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    • Day 40

      Gornergrat, Riffelsee and the Matterhorn

      August 19 in Switzerland ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

      It’s 3 minutes past nine and I’m sat in the station half asleep and waiting on the most expensive train ride I’ll probably ever take. The Gornergrat Bahn is the highest (and oldest functioning) open air railway in Europe. It takes passengers up to the rocky ridge of Gornergrat at 3100 meters. As I board I ask the conductor if the windows open, he doesn’t understand me at first and so I point to the window beside me and mime opening them. He wins the game of charades and tells me confidently that ‘no, they are closed’. I’m a little miffed that the windows don’t open but as I sit in my seat I decide to give it a shot and sure enough, the window opens… as do all the windows in the carriage. Heavens knows what the conductor thought I was asking.

      The moment we start to climb, I get my first full view of the Matterhorn and I’m absolutely smitten. There’s something about these iconic mountain peaks that just leaves you in awe. And while I have no desire to actually scale the thing, I can understand the obsession that the first climbers must have had in the pursuit of getting to the summit.

      The peak of the Gornergrat overlooks the Matterhorn as well as the Gorner glacier. You can see the path that the glacier has taken over time, the movement somehow visible in frozen ice. I spend ages gawking and taking photos, grinning the whole time. My plan is to hike down but first I take a wander around the visitor centre on the top. First stop is to buy water, since I realised once I was on the train that I’d made a rookie error and left the bottle I’d filled up, in the hostel toilet 🤦🏻‍♀️
      Water (presumably infused with caviar given that it costs me £4.50) in hand, I stumble across a little chapel and then find my way into the visitors centre. It’s filled with stories of Matterhorn ascents- solo ascents with just teddy bears for company (‘exactly the mental support needed’ according to the climber), the ascent of the future pope in 1889, the oldest ascent (89 years old) to the youngest (8 years old). I find a room with hanging seats and VR headsets and next thing I know I’m virtually paragliding around the Matterhorn.

      On the top of the Gornergrat there’s a number of shops. Some selling standard touristy T-shirts and badges, others selling Swiss watches, chocolate and cheese. I stumble across one selling Swiss Army Knives and after a quick flashback to breaking into Rosie’s safe box in Girona, I realise that if I need one souvenir from Switzerland (and this trip), it’s a Swiss Army knife (after all, a girl can never have too many knives 💅🏼💁🏻‍♀️). I pick out the one I want and the saleswoman tells me it’s free engraving if there’s anything I want added. I write out the phrase ‘Per Ardua Ad Astra’. She smiles, plugs it into the machine and asks me ‘Latin? What does it mean’. I explain, ‘through hardship to the stars’ and that it was a phrase that took on huge personal significance when I was dealing with hyperthermia and my body going into shut down on a trek in Nepal. She asks me which route and next thing I know we’re chatting about the Annapurna region as she’s been trekking there too. She notes that she had an advantage with the altitude, working at 3000m daily. She asks where I’m from and when I say Scotland she tells me I know mountains too then. I make a noncommittal noise and tell her not like this. She laughs and says the grass is always greener, ‘when you’re Swiss you think Scotland is wonderful and when you’re Scottish you think Switzerland is wonderful’. I laugh politely all while thinking that while I love Scotland and our mountains, they’re not quite like this.

      Budget firmly drained, I begin the descent. I hop down a station on the train to find the trailhead and then after topping up with suncream it’s down we go. The hike takes me down facing the Matterhorn most of the way, with the odd detour to see lakes, flanked once again with the Matterhorn. The route is absolutely gorgeous, the weather is perfect and I’m fairly sure I smile all the way. What should have been an hour and a half’s hike turns into hours as I can barely move 100m without wanting to take another photo. Eventually though I make it down to the station I need to get to and hop on the last section of the train down to Zermatt and fall straight into bed.
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    • Day 82

      My Amazing Wife

      July 16, 2022 in Switzerland ⋅ ☀️ 54 °F

      We have had such a fantastic trip. 12 weeks, 14 countries, 23 destinations, and it was all planned and executed by my amazing wife!

