Gornergrat, Switzerland

Gornergrat Switzerland

“You have to get here this Friday coz I have booked the hotel at Zermatt for the weekend” she instructs from her hotel room in Vevey.

I am in Kuala Lumpur for 2017 food adventure on my way to Europe to meet Mysaucepan who has been there for the last three weeks for business.

From Vevey, we take a 3-hour train journey heading south-east, passing through the towns of Montreux, Martigny, Fully, Saxo, Sierre, changing trains at Visp before arriving at our final destination in Zermatt.

Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt town centre

Along Bahnhofstrasse in Zermatt town centre

Renown for snow skiing in winter, hiking and mountaineering in summer, Zermatt is a mountain resort in the Valais region in southern Switzerland.

Located in the German-speaking area of Switzerland in the south near the Italian border, it has a population of about 6,000 inhabitants.

It is a beautiful day and the vibe is exciting with skiers preparing their day and tourists checking out the restaurants and shops.

Strolling along Bahnhofstrasse, Zermatt

Strolling along Bahnhofstrasse, Zermatt

The main street, Bahnhofstrasse is lined with hotels, small chalets, restaurants and boutique shops with luxury brands that include the likes of Rolex, Bally and Omega.

Perhaps one of Zermatt’s main attraction is its streets being car-free. I did not recall seeing anyone on bicycles but the only transportation vehicles I noticed were miniature taxis that ferry two people with luggage and the driver up and down the main street.

There are public outdoor skating rinks, bars and clubs for après-ski activities.

Zermatt Unplugged - Music in the snow

Zermatt Unplugged – Music in the snow

There is also a program for music in the coming spring. It’s impressive playing the piano in the snow but even more impressive making beautiful music with icy cold fingers.

Vacation accommodation along Oberdorfstrasse, Zermatt

Vacation accommodation along Oberdorfstrasse, Zermatt

We decide to walk from the train station to our hotel located approximately 900 metres up from Bahnhofstrasse that becomes Oberdorfstrasse.

Walking to our hotel along Oberdorfstrasse

Walking to our hotel along Oberdorfstrasse, Zermatt

We get a glimpse of Hotel Alpenblick on Oberdorfstrasse where we are staying for two nights.

Swiss chalets along the Matter Vispa river, Zermatt

Swiss chalets along the Matter Vispa river, Zermatt

We settle into our hotel for a short rest.

It a beautiful day and I love the scenic winter landscape. The Matter Vispa river is flowing swiftly today.

Night shopping along Bahnhofstrasse, Zermatt

Night shopping along Bahnhofstrasse, Zermatt

As night falls, the atmosphere along Bahnhofstrasse is vibrant with shopper and diners.

Restaurants and shops along Bahnhofstrasse, Zermatt

Restaurants and shops along Bahnhofstrasse, Zermatt

One thing I noticed is there seems to be a lot more cigarette smokers in Switzerland compared to Australia.

Some fancy outlets have sofa chairs outside with side tables and ashtrays for those needing a puff.

Icebar at front of Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, Bahnhofstrasse, Zermatt

Icebar at front of Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, Bahnhofstrasse, Zermatt

When I can resist a scotch on the rocks at an ice bar in this glorious freezing weather, yep, I am recovering from food poisoning on my first day in Switzerland.

I think the roast chicken on the flight from Abu Dhabi to Geneva did it to me.

Dinner at Restaurant Whymper-Stube, Zermatt

Dining room, Restaurant Whymper-Stube, Zermatt

Dining room, Restaurant Whymper-Stube, Zermatt

 

Mysaucepan did some research and Restaurant Whymper-Stube located along Bahnhofstrasse appears to be renown for its Swiss fondue.

She called the restaurant and it was fully booked tonight and was adamant we won’t get a table as we walked past. I insisted in trying and true enough, there was a last table for two because of a “no show”.

It is only a small restaurant that seats about fifty diners.

Fondue Bourguignonne (CHF45 or $A$60 per person minimum 2 persons)

Fondue Bourguignonne (CHF45 or $A$60 per person minimum 2 persons)

When in Switzerland, do what the Swiss do, especially in the freezing winter.

My favourite is meat fondue fried in oil (called Bourguignonne) as opposed to meat fondue in broth (called Chinoise). I am not a fan of cheese or chocolate fondues though.

This fondue Bourguignonne comes with pickled carrot, celeriac, cucumber and tomatoes. Included is a huge cone of french fries and 4 kinds of dipping sauces and fruits. I thoroughly enjoyed this dinner with Mysaucepan.

From top: pickled carrot, cucumber, tomatoes pickled celeriac and walnut

From top: pickled carrot, cucumber, tomatoes pickled celeriac and walnut

I like this tangy pickled celeriac with crunchy walnuts as an appetizer.

