Ride to Toblerone Mountain

As I mentioned in the previous post, we disembarked at Trockener Stegg to take the larger cable car to get to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.

Clad in layers of clothing, we now boarded the cable car. It was a relief to see the much larger and strong looking cabin as the day was gusty and drizzly. We hoped it won’t dangle and sway in the strong wind threatening to crash. Turned out, it was much more stable than the small gondolas and the ride was smooth letting us relax and enjoy the views.

Cable car to Matterhorn, Switzerland

Cable car to Matterhorn, Switzerland

As we started to move, we realized we were above several mountains now. We could see the snow covered expanses and the more unforgiving yet striking landscape around.

Views from Cable car to Matterhorn

Views from Cable car to Matterhorn

Views from Cable car to Matterhorn

Views from Cable car to Matterhorn

Finally we were here, at the final halt. We got down eagerly that we had managed to get here but also slightly dismayed that it was quite cloudy that day and hardly anything around was visible at that height. We ventured inside the station and were amazed to see it was built right inside the mountain with rugged rocks exposed everywhere.

At Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

At Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

At Matterhorn Glacier Paradise inside the mountain

At Matterhorn Glacier Paradise inside the mountain

As the observation deck came into view, our hoods went up and we stepped out in the biting cold at -1 degree Celsius. Stepping out felt like someone had kicked you in the gut and boxed your ears out. The difference in temperature was dramatic accentuated by the wind, fog and the snow around. We quickly snapped some pictures and trundled a few steps in the snow, I even picked some up with my bare hands only to realize later it was a bad idea. Chilled to the core, we now ran back inside.

At Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

At Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

At Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

At Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

People accompanying me complained of headache and nausea and so we settled in the super-heated and comfortable restaurant there. I read somewhere that the restaurant is new and it really was a very nice place at that height. Again, salute to the swiss authorities for making it convenient for tourists.

With not much to do and the views hidden behind thick clouds, we decided to head back sooner than planned. But not before going back out in the snow for a bit.

At Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

At Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

Although this excursion wasn’t ideal due to the clouds blocking all the views, we did manage to catch some from different points along the journey. Besides, the whole adventure was something that we will remember always. And it just means we have something to come back for 🙂

Another view from Cable car from Matterhorn to the lower cable station

Another view from Cable car from Matterhorn to the lower cable station

The ride back to Zermatt was smooth and uneventful. With a heavy heart we boarded the train for Interlaken regretting not making plans for an overnight stay in the pretty little town.

The Alps, the peaks, the trek, Swiss rail and the many train rides, the cable ride, the lakes, the villages, our log studio, the pretty lane in Interlaken where we stayed, the brilliant blue lakes, the vistas and the sight of paragliders high up in the mountains … Switzerland did not disappoint!

And this is where a most memorable journey comes to a close :-/

A quaint town and a treacherous ride

Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt, Switzerland

Interlaken to Zermatt turned out to be an amazing day trip for us. While originally not part of the itinerary, we decided to go for it after some deliberation. More so, as we were put off by the hordes of tourists making a bee-line for Jungfrau, “Top of Europe” (3.5K m).  Instead, we zeroed in on Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (higher at 3.8K m) accessible from Zermatt. While getting to Jungfrau lets you ride to the highest railway station, getting to Matterhorn means you get to ride to the highest cable car station. And that is an adventure in itself!

Getting to Zermatt and then to the top of Matterhorn turned out to be a lot cheaper as well. We set out by train which was covered by Swiss rail pass. While we had to interchange twice, the views along the journey were truly spectacular. It’s commendable of the swiss authorities to have developed all this infrastructure making it so easy for tourists to travel around without hassle.

Horse Carriage, Zermatt, Switzerland

Horse Carriage, Zermatt, Switzerland

Tryst with mountain goats, Zermatt, Switzerland

Tryst with mountain goats, Zermatt, Switzerland

As we got out of train station and started walking along the streets of Zermatt, we immediately fell in love with this unassuming town. The place is charming with quaint cafes, restaurants, boutiques, sloping roof chalets and stores selling hiking boots and equipment. Horse carriages and mountain goats milling around and the gushing canal along the streets makes it all the more alluring.

Canal along the street, Zermatt, Switzerland

Canal along the street, Zermatt, Switzerland

As we had set out early morning without proper breakfast, we made a pit stop at this café called Hornli Beck. The place was cozy and warm and the food turned out to be so good. Rejuvenated with the rest and some hot food in our bellies, we made our way to the cable car station. We knew that this was going to be a 40 min ride. While I had been on cable car rides before this long a ride was new for me too.

Hornli Beck, Zermatt, Switzerland

Hornli Beck, Zermatt, Switzerland

The ride starts in those small gondolas till a certain station and from there on, you ride in the much bigger more stable cabin. With much excitement we boarded the small gondola and settled on the ledges.

Cable Car ride to Matterhorn, Switzerland

Cable Car ride to Matterhorn, Switzerland

As we gained height, we could already spot the majestic Alps and the scenery around. The weather was cloudy and very windy that particular day making the ride much more adventurous as the gondolas swayed in the howling wind. There were a couple of scary moments when the gondola suddenly jerked or when the entire cable just stopped for a few mins without warning, leaving us dangling precariously with that one cable keeping us from crashing down and disintegrating into a hundred pieces. Those minutes of suspension in mid-air with utter silence around except the chilling wind whistling outside left us anxious and wondering about what was going on. I guess it was just one of those routine things when they had to stop the machinery to make some technical checks. As the gondola jerked into motion each time that happened, we heaved a sigh of relief and settled back on the ledges again.

