What do you see when you look at the end of a Toblerone chocolate wrapper? If you guessed a mountain then you are correct. This is the Matterhorn, a famous mountain in Switzerland which reaches a height of 4,478m. In 1998 I was in Switzerland for technical training and together with a group of colleagues who were there for various other reasons, we decided to spend the weekend in Zermatt, the ski resort for the rich and famous. Well, we weren’t rich and famous but that didn’t stop us from trying.

So on an early Saturday morning, a motley crew of Singaporeans, a Hong Konger and an Indian took the train from Zurich to Visp, then changing to another train to Brig and finally reaching Zermatt. The entire train trip took us nearly 6 hrs from Zurich to Zermatt. However, the train ride into Zermatt is nice as the train slowly climbs up the valley and you get to see the alpine scenery.

The beautiful alpine scenery as the train passed through the valley to Zermatt.
The beautiful alpine scenery as the train passed through the valley to Zermatt. Again I had to scan these photos from old negatives and yellowing is difficult to remove completely.

Once we reached Zermatt, we had to find a place to stay for the night. Luckily it was off peak season and the various lodgings were offering steep discounts on rooms. There was a large signboard at the train station with photos and listings of the available places to stay, ranging from luxury hotels to dormitories. We just had to call the number listed and check the prices with the hotel directly. We finally settled on a traditional Swiss styled B&B. As we were the poor and infamous, we booked only 1 room for 6 of us for CHF50/night. The B&B only had common bathrooms. But as it was low season, there were just a couple of other guests besides us, so overcrowded bathrooms were not a problem.

Since it was low season, we got to choose the best room and we got a nice view of the Matterhorn from the balcony in our room. The autumn foliage was just awesome.
Since it was low season, we got to choose the best room. And we got a room facing the Matterhorn. The room had a large balcony and this is the view from it. The autumn foliage was just awesome.
The Matterhorn overlooks everything in Zermatt. This is the road that leads to the Gornergrat railway line. Internal combustion engine vehicles are not allowed in the town and only electric vehicles can be seen.
The Matterhorn overlooks everything in Zermatt. This is the road that leads to the Gornergrat railway line. Petrol or diesel engine vehicles are not allowed in the town and only electric vehicles are allowed.

There is a train that runs up to the top of Mt. Gornorgrat and costs CHF36 one way. This is a good way to see the Alps if you just want a leisurely ride with some sight seeing.

You can see the train that runs up Gornergrat, and the Matterhorn behind.
You can see the train that runs up Mt. Gornergrat, and the Matterhorn behind.
Walking around Mt. Gornorgrat station. What is that goat doing up there?
Walking around Mt. Gornorgrat station. What is that goat doing up there?
The one horned mountain goat. He must be really thirsty, because he kept licking at the frozen water.
The one horned mountain goat. He must be really thirsty, because he kept licking at the frozen water.
A small lake where you can get a beautiful reflection of the Matterhorn in summer.
A small lake where you can get a beautiful reflection of the Matterhorn in summer. The lake was frozen then and we didn’t bother to walk down to it.
You can see Zermatt town from Gornergrat. It's a really small town with just a few streets.
You can see Zermatt town from Mt. Gornergrat. It’s a really small town with just a few streets.

We had our dinner in our room with the usual Asian instant noodles and some other food bought from the local supermarket. I guess it’s always more fun in a group if you have to cook your meals in the hotel room. We were careful not to set the whole B&B on fire since it was built mostly of wood in a traditional Swiss style.

The next morning we went to the cable car station which connects to the ski slopes. The cable car runs all the way to Klein Matterhorn (Little Matterhorn). But I think we took it only halfway as the cost of a full round trip was quite expensive.

Scary view from the cable car station. The cable car ride is quite expensive (CHF82 for round trip) so we didn't take it. It goes up to Klein Matterhorn for a scenic lookout point.
Scary view from the cable car station. The cable car ride is quite expensive (CHF82 for round trip) so we didn’t take it. It goes up to Klein Matterhorn for a scenic lookout point.
Impromptu snowball fight around the snowman. I guess that's what people from the tropics do when they see snow.
Impromptu snowball fight around the snowman. I guess that’s what people from the tropics do when they see snow.
The ski slopes of Zermatt.
The ski slopes of Zermatt.
The Pennine Alps which surround Zermatt forming an imposing backdrop.
The Pennine Alps which surrounds Zermatt forming an imposing backdrop.
The Matterhorn in the evening. If this mountain looks familiar, that's because you can see it printed on every bar of Toblerone chocolate.
The Matterhorn in the evening. If this mountain looks familiar, that’s because you can see it printed on every bar of Toblerone chocolate wrapper.
What do you see?
So now you know…

As I mentioned earlier, this is the ski resort for the rich and famous. Zermatt is really quite an expensive place to stay and visit. Taking the Gornorgrat railway and cable car to visit the surrounding mountains and ski slopes would set you off by more than CHF150 per person, and that’s not counting the cost of getting to Zermatt itself. As we visited in low season, we enjoyed a good price on the room, but if you come in high season then you better have a Swiss bank account that has many zeroes behind.

Zermatt itself is pretty small and you can just walk around the main part of the town in an hour. The place comes alive during skiing season when the tourist crowd is the highest.

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