Sunday, 19 January 2014

Only 212 kms from Milan but another world

It was only three and half hours from Milan, but as we exited the tunnel through the Alps suddenly the train stations became graffiti-less, the sun shone, the euro became almost irrelevant, and chocolate emerged as a topic of serious conversation. Oh, and there was snow, mountains and mountains of snow. The pristine beauty of Zermatt felt like another world.
Our week's holiday in Zermatt had been planned while we were in Australia.  Friends who had lived in Switzerland for several years recommended it as one of their favourite places to ski.  Thanks to them a large group made their way from Sydney for two weeks of skiing and we joined them from Milan.
Thanks Barb for this photo and your insider's knowledge of Zermatt.

Zermatt lived up to its reputation as a winter paradise. It is nestled high in the Swiss Alps, below the Matterhorn, which looms over the ski fields and provides endlessly spectacular views.
Reaching the ski slopes is a model of Swiss efficiency.  As well as cable cars and gondolas there is also a rapid funicular train which feeds two huge elevators opening directly onto the Sunnegga ski field.  Skiers reach the chairlifts and gondolas high on the mountain in less than six minutes. 
While the Sunnegga funicular seems almost space age, the Swiss also take great pride in their old-fashioned railways.  The Gornergrat Bahn is a cog railway that has been operating for over a hundred years. It runs all year round and in winter it is included in the price of a lift pass.
This love of old and new transport modes isn't restricted to the mountain. The traditional character of Zermatt has been carefully protected. In 1966 the town made a decision to protect its unique mountain environment by banning all conventional motor vehicles, permitting only electric buses, taxis and a few private electric vehicles. Horse-drawn drays and bicycles are also part of the transport system ensuring that the spectacular views of the Matterhorn and its surrounding peaks are never draped in a polluted haze.  
Swiss traditions like fondue, 
and curling, that cold weather version of lawn bowls,
are still important parts of life in Zermatt, alongside fast trains,
 and breath-taking gondolas.
Thanks Beth for this great shot.
On top of the efficiency of the Swiss, the beauty of the mountains, the crisp clean air, and the incredible snow, it was the joy of spending time with our friends from home that transported us to another world for a wonderfully surreal week. 

Buon viaggio!

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a beautiful place Jen. So close to Italy and yet so different in a number of ways!