Skiing Zermatt

Glorious scenery, fabulous weather.

Three days of skiing in Zermatt, surrounded by gorgeous scenery and in perfect weather. Sunshine, no wind, temps around the freezing point. Good snow conditions. 40 open lifts, 211 kilometers of open slopes. No crowds, no lines. The Matterhorn in view nearly all the time, flanked by incredible snow-covered peaks and dripping with ancient glaciers. It doesn’t get much better than this. Read on, and check the photo gallery!

The Matterhorn, seen late afternoon from the ski slopes at Zermatt.
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It’s hard to beat this scenery.

I’ve never been anywhere with mountain scenery as stunning as in Zermatt. When we were first here, two years ago, it was snowing hard and I feared we’d leave without a glimpse of the Matterhorn. But it made an appearance later that day, and the next day was brilliantly beautiful. Today we are back, and the results are just as incredible. Read on.

A view of the Matterhorn from the high ski slopes; Zermatt is deep in the valley where you see brown cliffs.
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One of my favorites.

One of the favorite Swiss foods to be found at every Christmas Market is raclette – potatoes covered in melted cheese, sprinkled with spices, and served with pickles and pickles onions. It makes a very filling snack!

Raclette – potatoes covered in melted cheese, served with pickles – is a classic Swiss snack, especially in winter.

Honold’s bakery

One cannot just pass by.

Ok, there seems to be a common theme emerging in my posts from Zürich this week: food. My walk today began as another foggy morning, and indeed the day never shook off the fog. Perhaps it is all the snow sublimating in these just-above-freezing temperatures.

So when my downhill route took me near Honold, I just had to stop in. Had to. I’ll bet there is even some Swiss law about cold foggy mornings, and excellent chocolate/pastry shops, that requires one to stop in for a heisse shoggi (hot chocolate). I used to visit this very shop at least once a week when I was living here.

I enjoyed the hot chocolate for the rest of the walk, though I did somehow get out without succumbing to the other tasty treats!

Yooji sushi

Tasty, but the costs add up!

Ok, sushi is not what one always thinks of first, when one thinks of food in Switzerland. But tonight we were looking for something a little different, so we stopped into Yooji’s and down to their basement dining room. There, a continuous train of sushi circulates past the customers seated on stools around the central kitchen area. Many tempting treats scoot by…

Yooji’s sushi bar, with a rotating track filled with a variety of sushi.

The price is determined by the color of the plate, as in other such restaurants. One cool feature of this shop is that you can remove a plate from the track, set it on the “infopoint” at your place, and the small iPad-like tablet in front of you will show a photograph and description of the item, in case you are wondering about the ingredients. Don’t like what you see? put it back on the track. Want to order a drink, or something special? Tap the tablet and point at what you want.

After our meal, a stack of plates and bowls derive the cost. Note also the Infopoint.

When finished, the staff come by to account for your plates. Brace yourself for the bill!

Foggy morning

No distant views … leads one to focus closer in.

It was a densely foggy morning, as I climbed to my usual outlook above the streets of Zürich. I was in the fog almost as soon as I left my hotel, at river level, and climbed 212m up through the fog to the Zürichberg viewpoint. Not surprisingly, there was nothing to see today but for the sign illustrating what distant mountains could be seen on a better day (like yesterday).

Foggy morning at Zurichberg viewpoint.

More of the snow and ice had melted from the pathways, so I took a different route down – through the forest and back to the roadway, at the spot known as Rigiblick.  There, I encountered a smiling set of sentries guarding the house beside the path.

Last week’s snow persists high on Zurichberg, where one home assembled a friendly family of snow soldiers.

Directly across the street is the top station for a funicular tram – a pair of trams on a track, attached to a cable, one descending while the other ascends. The sign advertised a departure in 2 minutes, so I hopped aboard and rode in comfort down the steep slope, approximately halfway to my starting point. Below, I look back up the track from the bottom.

Rigiblick funicular railway tracks.

This path home is always risky, passing as it does by a Migros grocery store and two wonderful bakeries. I broke down and popped into a bakery for a gipfel (like a croissant) and headed on home, a fine way to spend the morning.

Alpine sunrise

A grand view from a grand spot.

I returned to my morning walking route, climbing through the streets and stairs of Zurich to the viewpoint atop Zurichberg. Today, I arrived not long after sunrise; with fewer clouds, the sun shone through to the Zurich valley. Indeed, it seemed the orange glow of the rising sun was bouncing off the cloud deck above, illuminating the light fog hovering over the lake Zurichsee.

Sunrise view from the Zurichberg viewpoint, Zurich.

Zooming in to the Alps spread across the horizon, we can see the morning sun illuminating the Eiger and its neighbors.

The Eiger is the dark triangle just left of center.

Earlier, I paused along Spyristrasse at a point where I knew one of the multi-story condo buildings hosted an impressive sight: a three-story cat staircase, mounted outside the building, allowing the cat to come and go from its residential balcony. Today, for the first time ever, I saw a cat sitting atop the stairs, surveying its territory and guarding the homestead from all comers.

A cat rests at the top of a three-story cat staircase on the outside of a condo building; Spyristrasse, Zurich.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring.