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Trip Report Train Journey in the Snow & Fog

Destination: Zermatt, Switzerland

Summary: The snowy mountains, railways, Matterhorn, Gornergrat Bahn Mountain Railway lead you to the beautiful scenery.

I always feel that the best way to travel is by train, which gives us the opportunity to enjoy the fascinating scenery along the way when the train slowly moves forward. I tried the old green train in China, I also took the high speed train, but the fresh memory is the experience I had on Gornergrat Bahn Mountain Railway in Zermatt of Switzerland.

It is said that Wallis, where Zermatt is located, is the driest and the most possible place for fine weather. It has more than 300 sunny days in one year. However, the promising good weather yesterday nightfall was just deceptive. When I got up in the morning, it was not only cloudy, but also was raining heavily. Since the price for all sorts of tickets in Switzerland is fairly high, taking cable car, or train to the observatory deck in this kind of weather is just a waste of money. So we took our time to get up, ate breakfast and waited for the weather to clear up. But, things didn’t go the way we wished for. It’s still rainy and cloudy when we went outside to take a look. Anyway, we decided to take a stroll when we saw various outdoor supply shops along the street.

This small town, Zermatt, is really like a large scale hike supply shopping street, no kidding, at least more than half of the stores are selling outdoor supplies except hotels and restaurants. I think this place would be an excitement for the outdoor gear enthusiasts. I have promised to buy sleeping bags for my friends before taking this trip, so I went out for shopping in such rainy days in a very frustrating mood.

Nevertheless, we ended up buying lots of other stuff, but couldn’t find the sleeping bags as we intended to.
The rain finally stopped when our legs had become sore in this shopping trip in Zermatt. The sky showed promising signs, we ran back to the hotel immediately to check with the front desk. People working at the front desk were really nice. They offered us useful travel information besides being affable. They were able to observe the live situations on the mountain through the computer system, plus their many years experiences, they would be able to predict the weather changes.

The chances of clearing up were very high according to the predication from the inquiry! Therefore, we prepared to embark on our journey right away! Because my friend got frightened when he took the aerial tramway at Foster, we gave up Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, selected the smooth and steady Gornergrat Bahn Mountain Railway instead.

Gornergrat Bahn Mountain Railway Station is just on the opposite of the Zermatt Train
Station, making it very convenient. Picture below shows the outside look of the station. (It was taken during our downhill trip when it was sunny.)

It takes about half an hour from Zermatt to Gornergrat, and round trip ticket for an adult is 86 CHF. Even with Switzerland Half-Fare Card, it is a little expensive since you still have to pay 46 CHF. There is a little cute black face sheep doll in the station, which is the mascot of this train. I think the black face sheep is really the symbol of the Alps.

The train drew into the station very soon. The time from the end of May to the beginning of June is the big low season for Alps tourism. There were very few travelers, and the whole train looked empty with less than 10 passengers on it.

There is a road map inside the carriage, besides the Gornergrat Bahn Mountain Railway, there are plenty other routes of trains and cable cars that covers the map densely. The honor of being great mountain railway country is indeed well earned.

From the pictures above, we can see a brand new and elegant station, and the passenger carriage looks even more bright and beautiful. It is really hard to believe that this mountain train was completed in 1898, and nearly has 120 years history. I can't imagine how the Swiss manage to maintain it in this way. It is truly respectable and admirable.

The whole Zermatt was under our feet not long after the train had started. There are many densely distributed log cabins with slates roofing, making the view quite different from the Jungfrau mountain area. I think that they must look like the gingerbread houses in fairy tales when in snowy winter season! (But winter in Zermatt is the super peak season. It’s full of people for skiing and the hotel becomes super expensive then. )

The train climbed along the mountain ridges, and went inside the cloud and fog all of a sudden. It became so foggy outside the window that nothing was visible. The only hope would be waiting for the sky to clear up in the afternoon.

There are only a few buildings scattered on Gornergrat, among which, the biggest and the most obvious one would be the observatory. This huge observatory looks like a castle. It is the highest observatory in Europe.

There is a viewing deck at the back of observatory. It takes a bit of mountain road to get there. It is said that, on these more than 300 sunny days in Zermatt, magnificent views of 7 glaciers converging at Alps appears. But we were the "lucky" crowd who witnessed this rare heavy fog.

As for the 7 glaciers, we can only imagine them in our head.

It started to snow when we headed downhill. I had witnessed plenty snowing in China, but for my friend, it’s the first time, she was very happy!

Later, we went into the observatory to get out of the snow and wind because it was too cold outside. This gigantic observatory has 4 floors, the ground floor is for shops and bathroom, while above the ground floors are dining hall and five star hotel "3100 Kulmhotel Gornergrat". We intended to eat something in the dining hall, but the prices there stopped that thought immediately. So we prepared to leave. While we were waiting in the station, a big snow and wind came, after which, the sun appeared!

Even if I still couldn’t believe my eyes, the sun emerged for real this time! Even it’s just sunshine at a small corner above our sky, it’s still OK, for me, only little sunshine would satisfy me! When the sun came out, the view was still foggy, but when I looked the fog closely, I could see it had layers, which made a fine view too, even when I was still hoping for a sunny day~

Have you manage to get a blur view of the magnificent Matterhorn in this snow and fog day?
The scenery was great, but I felt regretful for not being able to capture the moment when the train was drawing into the station. We stayed a little bit longer on Gornergrat because the sunshine came out. But we still couldn’t wait for the Matterhorn to appear, we headed down.

On the way downward, there was no more white mist. We finally were able to have a look of the view along the road. The train descended along the snow-capped Alps. Alps mountains are so beautiful that even 1/10000 of its true beauty could not be reflected fully by photos. If the Jungfrau is a pretty princess, Matterhorn region would be relatively more masculine, maybe the feeling of a prince charming.
Looking back, right side in the cloud appeared the Matterhorn!

Although there were regrets, this Gornergrat Bahn trip had to end in the snow and fog. I have to say that it has been an extraordinary and spectacular experience to enjoy views from the train in the fog and snow.

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