      She managed all of our transportation, accommodations, activities and still had such a great spirit of adventure. It was infectious! This trip took many months to plan, but it went so smoothly. I'm truly in awe of her abilities.

      These are a few photos I captured at various places along our journey. Some of them are candid shots of her leading us on our trails, making us laugh and taking the photos for us to remember.

      I'm just so thankful that I have such a beautiful, intelligent and fun wife. I love you Amy Dent Beebe! - Sean
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    • Day 24

      Run day: Zermatt to Gornergrat

      July 1 in Switzerland ⋅ ☁️ 8 °C

      The long awaited day is finally upon us. We started training for the Top20 half-marathon run in April.

      Our day started early, with a quick warm up and stretch; still overcast, but not raining or too cool. We did a light jog along the river. After a good stretch, had a light breakfast and headed to the race start location for 9am.

      We started near the back, and slowly meandered our way forward.

      J slowed down as the road incline increased, while A took off like a gazelle. Around the 7 km mark the road levelled out, and J picked up speed, but A was no where in sight. For the next 8km, the route was a combination of road and narrow trail. For the most part, only a slight incline.

      J finally caught up to A after km 15, just passed Riffelboden. Here the route got insanely vertical. From then on things got really gruelling. At this point "running" was just a notion, it was a chore just to get one foot in from of the other. J attempted a slow jog for a short stretch and quickly realized that walking was a better use of energy. A's ambitions of walking a bit faster were squashed by quads and hamstrings threatening to seize up! 😵‍💫

      A typical half marathon is 21.4km, this route was 22.1km... Every twist and crest became the next milestone. It was a bit deflating when the finish line became apparent at the top of Gornergrant. But in the end we both made across! The things we put ourselves through for a "finishers" tshirt 👕🤣

      It was an incredibly beautiful course to complete! This finish line is the highest for an event in Europe, 3089m!

      After some half-hearted stretching, and refreshments, took the train back to Riffelberg to pick up our clothes bags, and shower. The shower space was more like a prison or military shower setup: four rows of shower jets with space for about 40. The warm water felt amazing!

      We then headed over for our free beer🍻. It was terrible 🤢 We found a gopher🐿️ hole to dispose of the rest after a couple sips 🤣 Probably not a bad thing considering soon after J's stomach started to protest. We followed his nose to a Weiner stand, they wanted 9CHF for a slice of bread and sausage. All we had were Euros that they didn't accept, which is strange as its on parity and an international event 😕

      The train down was very hot and over crowded with tourists and runners. It was a challenge to stay upright and get to the bottom. By this point J was very naustious, and crouching near the floor. Once at the bottom, A grabbed a few food items from the store, and we headed back to our accommodations for a quiet restful night homemade Bratwurst and some rose wine.
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    • Day 8


      April 6 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ -7 °C

      Am nächsten Tag ist das Wetter richtig gut und deshalb gönne ich mir die nächste Zahnradbahn auf den Berg. Bei der Gornergratbahn gibt es gar keinen Interrail-Rabatt, sie kostet "nur" 88 CHF hin und zurück.
      Den Ausflug mache ich zusammen mit meinem Zimmernachbarn aus Finnland.
      Und es hat sich gelohnt. Ich würde sogar sagen Gornergrat ist noch besser als Jungfraujoch. Zum einen sieht man auf der ganzen Fahrt das Matterhorn, zum anderen hat man oben mehr Platz zum herumlaufen.
      Im Ticket inklusive ist eine kleine Erlebniswelt mit drei Attraktionen: ein Video über die Jahreszeiten am Matterhorn, projeziert auf eine Leinwand die geformt ist wie der Berg, digitale Periskope mit denen man das Panorama beobachten kann und ein VR Paraglidingflug in einem schwingend aufgehängtem Sessel.
      Aber das Highlight ist natürlich das Bergpanorama und der spektakuläre Blick aufs Matterhorn.
      Den Rückweg machen wir zum Teil zu Fuß, im oberen Teil im Schnee, weiter unten durch den Wald, immer das Horn im Blick.
      Zum Abschluss des gelungene Tages gibts noch ein paar Bier in Zermatt 🍻
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    • Day 15


