My whirlwind excursion in Zermatt continued on Sunday. I had seen that you could ski during the summer in Zermatt, but didn’t really put much thought into it considering I didn’t exactly have the clothes or equipment for it. However, Friday night, Jillian informed me that she had rented everything in Interlaken to ski while she studied abroad. I started doing a bit more research and it looked like I could, but the information online about the skiing, gondola, tickets and rentals was all a little confusing, so I dismissed the idea again.
Then I texted my family. I mentioned that I had considered skiing but didn’t think I was going to do it. The gist of the convo was, “skiing on July 24th…in the Swiss Alps…and you might not do it? Are you crazy!?”
This has no relevance to this section of the post, but I have so many pretty pictures from Switzerland and figured I’d break up the text with an image.
The front desk had been incredibly helpful so far, so I headed downstairs to see what I could figure out. The receptionist was wonderful. She looked up ticket prices, what time the gondola started, how long the mountain stayed open, found a rental shop that would give me clothes and equipment, called them to determine the cost and get their hours and gave me the website so I could check if the mountain was even open (Friday and Saturday were both closed due to high winds).
I enjoyed my fondue while contemplating what I should do. In the end, I decided that yes, it was very expensive, but in 20 years, I think I would have looked back on the weekend and been disappointed that I hadn’t done it.
I woke up at 6:00am to see if the mountain was opened. Yep! I then opened my blinds and saw it was a perfectly clear, bluebird day. I was going skiing!
I filled up on Hotel Bristol’s incredible breakfast buffet (second only to the Danish breakfast smorgasbord my parents and I enjoyed while visiting Copenhagen when I studied abroad) and walked to the ski rental place.
Literally, the Matterhorn is just your beacon all over the town. This was my walk to go skiing.
I was outfitted with pants, jacket, gloves, helmet, goggles, boots, poles and skis. And yes, I felt incredibly gross wearing clothes that had been worn (and sweated in) many, many times.
I hopped on the gondola, which I had to myself, and started the trek up. And up and up and up. The beginning of the ride is beautiful, I was basically going up the same path I hiked the day before.
But then you start to enter the winter wonderland of the Alps, and all you can see is peak after peak of snow-capped mountains.
You also go around the Matterhorn, so you can see it from different angles. I have no idea how people climb it!?
At the top of the gondola, you transfer to a cable car, from which you can see the Swiss Alps, Italian Alps and French Alps.
And finally, 45 minutes later, you are ready to ski!
There were only a couple of runs open and the conditions weren’t great, but I was skiing…on July 24th…in the Swiss Alps!
For as much as I’ve skied and traveled, I’ve never actually skied outside of the US. The scenery here is so much different.
It was absolutely breathtaking, I can’t imagine what it’s like in the winter. Guess I’ll just have to come back to check it out.
There are signs everywhere warning you to stay on the marked runs, warning of crevices if you don’t. So even though there was only one area open for skiing, I was more than happy making loop after loop. There were no chairlifts in this area so I rode a whole lot of t-bars. The Swiss and Austrian ski teams were both out practicing so it was fun to watch them going down the slalom courses.
The mountain closes at 1:00pm because the snow starts to get so slushy, so I started the trek back down. After the cable car, I realized my ski pass gave me access to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, so I checked out the viewing deck.
Back in Zermatt, I quickly stopped at the hotel to drop off my extra layers and headed back out. One of the things I really wanted to do while I was there was try Chez Vrony, a Michelin-nominated restaurant tucked into the mountains above Zermatt. You have to hike or ski to access it (or so I thought) but based on the reviews, it was more than worth it. So off I went.
The hike was no joke! I basically zigzagged my way up switchbacks, straight up a mountain. I was sweating (shocking, I know), huffing, and puffing but kept passing kids, teenagers in converse and jean shorts, overweight parents and old men walking down the hill, looking quite comfortable. Turns out, you can take a gondola up to the same area and simply walk down the mountain. Oh well, I was really earning my lunch! And the views made up for it.
I was starting to think I’d never make it to Findeln, the micro-town where Chez Vrony is nestled, when I turned around a bend and saw a group of chalets. It was like a mirage! It was now 3:30pm, I had been up since 6:00am, not eaten anything since my breakfast buffet, skied a half day and hauled my ass up an entire mountain.
If you are ever in Switzerland, you have to make your way to Zermatt. Not for the Matterhorn. Not for the skiing. Not for the hiking. But for Chez Vrony. I’m not sure if the atmosphere or the food was better.
I spent several hours simply staring at the Matterhorn, enjoying my burger, beer and coffee. I also spent an entire paycheck on my burger, beer and coffee. But it was totally worth it.
While relishing the scenery…
…I was thinking about how glad I was that I went on this solo trip to Switzerland. My friend Missy has taken several solo-trips and she absolutely loves them. I have done business trips by myself, but never an actual vacation. And to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. When I booked my train to Zermatt, I knew there was a possibility I’d be coming by myself. A few other girls had contemplated coming and until Friday afternoon, two were still thinking about it. But they decided to go to the sea instead and I headed up into the mountains by myself. And I see why Missy likes it so much. You’re 100% on your own schedule. Oh, I feel like skiing today? No problem, there’s no one else I need to think about. So it’s truly a personal vacation all about you. I’m not sure I could do much more than a long weekend and I liked that I had so many activities to keep myself busy, but I’m so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and did it.
Turns out, solo vacations also increase the number of selfies taken exponentially.
I feel asleep that night so worn out, but also so happy and content. What an amazing couple of days, ones I won’t soon forget!