Somehow it seems, that Switzerland is often missing from many travellers’ lists of must-see places in Europe. It has no famous triangular structures, no gigantic clocks that you can hear from miles away and it’s not exactly what springs to mind when dreaming of a European tan… But what it does have, certainly makes up for what it doesn’t.
Pulling out of Zurich station, wasn’t anything particularly memorable. It was the eleventh city I’d visited in 4 weeks and that’s what it looked like -just another city. After a couple of changes, we got onto the final train which would take us into Zermatt. The carriages were a little rickety but the light breeze was welcomed, as the warm sun hit my cheeks – dissolving any misconceptions of Switzerland I once had.
The scenery soon changed from tall buildings to large fields, with mountains that seemed to get bigger and bigger. You could feel the train slightly struggle, as it slowly pulled it’s way up. The further we went, the more the scenery began to look like a painting. Powder blue skies filled with puffy clouds, bordered the mountains that stretched higher than I ever knew possible. Pine trees scattered across either side of the stream, covering much of the light grass that grew up the mountain. Maybe this is why the train ticket cost me an arm and a leg.
Finally, we made it to our destination of Zermatt. We stepped off the train to find our shuttle bus, where we saw a parking area full of electric cars. Well, buses – if you can call them that. The adorable little vehicles zoomed in and out, picking up guests of number of different hotels. It wasn’t until we were actually on the road that we realised why the shuttles were as small as they are. We had about 20 close calls on the way to the hotel – with walls, pedestrians and other vehicles. Yet, somehow we seemed to be the only ones who were worried. The roads were narrow and crowded in every way but hey, we made it to the hotel in one piece, so I guess it works for them.
The Matterhorn Focus Hotel was absolutely amazing, to say the very least. There was one large window that stretched across the entire room, showing off the type of view that you could never grow tired of. Admittedly, we did splurge a bit but pretty much anywhere you stay in Zermatt will have mountain views just outside the door.
As beautiful as it was right there in front of us, the next day we decided we wanted to venture further up the mountain. We had planned to take the train all the way up but those pesky ticket prices stopped us in our tracks. Instead, we got off at Riffelalp station which was about halfway up. It still offered amazing scenery both on the way there and back, but also gave us a chance to do some exploring of our own.
When we stepped off the train at Riffelalp, it was the first time on my trip, where I had a moment that truly took my breath away. Don’t get me wrong, I had moments that I was excited, surprised and happy… but I hadn’t yet looked at something and thought, how is this real? There I was, standing in a singlet and sun hat, yet there were mountain tops in my view that were covered in snow. It was completely mind-blowing and I could hardly believe I was seeing it in person.
As we followed the dusty path, I began to feel the sun sting my shoulders – leading me to question my decision to wear tight black jeans. Before I could allow my discomfort to take over, I watched as my friend perched herself on jagged shaped rock, overlooking a sea of deep green pines. Then I noticed it… silence. Not one toot of a horn or ring of a phone. No screaming children, or skateboards scraping along the pavement – not a single whisper. Something I hadn’t heard, in what felt like forever. This was nature.
In our digital age, it is only natural to pick up your phone or camera and snap away to get that perfect shot, to then post on every social media platform known to man. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t try and capture the beauty of Zermatt. What got me the most, was how in that moment all those things suddenly became a lot less important. Not a single photo could even remotely compare to the real thing – it just wasn’t possible. That’s when I realised the power a place can hold. To make you just stop… listen to the nothingness, breathe in the clear, fresh air and forget all that other stuff, even if for just a moment.
Although Switzerland may be on the pricer side, in my opinion it’s worth every penny – even if to just escape the rat race for a little while. It may not have streets full of multi-level H&M’s or beaches that you can party on till the sun goes down, but it will give you something else entirely. If you’re going all the way to Europe, you might as well, right?
Laura Jayne x