      July 7 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

      Heute der Höhepunkt unserer Schweizreise. Mit der Bahn geht es von Täsch nach Zermatt und dann mit der Gornergrat Bahn zum Gornergrat.
      Heute haben wir mit dem Wetter Glück.
      Herrliches Panorama! Und das Matterhorn präsentiert sich ohne Wolken.Read more

    • Day 53


      August 8 in Switzerland ⋅ ☁️ 4 °C

      Gornergrat is a mountain peak in the Pennine Alps, located in the canton of Valais in Switzerland. It is known for its panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, including the Matterhorn, as well as its cogwheel train that takes visitors to the summit.Read more

    • Day 5

      Zermatt Tag 2, Gornergrat Trailmassaker

      September 6, 2022 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 7 °C

      Nach dem Frühstück geht es bergab auf die ersten Trails. Die Abfahrt bis zum Riffelsee erinnert an cinque Torri, von der Averauhütte. Ist zwar teils recht verblockt aber sehr verspielt und geil!. Der untere Teil wechselt zwischen Naturtrails und den geshapten Flow.Autobahnen.Read more

    • Day 4

      Zermatt, Gornergrat und Matterhorn

      August 12, 2022 in Switzerland ⋅ ☀️ 10 °C

      Heute ging's mit dem Bus nach Täsch, von da aus mit dem Zubringerbus nach Zermatt.
      Dort konnten wir für "nur" 95,- € pro Person (30 % Rabatt, weil wir mehr als 10 Personen zusammen bekamen) ein Ticket für die Gornergrat-Zahnradbahn erwerben. Man ist nur einmal hier und die Witterungsbedingungen waren ideal! Also haben wir die Gelegenheit genutzt und es absolut nicht bereut. Von 1.600 m rumpelte die Bahn in ca. 40 min auf eine Höhe von 3.100 m. Während der Fahrt gab es die verschiedensten Perspektiven auf das Matterhorn, besser noch als oben, wo die Entfernung schon wieder größer war.
      Dort konnten wir uns die Beine vertreten, einen 360° Rundumblick genießen und hatten dabei die Sicht auf insgesamt 29 "Viertausender" (wir haben sie nicht nachgezählt).
      Bei der Talfahrt entdeckten wir einen Gleitschirmflieger und hätten so gerne mit ihm getauscht - das muss doch fantastisch sein, zumal wir sehen konnten, wie er in der guten Thermik sich immer wieder auf's Neue in die Höhe schraubte!
      Zurück in Zermatt ließen wir uns von dem Touristengedränge auf der Hauptstraße erst etwas entmutigen, aber nicht weit davon wurde es ruhiger und unsere Zeit reichte noch für einen Kaffee bzw. eine Apfelsaftschorle mit Blick auf das weite Tal dieser autofreien Stadt (na ja, Elektrofahrzeuge halten die Infrastruktur und das gesellschaftliche Leben aufrecht).
      Im Hotel nahmen wir unser letztes (wieder sehr gutes) Abendessen ein, denn morgen wird hier ausgecheckt, dann reisen wir mit dem Glacier-Express bis Chur, wo wir ein anderes Hotel mit unserer Anwesenheit beehren werden.
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    • Day 38

      The Most Amazing Day of All

      October 25, 2018 in Switzerland ⋅ ☁️ 9 °C

      I seem to have been repeating myself lately. Perhaps it is a sign of extreme old age, or maybe it's because I am running out of superlatives when trying to describe the scenery we have been enjoying every day. There is only a limited number of times you can use words like "amazing", "spectacular" or "breathtaking", before they become depreciated.

      What I will say is that today has been one of the most memorable days of my entire life. Allan and I began early with a trip on the cog railway from Zermatt to Gornergrat. This is a famous scenic location that offers 360 degree views of the surrounding mountain peaks.

      Although the Matterhorn is the most famous, and certainly the most recognisable of these peaks, it is actually not the highest. There are several others in this region that are considerably taller. Allan and I climbed to the highest point we could find and were thrilled that we had the place to ourselves. We spent the next 30 minutes just taking in the surroundings and pinching ourselves to make sure we weren't dreaming.

