Sunday, July 15, 2007

CH - Zermatt

I woke up early and rode the cable car up to the top of the Eggishorn. The view was, of course, nothing short of spectacular, but I only trekked about 30 minutes westward as I knew I’d have to soon checkout from my hotel and also because I was anxious to get to Zermatt so I could get up close and personal with the legendary Matterhorn – already beckoning me from the horizon.

Due to being up late and waking up early, I slept for much of the train ride to Zermatt. Upon my emergence from the train, I found myself in a bustling car-free city. There are small electric cars for municipal use and hotel taxis, though there are a comparatively large number of horse-drawn carriages to taxi people between their hotels and the train station, as well – even though the city is completely walkable.

My hotel was located immediately across from the train station. One of the family’s operators – a young Mexican-Austrian woman – was extremely informative and a pleasure to talk to. My room – a dorm bed – was located at the top, in the attic. The attic was remarkably comfy and cosy, but the beds were arranged immediately consecutive to each other – in effect one really big bed with (in my section) five adjacent mattresses. Fortunately, I am on the end.

My adjacent bed buddy is an aged Frenchman whom was a pleasure to speak to. I just hope my barricade of blankets doesn’t budge… both in the obvious sense which is already running through your mind and also because, after having been hiking nonstop for the past two weeks and with my leg-intensive skiing in my immediate future: I am likely to squirm about a lot and kick in my sleep. I kick in my sleep even during my normal rests back in the USA. For his sake, hopefully that won’t happen!

As time was a bit limited to hit the slopes, I opted for yet more hiking. I had a filling white bratwurst (to make up for not having one in München) and hit the less snowy and much hotter slopes to the east. The scenery was good, but not a particularly huge improvement over what I could already see from town – namely, the Matterhorn.

The pleasure of the hike was offset by the intense nuisance of flies. Now I’ve been hiking before… heck I’ve been doing it everyday for the past two weeks; and nothing compares to this. It was the lesser-known Great Plague that Moses prophesised: “And God will strike down Zermatter hikers with swarms of houseflies.” Sure they don’t bite, but the downside of being male is that you can feel every single one as it breezes by your body’s hairs.

To compound frustration, despite it being an appropriate dinnertime, all of the restaurants on the mountainside apparently close at right about that time. The only thing left was a place with horrid prices for food which did not sound all that appetizing in the first place. I’d sooner starve than eat an otherwise good pasta dish ruined by prawn – and at about Sfr 50, at that! So I continued on hungry. I ultimately returned to town about 5.5 hours later, where I had a tasty döner near the church. Dagnab, do I ever love those things.

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