Over the mountain x2

Trip Start May 14, 2012
Trip End Jul 23, 2012

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What I did

Flag of Switzerland  , Valais,
Saturday, June 9, 2012

When we got up the next morning, we found ourselves surrounded by clear mountains that were visibly gigantic but a cloud-base in the valley made it impossible to see the tops. Because of this, we sat down at a coffee shop with a view of Mont Blanc and slowly watched the clouds recede revealing the glacier and the multiple peaks surrounding us. While we watched, a number of paragliders emerged from the clouds and spiraled around the summit. After our little coffee pit stop we drove around the valley to get a better glimpse of the glacier, and then we set off on our way to the Swiss Alps!

We had a beautiful but crazy drive down to Switzerland, the road was just hair pin bends switchbacking down the mountains. We were on our way down the mountain, and a few cyclists were making their epic pilgrimage up the mountain. They are courageous souls!!! Sheila, from our side of the tracks, took the terrain like a pro. We reached the town of Tache by 1.30m, the only way up to Zermatt was via a train from Tache, so of course the 10 minute train ride was 14E each, and the parking of the car was 13E, neither of which you could avoid if you actually wanted to see the Matterhorn. Apparently, there are NO CARS allowed in Zermatt, however, when we reached Zermatt, we realized there were lots of cars, just not tourist cars! Fair enough, what  great revenue that must create! The Matterhorn was beautiful and very unique – I had never seen a mountain like it before, and it was nice to know that there wasn't a way up by a Gondola or a chair lift, you had to get up there by your own energy and will, and that gave the mountain a bit of mystery still. The old town of Zermatt was beautiful – there were old log cabins built on to stone columns (that looked a little rickety but probably had been there for hundreds of years!) I am assuming to stop flooding when the snow melt-off begins in spring. We walked to the top of one of the hills and just sat away from the crowd with a great view of the mountains and drank beer that we had stowed in our backpack J We felt like rebels!

Though we did not give Zermatt too much of our time (just an afternoon really) we both preferred the vibe in Chamonix. Maybe it is just because of the fact that we weren’t in our car and everything was very expensive, but I just felt a bit cheated by how much you had to pay just to glimpse the Matterhorn. And there were MANY people paying this. I think it would be a completely different vibe in winter for skiing, but for the summer months it was a little too touristy for our liking. Which is ironic considering we are definitely tourists!!

We then had the idea to get on the road and drive back to Italy that evening but only got as far as Semplan (well, before Semplan) and then decided we had driven enough. We had dinner in a little Italian restaurant (still in Switzerland) had some pasta, and then decided to keep driving on south, or at least to get to the next town before we made camp for the night. We ended up stopping on a pass, right in the middle of the mountains, in a pull out with a lovely public washroom! It was dark and a bit of a crazy drive up and up the winding mountain roads – if we had had any idea the roads were that steep we never would have tackled them at night, especially as it started raining when we were on our way. Anyway, we stopped and parked between two motorhomes that were doing the same thing we were, just trying to catch some shut eye. We were safe and dry camping in our little car.
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