      Once again the weather was absolutely perfect, with blue skies, warm sunshine and no wind whatsoever. It was such a peaceful location to just sit and be thankful that we had this opportunity witness such beauty in such ideal conditions. Apparently this run of fine weather is coming to a dramatic halt this weekend. Plunging temperatures and snow is predicted for this region, but today you would not believe it.

      I found a lovely narrow alpine track along a ridge line and decided to follow it for some distance. On either side there were steep slopes disappearing down into the values below. I guess that is why the signs warned that the path was not suitable for anyone with vertigo. In the shady patches there was still a lot of hard ice, which made the walking a little treacherous. Fortunately I only came to grief once, and that didn't really count as I only fell onto one knee and not my backside.

      I found another isolated and elevated position and just sat and admired what was all around me. There is nothing like this in Australia and I was so glad that we had made the decision to spend this time in Switzerland. As I sat I could hear distant sounds from way down in the valley below me. Overhead white vapour trails marked the paths followed by numerous aircraft crisscrossing their flights across Europe.

      I could also hear something else. I think it was the sound of crackling forming on the top of my head and face. I had somehow stupidly left my hat in the hotel and I could feel the powerful rays of the sun burning their way into my exposed skin. It was time to head back.

      After a celebratory coffee and strudel at the summit restaurant we caught the train back as far as the first station. From there we walked to the Rippelsee, a lake that provides beautiful reflections of the Matterhorn. We then decided to continue our walk past another lake which had frozen solid and then down the hill to Rippleberg Station. The steep descent really tested my legs, but I could not help but feel that we were so privileged to have been able to share a day like this together.

      Tomorrow we catch the train to Geneva for our final night in this country, then it will be time to begin the long journey home. It has been a trip full of diverse experiences and I feel almost overwhelmed with the huge storehouse of memories I will be carrying home with me. That is the main reason that I have kept this blog. I hope also that those who are reading this have been sharing some of the trip with us.
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    • Day 36

      Zermatt 1

      July 3, 2017 in Switzerland ⋅ 🌙 4 °C

      We had decided to come to Zermatt due to a promising weather forecast. After the cloudy, cool and windy day before, today looked much better. Everything is very expensive in Zermatt, so with some help from the tourist info centre we made a plan for the day which involved buying tickets to the top on the Gornergrat Express and part of the way back down. A return ticket to the top costs 94 Swiss Francs, or about AU$130.

      We left the train at Riffelberg and followed walk 19 via Riffelsee to re-board the train at Rotenboden. We saw large groups walking on other trails but almost had our trail to ourselves until we got to Riffelsee where you see a reflection of the Matterhorn in the lake.

      We had a coffee at Gornergrat, sitting in brilliant sunshine. When we moved to get away from a smoker we got talking to a local couple who have spent a total of 6 years in Australia. After coffee we walked up to the panoramic viewpoint nearby, then caught the train down to Riffelalp where we followed the number 21 walk to the top of the SunneggaExpress, an underground funicular railway.

      We didn't have tickets for the Sunnegga, but had been told we could take it to the bottom and buy a ticket there. There was some problem with the train, so we joined the large number of people sitting on the cold damp steps from which you board the steeply sloping train. After an hour the problem was apparently fixed and we were allowed to board. In France we have yet to have our tickets checked on any train or tram. In Switzerland you pay or you walk, with conductors checking tickets on every train, and at Zermatt your electronic ticket is required to get either on or off every lift or train.

      We suggested to the man supervising the exit gates that, since we had waited for a full hour due to a fault, perhaps he could just let us out without having to buy tickets. He didn't take too much persuading and opened the gate for us.

      Dinner included a very nice bratwurst from the barbeque in front of the butcher shop.

      So many wildflowers I have created a Google Photos album: https://goo.gl/photos/mYWQYmBUcTvSTi517

      11km 511mts climbing
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Gornergrat, غورنيرغات, Gornergrato, ゴルナーグラート, 戈爾內格拉特

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