On the cable car, Matterhorn, Switzerland

On the cable car, Matterhorn, Switzerland

We continued to ride on and now the snow covered peaks seemed much closer and the air crispier and chillier. We put on more layers of clothing in preparation as we approached the last of the stations where we needed to disembark to take the larger cable car.

Eventually, we were at the last stop called Trockener Stegg. We ran out to the open observation area to catch a glimpse of the peaks without the glass obstruction. The weather outside had transformed leaving us shocked as we stepped outside exposed to the elements. The wind was in full force threatening to misbalance us and so nippy, it threatened to freeze us right to the bones. In no time, we ran back inside under the protection of the thick walls and glass panels.

View from observation area at Trockener Stegg

View from observation area at Trockerner Stegg

We now made our way to the cable car station mentally preparing to go to the top. By now, we could imagine how cold it would get further up and were suddenly grateful for our thick jackets, hoods, socks and shoes.

We waited for the cable car now and 10 mins later, it was ready for us to board.

More on it in the next post …

A Heart Full of Wine

Here is a beautiful account of our Europe trip by Astha who joined us from India.

Do give it a read and check out her other posts as well cuz she writes so well!

Butterflies and Hurricanes

“Which was your favourite place in Europe?” they ask me.

“What was the best thing you did?”

“Why don’t you write a travelogue?”

And I just sigh, and smile, and stall before I can give them an answer. The truth is, no matter what I say to them, it will never do justice to what I really felt when I was there. My favourite city? I can’t choose, because each place amazed me in a different way. My best moment? My happiest memory? Writing about it?

It’s all too difficult. It’s almost as daunting as writing my college thesis paper. I can never feel ready.

It’s sad that the once-intrepid writer in me is lurking somewhere in the obscure recesses of my brain, overshadowed by my own self-criticism. It took a healthy dosage of Angus and Julia Stone to inspire my fickle head and my weary eyes to assimilate all…

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Swiss Hike – Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg

Switzerland was the third and the last leg of our summer euro tour. After roaming around two cities (Amsterdam and Prague), we had decided a bit of countryside will be good for us.

Lake Brienz, Interlaken

Lake Brienz, Interlaken

We flew to Zurich and took the train to Interlaken. We were told that purchasing swiss rail ticket/pass online in advance is better and so we did. It proved very useful as we hurried to catch the train from the airport. Purchasing the ticket/pass at the airport would have just meant whiling away time unnecessarily.

We chose to make Interlaken our base and visit the places/villages around it. Turned out, Interlaken was a perfect location. As the name suggest, it is situated between two lakes (Brienz and Thun) and surrounded by hills all around. We had rented a cozy studio through airbnb giving us the option of preparing light meals at home as eating out can leave a big hole in your pocket.

One of these days, we decided to go for a hike. Not a strenuous one but one of those nice leisurely kinds. We choose the one from Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg. To get there from Interlaken OST, you need to catch the train towards Lauterbrunnen and get down there and then a train towards Kliene Scheidegg and get down at Wengen. From Wengen, we took a cable car ride to Mannlichen to start our hike. The train rides will be covered in the swiss pass but you need to pay extra for the cable car.

Mannlichen, Switzerland

Mannlichen, Switzerland

Even as we got out at Wengen train station, we could already see the partly snow covered alps. It was nice and pretty here and we couldn’t resist clicking some photos. As we got out of the cable car at Mannlichen, the weather transformed into cool and breezy and the four peaks of the region, including the highest one called Jungfrau visible at close hand. A short distance away we could see several cows lazing around or grazing. The ringing of ubiquitous swiss bells hanging from their necks wafted in the wind. Envison a place surrounded by high peaks, partly snow covered, cool breeze, part sunny, part cloudy, cows and bells, a little restaurant, hikers, bikers and paragliders. The whole thing captivated our senses and after a while of gazing around and taking in the fresh alpine air, we went trigger happy once again.

Cows and Bells, Mannlichen Switzerland

Cows and Bells, Mannlichen Switzerland

We stopped at the restaurant to have some swiss rosti. Having food and drink in that divine setting was simply priceless! Satiated, we set out on our hike to Kleine Scheidegg. It is a 5.5km walk which should normally take about an hour to complete. It took us a little longer as we took a couple of pit stops to admire the place. The walk is easy and perfect for families with young children and you get enjoy great views throughout the hike.

Start of the hike, Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg

Start of the hike, Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg

Somewhere along the hike

Somewhere along the hike

From Kleine Scheidegg, we again took the train to get back. From KS to Grindlewald though, we had to buy tickets as we were informed the journey wasn’t covered in the pass. From GW to Interlaken, we used the pass as usual.

While the hike itself isn’t so tiring, the whole escapade did leave us spent and we slept like babies that night. It’s something we thoroughly enjoyed and I recommend it strongly.

Well, that’s it for now peeps. Wishing you the best of travel adventures!

PS: More swiss adventures coming soon

Views along Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg hike

Views along Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg hike