A few weeks ago, we went to Zermatt, Switzerland (home of the majestic Matterhorn) to meet up with a buddy for some hiking. When I reflect back on the trip — the week leading up to it, travelling by train, hiking, and meeting the Matterhorn — I am incapable of visualizing Luke and I experiencing these things. I, instead, visualize two Muppets. Hint: one’s pink and one’s green. This is thanks to my oldest sister, who has an innate ability to turn any situation into a plot for a Muppet Show sketch. During some past stressful experience, my sister cunningly Muppified the situation casting me as Miss Piggy (the Missy Piggy who might karate-chop the nearest person) and Luke as Kermit (not the cheerful Kermit singing the Rainbow Connection, but the one distressed with taming Miss Piggy). And so, now, whenever Luke and I are in a stressed state, I alternate between being stressed out and visualizing ourselves as Muppets (which, fortunately, is a good technique for reducing stress).
If any week was going to bring out our inner Muppets, it was the week of our trip to Zermatt. I’ll spare you the full Muppet Show script I have in my head (thanks, L!) and share with you a few of the scene titles/descriptions:
Scene 1 – Terremotto – The week starts of as Miss Piggy is rattled awake at 4AM by a 6.0 Earthquake and Kermie is in the air somewhere between LA and Amsterdam.
Scene 2 – Montage – Montage of the week before departure including jet leg & work (for Kermit), farming (for Piggy), living in a half furnished apartment, a trip to Ikea & hauling new purchases on foot down the streets of Bologna.
Scene 3 – Pack in Black – Piggy knocks outs the electricity while using the oven for the first time baking granola bars for the road. And so, the Muppets pack for their trip by flashlight.
Scene 4 – Train Go Bye-Bye – After the Bologna-Milan train arrives over an hour late and a mad dash through Milan Centrale, the Muppets miss the train to Brigg, Switzerland by a few minutes. The next train is in 5 hours…
Scene 7 – Muppets Meet the Matterhorn – All of the Muppets’ worries melt away when the sun comes out for their day of hiking in the Alps and they get their first glimpse of the Matterhorn. They break into a song and dance with some marmots and a group of mountain goats.
Like all Muppet shows and movies, this story had a happy ending. It’s hard not to a enjoy a trip to a place with a mountain as breathtaking as the Matterhorn, especially when you luck out with good weather. While we are happy we went, we wouldn’t repeat this trip! The amount of travel time was ambitious for a long weekend and became excessive with the added five hour delay. And the cost of the train tickets added up to more than we would have liked. If we could do it over, we would have driven, stopped by Zermatt as part of a longer trip, or decided not to go. But, that’s how things go in the Muppet world. If it had gone smoothly, there’d be no show…
Where we went: Zermatt, Switzerland. Zermatt is a super mountain town with skiing and snowboarding almost all year and hiking in the summer. Think Vail, Park City, and Whistler (yes, that means $$$ and lots of tourists), but with chalets that are legitimately Swiss. Zermatt also serves as a frequent starting or end point for multi-day hiking and mountain bike excursions into the Alps. Zermatt is probably most well known for its iconic mountain, the Matterhorn. The Matterhorn sits on the border of Switzerland and Italy and is one of the most distinctive, highest and, historically, deadliest peaks in the Alps.
How we got there: By train. We trained from Bologna to Milan, Milan to Brig, and then Brig to Zermatt. The train is nice because you can read, work, blog, or play Words With Friends while you travel. But the tickets are expensive and the trains aren’t always on time. If we could repeat, we would have driven, parked in Täsch, and taken the train from Täsch to Zermatt (since Zermatt is a car-free city).
Where we stayed: Hotel Bahnhof. We read positive reviews of Hotel Bahnhof on a couple of blogs and were pleased with our pick. It was clean, reasonably priced, and had nice amenities (a communal kitchen, communal living room, and laundry facilities). We ultimately picked Hotel Bahnhof because we read that it had a kitchen and we wanted to cut costs by eating in.
Other places to stay: I’d also consider staying in the Zermatt Youth Hostel, which provides breakfast and dinner to its guests (incl in room price). A friend of a friend, who was in Zermatt the same time as us after a mountain bike excursion, stayed in the Youth Hostel and gave it a good review. We also spotted a campsite in Täsch that I would consider in warmer weather. I’d also consider staying off the beaten path slightly and booking a room in one of the towns one or two train stops before Zermatt (like Täsch or Rand). Lastly, Lake Maggiore is right across the border from Zermatt in Italy. It could be fun to combine a vacation in Lake Maggiore with a day trip to Zermatt.
Where we ate: Nowhere! Zermatt is $$$ like most ski resorts, so we packed lunch for the train and our hike and cooked breakfast and dinner at our hotel. Hotel Banhoff was perfect for this as it has a beautiful communal kitchen (the nicest I’ve seen in a hotel/hostel).
Where we hiked: Since there was still a fair amount of snow on the ground when we visited in the last days of May, we kept our hiking to the lower, snowless trails. We hiked up to Sunnegga Paradise by way of Findeln, where we stopped and ate our lunch on a bench. Then we hiked up to Blauherd, back down to Sunnegga Paradise, and back down to Zermatt by way of Tufteren. There is a restaurant at Sunnegga Paradise, but they charge 20Fr for a hot dog, so we were happy we packed a lunch. Warning: don’t try to bring your own food onto the restaurant patio. Also, don’t be surprised if you are the only one who hiked up to Sunnegga. Most people travel around the hills on Zermatt’s railways and gondolas. You can find a map of the hiking trails in Zermatt here and pick up a hiking guide in the Visitor Center in Zermatt.