Zermatt is charming. Most of the buildings here serve as hotels and they are built in the Alpine chalet style. Edged between the chalets, stand old log cabin-type structures. Some of them are turned into cutesy houses, but the others seem abandoned and are straight out of a Russian fairytale. Those familiar with Baba Yaga, would immediately recognize the unmistakable izbushkas on chicken feet. Only, the Swiss version of the chicken feet is more like elephant legs – short and stout, and kinda rotund. Moreover, the izbushkas don’t seem to have doors, at least, not in the front, and I just wanted to call out to them, “Izbushka, izbushka, turn your back to the woods, and your front to me,” and wait until it hobbles around on its elephant legs.
Leaving the town behind, we went to one of the ski lifts and took a gondola first, then switched to a cable car, then took an elevator, then walked several flights of stairs to arrive onto the highest viewing platform in the area, situated on Klein Matterhorn at about 13,000 feet.
Now, you know, I am not new to high altitudes. Why, the highest peak on the Inca Trail reached almost 14,000 feet. But here, we went from 5,000 feet to 13,000 in no time, and rarified air hit us like a ton of bricks. I was dizzy, my legs wobbly, my head cracking with a headache, and my eyes felt as if the prophesied macular degeneration had suddenly struck me with no warning.
We had to sit down on a bench facing a wooden Jesus affixed to a large cross on the platform railing, and let our bodies readjust.
The panorama around us was worth the suffering we endured. We were in the clouds, surrounded by majestic mountains in a winter wonderland in June. Hey, there were skiers and snowboarders zooming down the hills all around us.
Having observed the mountains from different angles and elevations, we descended into the valley and trotted to another ski lift with another bunch of skiers (mostly Italian, and thus, naturally, looking like models).
This lift was a cog-wheel train huffing and puffing up the mountain to Gornergrat, at an elevation of a mere 10,000 feet. That meager elevation did not even affect us. From the top of this mountain, we got a great view of the regal Matterhorn, and then boarded the train to go down a couple of stops to hike between two of the lower stops. After the Inca Trail that was a stroll, not a hike.
We hiked down from Riffelberg to the only hotel in Riffelalp built into a mountain slope and facing the Matterhorn and a valley in front of it. The view was magnificent!
This hotel was a proud owner of a life-size replica of a red wooden toy train, which gave us a ride to the real train through several more stunning vistas.
Back in Zermatt, I rewarded myself with an excellent black current ice cream.
Tomorrow we are leaving German Switzerland and going to the French part of the country.


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