I’ve just come back from a quick visit to a friend in Zermatt. What an experience. After an amazing drive through the Alps (including an odd roundabout stuck in the middle of a two-way road, without any other intersecting roads), we arrived in Täsch. No, not Zermatt. Noooooo. No, to get to Zermatt, you must park your car (pay), then take a train (pay for that too) to the resort. Without your car, you might need a taxi (a battery-run car — not free either) to your accommodation, and if you’re skiing in summer, you’ll probably need a taxi (more money) in the morning, rather than walking uphill through town with ski boots on. Once you’re at the lift office, you’ll experience wallet shrinkage as every last Swiss Franc is squeezed out of it to pay for the day pass (CHF90) which is only valid for skiing until early afternoon, and if you can still afford a taxi back to your accommodation, perhaps you can use one of the other lifts to really feel like you’ve got your money’s worth out of the day (but remember to subtract the cost of the taxi home in ski boots).
Okay, apart from Zermatt being far too expensive, the place itself is great. The Matterhorn — or Cervino in Italian or Cervin in French — dominates the town’s views, and it’s hard to find a postcard that doesn’t include it. The people are friendly and the food is varied. The village is pretty, relaxed and full of watch shops. One watch shop proudly advertises a watch brand with the quote: “Master of complications” and how true that is. Some cost more than €100,000 for the luxury of complication! The summer snow conditions were the best I’ve experienced, with a great cover that was a firm in the morning, but not rock solid, and softer later on, but not slushy. With only t-bars on the glacier, our legs — unaccustomed to skiing in summer — were tired before midday, but we kept at it because the snow was so good, dodging the racing teams and watching the few snowboarders on the piste do great things in the snow park.
Getting to the glacier for skiing involves three separate lifts: one telecabine then two telepheriques. So, after a morning of skiing, we then had to stand in two telepheriques before finally getting to rest our legs in a telecabine. Worse still, the connections between lifts are more than a few metres, making tired legs ache that little bit more between lifts. By the time we reached home, we were too tired to take any scenic lift rides, and it was too late in the day anyway.
We decided to go swimming. Zermatt has no public pool, so we went to a health spa. You might not think that CHF20 (€13) is worth it for a quick swim, but this pool was not just any pool. There’s a heated indoor pool, plus an overheated indoor/outdoor pool, complete with alternating water seductions such as bubbles for your feet, a whirlpool, bubble beds with mountain views, various water jets, some water fountains you can get a back and head massages from and two separate spas. The entrance fee includes a towel, which is handy, as we had left ours at home to save weight when carrying our bags between the car, the train and our accommodation (not far away enough to warrant a taxi, but far too far away to lug skis equipment and clothes). We stayed until closing, two hours later.