So I finally put together the last part of Switzerland, this time from Zermatt, where we spent two days. I hope you’re not tired of my mountains posts!:)
Anyways, since cars are not allowed to enter Zermatt, everyone has to leave the car in the near village called Täsch and get on an electric train that goes right in the center of Zermatt. In Täsch, there is a huge parking lot at the Matterhorn Terminal Täsch, where the parking costs about 30CHF for two days. Crazy, I know, but there is no other option unfortunately.
Well, now the confusion starts. One day pass to all cableways in Zermatt costs around 170CHF, two days around 195CHF (which doesn’t really make sense, but there is nothing you can do about it). This pass also applies to this electric train from Täsch to Zermatt, so if you arrive in the morning, it is worthwhile to buy the pass right at the terminal in Täsch since it includes the train as well. The joke is that the two-day pass isn’t valid for 48 hours, but just from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, just in between those times when the cable cars run. Since we arrived late in the afternoon, we would use the full-day pass just for about two hours. So we paid the electric train separately – that’s about 8CHF – and decided to buy the two-day pass the next morning, so we can enjoy two full days.
This pass will definitely pay off because one round trip to Klein Matterhorn is about 95CHF and there are definitely at least three worth-seeing mountains in Zermatt, so even a student of economy such as me realized there was no point in buying each one separately, hahaha:)
Anyways, we arrived in Zermatt and were looking for a campground. There is only one in Zermatt, so you don’t have a choice. But I have to say it was really bad. We felt like we were on some guy’s garden, but the showers were all we needed, so we didn’t really complain. For one person I think it’s about 15CHF/night. Anyways, if you have some other option, avoid this campground. If you don’t need a shower, I will tell you one more spot, right in the mountains overlooking the Matterhorn, where you can sleep in a tent without breaking the rules. Unfortunately we found it the last day, when we were leaving:(
In Zermatt, of course, camping outside of a campinground is obviously forbidden, but at this place we saw about 5 tents, so I dare to say that it’s outside of the nature reserve and therefore it’s allowed hahaha:) It’s at Lake Stellisee, which is a short walk from the Blauherd cable car station (on the way to Rothorn). (Google this place! Isn’t it perfect for camping?!!?)
When we pitched the tent, we walked briskly through downtown, made some dinner, and went to sleep, so we could go with the first cable car in the morning to Gornergrat (3089 m). It went at about 7:30am I think. This cable car was more of an electric train than an actual cable car. Thank God we took the first one, because we were almost alone there. When I think of how many people were in Zermatt the night before, it seemed quite unbelievable. I guess the Asians were still asleep, haha:)
At first, we went all the way up to Gornergrat and then walked down to & Riffelsee. The weather was wonderful, although it was a bit cold. No wonder at 3,000 meters above sea level at 8am! You can climb a little higher up from the cable car station and I have to say that I had problems with breathing. Three minutes up the hill totally got me! I felt like I couldn’t really breathe in, and my heart was beating at an incredible speed (meh, looking forward to Mt Blanc, hahaa:).
After about 20 minutes, we started climbing down the trail to Rotenboden. Ironically, there were no people on those trails at all! It seemed like everyone got off the cable car, took pictures, went back into the cable car and rode back down to another station, where this process was repeated. The sky was blue and the morning mountain wind was blowing. We only heard the birds and our own steps. We were looking at Matterhorn the whole way and it was just stunning!
We came to Riffelsee, where we had a snack. Of course healthy! (Aka bread with butter and jam, haha). We sat down on one of the stones and chilled for about an hour. I think I even fell asleep for a while. And I burned my nose.
But in a while, the crowds of Asians started to invade us. Unfortunately, this fantastic lake, that reflects Matterhorn, is about two minutes by foot from the Rotenboden station, so it’s easily accessible to Asian tourists in flip-flops.
We continued our hike to Riffelberg. It could have been about 8 kilometers, but it was downhill, so pretty easy 🙂 Here we boarded the cable car and left back to Zermatt, where we just transferred to another cable car. This time it was gonna take us to the highest station in the Alps (Perhaps in Europe?).
This cable car takes you to Klein Matterhorn at an altitude of 3883 m.a.s.l. That was the highest I’ve ever been!
Originally we wanted to hike Breithorn (4164 m.a.s.l.), but when we saw the cracks in the glacier and the avalanche-looking piles of snow, we gave it up. Besides that, they wouldn’t let us because there is no paths. Upstairs there is a restaurant, a lookout and an ice tunnel, which is also worth seeing.
As far as temperatures goes, don’t forget to take warm clothes, because in Zermatt there was about 30°C at noon and here it was 2°C plus super-cold wind was blowing, so we spent about ten minutes at the lookout.
We jumped back on the cable car and went down to the station below called Trockener Steg, where we were the closest to Matterhorn whatsoever. It wouldn’t be Switzerland if there wasn’t a cool glacier lake, so we sat down, chilled and enjoyed the mountain atmosphere. I even managed to bring a pretzel! Hhaha:)
In the evening, we went back to our camp and had some dinner. In the morning, we went to our last destination called Rothorn (3103 m.a.s.l.). But since it was still mid-June, the cableway all the way to Rothorn was closed (as well as the one to Schwarzsee), so the highest we got was Blauherd (2571 m.a.s.l.). Here we walked to Stelliseelake, about which I wrote a few paragraphs earlier.
From Stellisee, we walked back to Sunnegga station, where we saw a bunch of people with parachutes. We wanted to jump as well, because there is no better place for paragliding than here. The price was quite acceptable (about 170CHF), but the first free time was late in the afternoon and we had to be on our way back to Prague by that time.
At noon we headed back to Täsch, picked up the car and started a nine-hour drive to Prague. Unfortunately, there was a national holiday in Switzerland, so instead of 9 hours, it took us 12. The traffic was terrible.
Now, let’s get to the price of this trip, as many of you guys asked me to write about. A five-day trip to Switzerland by car cost about 12,000 CZK/person. For the first two days, we practically didn’t spend anything (except gas and some food), because we slept in the nature and didn’t ride the cable cars. Zermatt is incredibly expensive and I wouldn’t want to stay for more than two days there. Two days for ordinary tourists were just perfect 🙂 We didn’t spend much on gas in Switzerland, because everything is quite close. Here, in the mountains the gas costs about 40 CZK/l, so I recommend to get your tank full in Germany.
We also had to buy a toll sticker for the highway, which was about 40CHF/year (they don’t have anything for shorter amount of time). They actually forced us to buy it right at the border, where they stopped & searched almost every car.
Food in restaurants is incredibly expensive, so if you drive by car, I recommend taking something from the Czech Republic. In grocery stores we only bought bread and some other stuff. Water is drinkable everywhere, and even can be drank from local glacier rivers. I’ve never drank cleaner & better water!
What you have to pay attention to, is the phone calls, internet and messages. Switzerland is the only countrie in Europe which didn’t accept the new tariffs, so a message cost me 99 CZK and 1MB (!!!!!!!!!) of data was 199 CZK. Do you understand that?!?!?!? So I recommend switching your phone to airplane mode, otherwise you might be a bit surprise when you get the bill!:)
Oh and one more thing, the Czechs don’t need a passport to get to Switzerland!:) Your ID is just fine.
If you are interested in anything else, just write me in the comments, I’ll try to answer everything! 🙂