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Swiss Bliss

(running out of puns)

By Matty LongPublished 10 months ago Updated 10 months ago 7 min read

Switzerland is a country that I’m afraid I simply cannot do a budget travel advice blog for. I was lucky that this was a trip my mam and I decided on back in 2020 before the world ended, so I had plenty time to think about it.

I left Paris (see previous blog) on a double decker train, which as a train enthusiast I enjoyed more than even the front top seat of a double decker bus. And train travel in Europe, I was told by everyone, is not like in Britain. They run like absolute clockwork apparently. And the train sure did leave bang on time. I was still a little worried, however, about the 10 minute change that we had to make at our next station. The whole journey (not the train, though) was thoroughly derailed soon after, however, thanks to the actions of a tree that decided to launch itself onto the track. So much for the running like clockwork, eh. In the UK there’s the inconsiderate actions of strikers but nobody talks about the inconvenience caused by inconsiderate European trees. Bet those trees are paid a a fortune as well. Clearly not good enough for them is it.

Anyhow, as I am fluent only in English and broken French, navigating what on Earth to do next became quite an issue. It seemed, however, that we were among fellow travellers. Few were English, or Swiss, or French, but they all spoke English. I always find it embarrassing that I can only really speak English, when you go to almost any other country and they speak or pretty well alongside their mother tongue. But that’s just one of the many problems that comes with being from a former colonising nation that causes a struggling combination of shame and identity crisis when abroad. But I digress, we found a person who spoke the common language and also knew what on Earth was going on, and before long we had joined a nice little international gathering with some French, Germans, Koreans and a couple of ladies from Scotland (who spoke fantastic English). Thankfully, as well, in the Paris train station I had stocked up on leffes, so sat out the next few hours getting on it until it was time to get on the later train. Which was actually the one we had gone to a great deal of effort to book previously, to spend more time in Paris. But never mind. At least we needn’t have panicked about the ten minute change.

By the time I arrived in Zermatt, Switzerland, it was very dark, so we just went straight to where we were staying, which was a reasonably priced (for Switzerland) chalet-type hostel. Anyway I was knackered so just went to sleep. The next day was a day spent solely in Zermatt, and was the absolute highlight of my whole trip. Began the day with fantastic croissants provided free of charge by the hostel, before setting out towards the world’s highest cable car. Walking round Zermatt itself was lovely. It’s surrounded by mountains; a young JRR Tolkien visited here and it inspired the creation of the misty mountains. And as a car free zone with lovely quaint little dwellings, I think Tolkien, the reluctant traveller, would approve of Zermatt still today.

Anyhow, on we went to the cable car, which I was particularly excited about. Up it climbed and climbed and climbed, presenting lovely views of the tiny town below, and each station I thought was the top turned out not to be. Eventually a voice told us we had to disembark. But not because we were at the top, because we needed to switch to another cable car, ran by the Matterhorn glacier paradise, to take us to the very top. This one was lovely with heated seats and huge glass windows. Yet all I could see was mist. It was still good but I’d rather hoped to see mountains, Gandalf.

Fortunately, as we neared the top, a guy next to me declared “the sun has come out to shine on Matterhorn” and there we were in the beautiful mountains with gorgeous 360 degree views. But that was just the beginning. At the top station, there was an amazing ice palace with beautiful sculptures inside the mountain. And a slide - something of a helter skelter made of ice (I feel the need to share that helter skelter initially autocorrected to belter smelter there). My mam did not brave this but I eventually did. Was bloody fast. And then I couldn’t get out at the other end as I couldn’t get a grip on the ice. I sat there awaiting my doom at the arrival of a rapidly travelling bloke crashing into my spine, until another inept bloke helped me up. An experience, I think, that warranted a lovely beer in a bar that overlooked the mountains. Bliss. I think this drink convinced my mam to accompany me to the top viewing platform, where the best pictures were taken. Absolutely phenomenal. The whole trip to the top has been worth the epic falling on my arse in which I engaged several times on the ice.

The journey back down was quite something, mind. At an incredibly high point the cable car just stopped. I said to my (vertigo suffering, foolish decision on my behalf) mam that the cable car had stopped. “No no it’s just going very slowly” she lied to me and herself out of fear. Mind I was bloody terrified as well. I think these things break down a lot, though, and if it happens next time I will relax and take photos. Only about 50% of my brain will think death is coming soon next time.

We opted to get off at one station before the end and stop for a drink before hiking down to the town. I had a gorgeous drop of Swiss beer, Valaisanne.

Swiss beer is remarkable I must say. I was thinking, though, that even on the viewing platform, I had got some great views and pictures of some mountains, but not THE mountain, the Matterhorn. The great and vast toblerone. However, as we hiked down, I happened to just turn around at one point and there she was in all her glory. Perfect.

The evening came and, after a spot of souvenir shopping, we thought we’d have some nice Swiss food. My mam opted for fondue and, although it looked nice, I just don’t get fondue as a main course. It’s a starter or party food, surely? So I opted for veal, apparently a local delicacy. It was indeed very nice, as was the fondue which was very substantial meaning I had half of that as well. A fine end to a fine day in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

The next day we were travelling on the famous eight hour Glacier express, the worlds slowest express train (yeah it took me ages to get my head around it too) which travels round the mountains. A nice guard said my mom could sit next to me halfway despite her not having a seat booked there, as it was empty, but another guard insisted she leave RIGHT AWAY not long after which was charming. Anyhow, made some more international friends with the Japanese couple opposite, and was then joined by an English couple. We climbed around the beautiful Swiss alps for hours, taking in the scenery. The English lady opposite turned to her husband and said, “bit like Carlisle isn’t it?” Can’t beat the English.

Unfortunately we had to leave the Glacier express early to get to Geneva on time. Which is sad because we missed probably some of the more famous parts (those big viaducts you see in the adverts on the back of magazines). So I can’t give it a full review, but I do think there is probably a cheaper collection of trains that will take you on an equally as pretty route. In fact, the rest of the day was train travelling like that. Not quite as nice but as I say, I bet such trains are available.

I had the world’s most expensive McDonald’a. Mind it was lush - McRaclette. And the beef over there is fantastic. I don’t know what it is they put in their cows, and bought some Swiss chocolates to take home, which melted into liquid in my bag. The flight was delayed from Geneva, though (fine by me - I’m not getting on a broken plane). I just kept up with the Newcastle friendly agains Gateshead, where Gateshead were leading. As I did so, the entire Everton squad, who had been playing a friendly in Switzerland, began to queue at the next gate. Bit mad I thought aha, assumed they flew private but they got on a plane with all their fans. Being stood right next to Jordan Pickford also meant it was awkward despairing when Newcastle were 2-0 down to Gateshead.

Anyhow, wasn’t going to let that bother me when I was just appreciating one of the most amazing trips I’ve ever been on. Been a few weeks now since I got back and I still wish I was there. Absolute bliss, if I haven’t already mentioned.


About the Creator

Matty Long

Jack of all trades, master of watching movies. Also particularly fond of pizza, country music, watching football, travelling, and tea.

X: @eardstapa_

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