A trip to a ski resort in the Alps should definitely be on your bucket list if you’re living in Europe. From London, we took a not even two-hour flight to Zürich, followed by a long train-ride south to Zermatt. Zermatt is the most popular ski resort in Switzerland, not in the last place because of the impressive Matterhorn mountain.
January means snow and cold in Switzerland: temperatures barely reach above zero, and the landscape is covered in thick snow. We took the easy route, and opted to take the train instead of driving ourselves. A good decision, as the train turned out to be very punctual, more comfortable, and on top we had the luxury to make convenient stops in the city centers of Bern and Zürich.
Four hours after landing in Zürich, we finally arrived in Zermatt. On the way, we weren’t really able to enjoy any views, as it was mostly pitch-dark outside. We checked in to our hotel, and went out to find some dinner, and explore Zermatt by night.
The next morning, we set out to do some skiing. As total beginners, we opted for a private lesson with Summit Ski & Snowboard School. We took the funicular up the Sunnegga, and during the next two-and-a-half hours our instructor Dave taught us how to ski. Starting with how to fit on ski boots, how to take turns, and most importantly; how to stop.
Despite the freezing temperatures, it didn’t feel too cold. The lack of wind, and proper clothing kept us going. After our lesson ended, we were happy what we accomplished, even though the Swiss youngsters less than half our age passed us left and right.
After returning to the hotel to warm up, we headed back into Zermatt for dinner. As the town is relatively small and enjoys a lot of tourism, almost all restaurants require reservations. Luckily, we noticed this beforehand, so we enjoyed a delicious dinner at Restaurant Schäferstube, sampling Swiss classics such as raclette and cheese fondue.
Up until then, we didn’t get to see the Matterhorn yet; it had been cloudy and snowy all day, and we were starting to fear we would leave without snapping a picture. Luckily, on the morning of our departure, sunrise came with blue skies, and an impressive Matterhorn in the distance.
We took the same way back; the train from Zermatt to Zürich. This time, it was during daytime, so we got to enjoy the scenic surroundings, including the vineyards of Valais. Midway through, we stopped in Bern for a quick lunchtime visit of the capital.
Bern is built around the Aare River, and we walked through the old city center towards the Nydeggbrücke. On the other side of the river, there is a bear pit: it is home to three bears, which are seen as the protectors of the city. Unfortunately, there were nowhere to be found, probably enjoying their hibernation inside.
From there, we walked back to the train station to continue our journey. We passed the Parliament, City Hall, and Church of the Holy Spirit, among other landmarks. Stopping for a few hours in Bern turned out to be a great way to break up an otherwise long train ride.
We arrived in Zürich a few hours before flying back to London. We went out, embraced the cold yet again, and had a wonderful stroll through the center of the city. The old center is split in two by the Limmat river, which flows into the Zürichsee on the south.
The colorful houses, old churches, and sunset made for a picturesque walk, and great end of our short trip to Switzerland. We headed back to the train station for the last part of our journey: the 15-minute ride back to the airport, and subsequently the flight back home.
We, Mark & Herta, are currently backpacking through Europe, and eventually planning to settle in London. Beyond that? The possibilities are endless.Read Mark & Herta’s full story.