocolate (this lot was snapped at the Funky Chocolate Club in Interlaken):

Never underestimate the power of Swiss chocolate to make up for unwanted changes in the weather.

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