Chasing Trains Day 1: Zermatt

No matter how carefully I plan them, my trips inevitably begin with something stressful. In the case of my Great European Misadventure, it was (surprise, surprise) AirPhil express-induced. In the end I decided to just let it go; I was simply not going to let them ruin my holiday. And then, as I was packing for my trip with my TV tuned in to CNN (primarily because it was the only English channel), I happened to witness the live feed of the Newton shooting incident. So there I was, anxious and excited and nervous for my first solo vacation, stunned speechless and unable to comprehend how evil things can happen to little children. So much for a good start, huh?

Intermission: If you're wondering how I manage to remember all this almost half a year later, I have pretty good memory. Nah, who am I kidding. I have a travel diary app :D

Anyway, the next morning I was off to my first destination: Switzerland! I managed to hitch a ride with the hotel shuttle to Frankfurt, because some guests were going to the airport. The shuttle driver was a very nice Serbian guy who was quick to demonstrate just how so very wonderful the autobahn was when the speed limits are turned off. We actually hit a bird, or at least he says it was a bird. I was too sleepy to process things.

From the airport there is a direct train to Switzerland. Since I was using my Eurail pass I got to sit at the first-class compartment. I must say, of all the trains I've boarded I love Germany's ICE the most.

It helps that the train conductor gave me a pack of gummy bears :D

I arrived at Bassel around 11, after which I had three more trains to chase after to get to Zermatt. One thing of note about Swiss train connections is how the waiting time is just enough for you to get from one platform to the next. No wandering about or getting lost in the station, lest you miss your next train.

Two minutes in I have already decided, from the warm comfort of the train, that Switzerland is pretty darn awesome.

There is that one crazy episode where, upon boarding one of the trains (to Visp, I think), I looked around and realized, with a bit of horror, that I was the only person under eighty in the compartment. I panicked and transferred because who knows, it may be a senior-citizen-only cabin or something (as it turns out, the youth of Europe boarded the train shortly afterwards). So I transferred to a more crowded part of the train. As I settled down, I noticed a backpack a few seats beside me with no apparent owner. I would like to remind everybody that at this point in time, I have had very little sleep and quite a bit of stress. So my overcaffeinated brain decides that this backpack is a bomb and will blow up anytime, and I stared at it with crazy eyes until I finally had to alight. Praning kung praning.

There was also a bit of a panic (again!) on the last train because I found out, just right after I boarded, that this wasn't covered by my Eurail pass. But I was already on the train, so what was I supposed to do? And all around me there were signs about penalties for boarding trains without tickets and such. The horror. Thankfully the conductor allowed me to pay for my ticket on board, with some discount even (the tiny concession for having a Eurail pass).

It was quite a long ride, but the moment I hopped off the train I knew it was worth it.

Zermatt is a small and utterly charming town at the foot of the Matterhorn, that uniquely-shaped mountain on your Toblerone bar. It is also completely car-free, save for a few electric vehicles to ferry tourists to the hotels.

Room rates skyrocket at this time of the year, so the hotel I managed to book was one of the farthest from the station. However, I still managed to reach it on foot with my luggage in tow - the town is that small.

My room was nothing fancy, but the hotel did have a balcony from which you can view the rest of the town, which was the very first thing I did.

I had to pinch myself because it felt like I was in a storybook.

True enough, on a clear day you can see the Matterhorn peeking through.

I then took a short stroll across the town. There's not much to do, unless you plan on going up the mountains or indulge in some winter sports. But I was fine with just walking around and soaking in all the pretty.

I didn't think it was possible, but everything was even more charming at night.

After I was convinced I have seen every nook and cranny and after buying as much Swiss army knives as I can legally carry across the border (for pasalubong, you see), I decided to call it a night. I have a pretty long journey ahead of me, and as far as I can tell things are looking up :)

No comments