French fries in a large paper cone

French fries in a large paper cone

As I am trying to recover from a mild bout of food poisoning, these French fries was strangely unappetizing to me though they were good.

Chunks of eye fillet for fondue Bourguignonne

Chunks of eye fillet for fondue Bourguignonne

On seeing these hearty chunks of eye fillet, my appetite seem to mysteriously return in an instant.

Eye fillet from the fondue pot

Eye fillet from the fondue pot

The beef is nicely caramelized and super tender with just about 40 seconds in simmering hot oil.

There is a variety of dips to accompany the meat – curry mayo (which was a no-no for me), chipotle, tartare and garlic mayo which was my favourite.

Night sky above the Matter Vispa river, Zermatt

Night sky above the Matter Vispa river, Zermatt

It’s a beautiful night with stars in the clear skies. The sound of rushing water from the Matter Vispa river tells me the water is very cold.

Momentarily, I spare a thought for those 1,500 souls that perished when RMS Titanic sank into the freezing cold waters of the North Altantic ocean in the early hours of 15 April 1912 after colliding with an iceberg. At such severe temperature, I understand death from hypothermia comes within 45 seconds.

Breakfast at Hotel Alpenblick, Zermatt

Breakfast at Hotel Alpenblick, Zermatt

We breakfast early the next morning in preparation to catch a 30-minute train ride on the Gornergrat Bahn up to Gornergrat.

Gornergrat, Switzerland

View from Gornergrat Bahn on the way up to Gornergrat

View from Gornergrat Bahn on the way up to Gornergrat

I often wonder what is it about freezing weather that I so love.

Perhaps it is the fairy tales with winter wonderlands that I have read about while growing up in hot and humid Malaysia.

View from Gornergrat Bahn on the way up to Gornergrat

View from Gornergrat Bahn on the way up to Gornergrat

This was taken from the train on the way to Zermatt.

Maybe I should live in a city with burning hot beach weather and freezing winters. Is there such a place on Earth?

A glimpse of the iconic Matterhorn and alpine village in the foreground

A glimpse of the iconic Matterhorn and alpine village in the foreground

I get a first glimpse of the iconic Matterhorn in real life after reading and seeing so many pictures of this beautiful mountain.

Alpine village and the Matterhorn in the background

Alpine village and the Matterhorn in the background

The iconic Matterhorn which is the 10th highest peak in Switzerland at 4,478m above sea level stands majestically behind this small alpine village.

Rotenboden station at Gronergrat

Rotenboden station at Gronergrat

The Gornergrat Bahn takes skiers and tourists up to the Gornergrat peak via Riffelalp, Rotenboden and Riffelberg, (with limited stops at Findelbach and Landtunnel just above Zermatt.

At 3,089 metres above sea level, the Gornergrat is the highest open-air railway station in Europe.

Snow skiers at Gronergrat, Switzerland

Snow skiers at Gronergrat, Switzerland

The above image is taken from the hotel and observatory near the train station.

I expected a lot more skiiers though it is a little overcast today and perhaps snow conditions are not at its best.

"Whitechapel" ... not in London though

“Whitechapel” … not in London though

A small chapel greets us as we embark at the Gornergrat station. Next to the station, there is a hotel and observatory.

Snow skiers taking ski lessons at Gronergrat

Snow skiers taking ski lessons at Gronergrat

Young children are enjoying the snow and taking ski lessons.

Cable cars at Gornergrat

Cable cars at Gornergrat

I have never worn a safety head gear whenever I snow ski in Australia just like most Aussie skiers.

I noticed almost every skier here in Gornergrat wearing a safety helmet today.

A drink and a break on Gornergrat

A drink and a break on Gornergrat

We stop for a break and Mysaucepan gets us a couple of Cokes.

Had I known these drinks cost Euro$6 each, I would have opted for a cold beer instead.

Snow-capped mountains at Gornergrat

Snow-capped mountains at Gornergrat

Alpine trees and flora are dramatic and beautiful at every angle.

Snow-capped mountains at Gornergrat

Snow-capped mountains at Gornergrat

Summer roof deck covered with snow

Summer roof deck covered with snow

Hotel at Zematt

Hotel at Zematt

So dear readers, which is your favourite ski resort in Switzerland?

Restaurant Whymper-Stube
Bahnhofstrasse 80
Zermatt, Switzerland

Tel: +41 027 967 22 96

Opening hours: Daily from 11am – 11pm

Hotel Alpenblick Zermatt

Tel: +41 027 966 26 00
Fax: +41 027 966 26 05

Gornergrat Bahn, The Matterhorn Railway
Rail Center Gornergrat Bahn
Bahnhofplatz 7, Switzerland

E-Mail: railcenter@gornergrat.ch
Tel:  +41 0848 642 442
Fax:  +41 027 927 77 79

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