Switzerland - Hiking to Zermatt!

Hello everyone!

Sorry for my recent silence on social media and this blog - I was busy vacationing! 

After two years, we finally made it to the land of cheese, chocolates and the alps... Switzerland! This country was on my travel bucket list and I really wished to visit it in my life. And when better to do hikes in Switzerland, when my knees have not given way? 

Our first day was just filled with making plane and train connections, and start to acclimatise to both the environment and culture. 

The funny thing was that we accidentally took a scenic train called the Glacier Express to Zermatt. There, we learnt to do something important - pull the windows down for great pictures and fresh alpine air!

Zermatt is a town that is located below the iconic Matterhorn peak. The Matterhorn is one of the highest peaks in Europe and is super iconic - you can spot it on the famous chocolate, Toblerone!

We catch snatches of it when the clouds give us a chance. 

We decided to kick off our trip in Zermatt because we mainly wanted to hike.

Zermatt is a very touristy but charming town. Though located in the mountains, there are plenty of shops like Laderach and Rolex, 3 or more supermarkets, restaurants and cafes, a Decathlon, and even an open tennis court!

Every day we enjoyed a peaceful 15minute walk from our accommodation to the train station. It was sublime.

Lovely tulips along the way. 

We wanted to visit Gornergrat and do a hike, so we bought tickets for the Gornergratbahn. With your Swiss Travel Pass, you will enjoy a 50% discount. 

Off we go! Fun stuff: you tap your ticket on the entrance 'board', which does not in any way look like a scanning machine.

First of many views of the peak, from the train!

First we visited the last station at the top - Gornergrat! Here, you enjoy stunning views of the Alps. There were many people who brought Toblerone up just to match it up with the actual Matterhorn peak. 

I spotted some travellers were dressed in shorts and t-shirts and had large towels wrapped around them. They're probably part of a tour group and they even popped a champagne - perhaps to celebrate the wonderful view. 

It was freezing for me though!! The face mask doubles up as protection from the biting cold.

We also met a friendly, adorable alpine bird that was black with a yellow beak. Didn't manage to snap a picture because he soon flew away.

We were unsure if the hiking trails were open because there was still snow and that made things very slippery and dangerous. So we consulted the office and they said that you could still hike the trails but they would not recommend it as they already had to assist some people who met with accidents. Someone also lost a shoe, the staff said.

In these little offices I also found some stamps and inked some vintage looking postcards I bought from the town.

You may want to look out for these stamps if you're into journalling or scrapbooking too.

Being beginner hikers that have only hiked in mostly flat, unchallenging terrain in Singapore, we followed his recommendations and gave up the idea of hiking from Gornergrat to Riffleberg. Instead, we hopped on the train once more and got off at Riffleberg and attempted our '5h' hike to Zermatt. 

At first we still encountered ice and slush. A fellow tall traveller in a t-shirt and hiking boots was also assessing the situation. In the end a Korean couple led the way and easily made their way across the snow and small stream. They disappeared quickly while we struggled. We wondered if we were biting off more than we could chew.

However, once we got past the snow, it wasn't so bad! You may think hiking in snow is fine - but bear in mind that you are hiking in hard snow downhill = you may slip and fall easily down the slopes. Even the soft, icy and slushy kind of snow can be super slippery (and wet) too. Summer season just officially started so there was still snow on the paths.

Later, the path became a wide, downhill gravel path. You could see the train coming and going. We played with the panorama function and had lots of fun down these easy straightforward slopes!

On a flatter plateau area, we touched the cool water from mountain streams, spotted cute marmots and took plenty of photographs. Marmots are large ground squirrels. They are adorable but you will also find marmot oil being sold in stores in Zermatt town...

Colours are so vivd here!

We even called our families to show them the beautiful view! It was exhilarating and humbling to be hiking to this.

The dirt path led us into the forest. I really liked this part. I thought of Winnie the Pooh a lot.

Then things started to get steep and the descent really hurt our knees.

Later we spotted the Korean couple again, and saw that they were zig-zagging their way down with utter ease. We copied them and to our surprise, it really eased the pressure off our knees. We applied this method to all our future hikes. It really saved our knees and made us more time-efficient! THANK YOU, strangers!

Can't believe we started hiking from the place at the right hand corner. Riffelberg is 2582m! 

We spotted animals on our way down to Zermatt. Sometimes, you smell them before you spot them.

The stream? river? had fast currents and icy waters.  I wonder if anyone has tried travelling down in a small boat?

Slowly, but surely, we edged closer to town. Spotted families having barbeques and kids playing football. How idyllic!

Also saw this scary looking high elements obstacle course... largely without a safety net. Lol. You would never even dare to propose building this in Singapore.

Spotted our first public fountain with fresh water from the Alps! Dang, the water is really sweet and refreshing. 

Humans get water from the spout while our furry friends lap enthusiastically from the trough. 

There were also loads of dandelions spotted, though I have not seen any edelweiss. Wrong season probably. Everything is beautiful in the eyes of a tourist.

We ended our day by chancing upon a Doner Kebab shop on the way home! The funny thing is that we actually listed this place as one of the food options and were pleasantly surprised to have found it without even trying.

The kebabs were 11CHF each but they were huuuuuuuuuge.

I'll end off this post here! Stay tuned for many, many more posts on Switzerland!