Having had our glimpse of the Matterhorn yesterday morning for it to never be seen again, it was time for us to say goodbye to Zermatt and move on to our next stop in the Alps. We had a train to catch at 9:52 so we left early enough to have a stroll through the village and take some snaps along the way.
Once at the station, we boarded the famous train – the Glacier Express. It’s known as one of the most scenic train journeys in the world and although titled ‘express’ it’s actually known as the slowest express train in the world as the entire journey takes around 7½ hours, linking two of the major mountain resorts in the Swiss Alps. We were only going to be doing about half the journey though to Fiesch. Our Swiss Travel Passes covered us for this train; all we had to do was reserve a seat for 33 francs each.
Once on the train we found our reserved seats and saw that the carriage itself had almost floor to ceiling windows so you could get the most of the view. There were even windows in the roof so you could look above.
The first part of the journey was the same route we had travelled into Zermatt as all the trains run on the same line, however about an hour in and we were in new territory and with it came a lot more sights to be mesmerised by. Again we saw little villages perched on mountain tops, sheep grazing on cliff faces, deep gauges with raging rivers running through them and way up in the distance jagged mountains topped with snow.
As we were coming into Fiesch, we started to get our stuff ready so we could disembark, however the train didn’t slow down. It went straight through! I was afraid this was going to happen. Although the train timetable gave a time when it would be in Fiesch, it didn’t give it as an option to stop at when I booked the seat reservations. Instead I had to put in Andermatt, which was about another 45 minutes away. Nevermind, we had nothing else planned for the day and the journey was so scenic, who cared if we had to spend another 45 minutes there and another 45 minutes going back!
Once we got to Andermatt, we thought we might get something to eat as we had another 45 minutes to wait for a train back to Fiesch. Er no! There was nothing really in Andermatt. Apparently there is a big resort being built there, but until that is completed, there’s nothing much else to do. The stations are so tiny, you even have to cross the tracks to get to your train and if another train arrives at the same time, you have to wait for that to leave before you can board yours. Barry couldn’t even find anything to photograph when he went for a wander! So we sat, wrote a blog and waited patiently for our train to arrive.
Now because we were getting a slower train from Andermatt, it meant it would stop at all the small stations, which turned out to be a blessing as we could now get off at Furgangen-Bellwald, which was where our next hotel was. About 10 minutes from Fiesch on the train or an hour and a half walk! What Barry failed to tell me when he booked this hotel was that the train wasn’t to be our last mode of transport to reach our lodgings for the night. We were also going to have to get a cable car and when we arrived at Furgangen-Bellwald I was not impressed. It wasn’t a big, sturdy looking cable car, it was a tiny, barely fit 2 people in kind of cable car and it was going high up into the mountains. But I had no choice, this was the only way to get to our room for the night, so in we got. The sign said it could hold 8 people – yeah right! The two of us and our backpacks filled it up! Knowing that I wasn’t going to like it, I sat straight on the floor so I couldn’t see how high we were going. It felt like it went on forever and all I could think of was that we were going to have to do this all over again to get down!
When it finally reached the top, I had never been happier to step onto solid ground. My legs were like jelly and we still had a 15-minute walk – up hill!! – to get to our new home, the Aparthotel Edelweiss. When we eventually did arrive, we found ourselves in our own apartment, with a living room and kitchen and an amazing view out over the mountains.
That night we decided to venture out to look for somewhere to eat. It was almost like a ghost town with no one else around but we did eventually find a bar (which was empty) and the barman pointed us in the direction of a restaurant. When we walked in, the family that owned the restaurant were sat eating their dinner, but welcomed us in anyway. We were the only people there. Fortunately they had a menu in English (when we asked for it) so at least we knew what we were going to be eating. When the meals came out they looked delicious, mine even came with dessert on the same plate – not sure what that was about, but damn it was one tasty meal!
When we arrived back at our apartment, we couldn’t get the code to work to let us back into the building. We tried everything but to no avail. The reception was locked so we couldn’t get any help there, so we ventured round the back to see if we could find another entrance. The entrance we did find was also locked but I did see an open window. Luckily it was for the laundry room so when Barry lowered himself in, he didn’t scare any of our neighbours! Once he’d established the door was open and we could find our way to our room from there, I followed him in. Seriously, this stuff could only happen to us!
The next morning, it was time to get back in the scary cable car and make our way into Fiesch on the train, as we were off to see something spectacular! I still didn’t enjoy the cable car, but it was getting better. We had about 40 minutes to wait for out train, so we went on a little tour of Furgangen-Bellwald. It didn’t take long, there isn’t a lot there. We did however find a very long, very high suspension bridge to walk over. It went over a deep gorge, with a gushing river running through it. As usual Barry went bounding over it with no fear at all, I took a few minutes to work up the courage. These blogs make me sound like a right wuss, but really I’m not, we just always seem to do stuff which involves the one thing I don’t like – heights! As you walked along, it really moved and bounced you all over the place. It definitely didn’t feel like the safest bridge to be on.
The train soon arrived and within 10 minutes, we were in Fiesch heading towards another scary cable car. I really don’t know why I do it to myself, but what was at the top of this cable car, was going to be well worth putting myself through the fear (or at least that’s what I kept telling myself). As soon as we arrived at the Eggishorn Cable car, we were ushered into the car after flashing our Swiss Passes, which gave us a 50% discount. It all happened so quickly I didn’t even have time to talk myself out of going into it. It was a much bigger car than the one to our hotel but it was going up a lot higher – 1163 metres to be exact. It was relatively empty, so I just clung to a poll and looked at the floor.
Once we reached the top, we then had to get out and make our way to another cable car to take us even further up, another 715 metres. As I looked up at the cables, they disappeared into a cloud. Without another thought I jumped into the car and clung to another pole. The car took off and into the clouds we went.
It took about 15 minutes in total to get from the ground, all the way to the top and as we stepped out of the car and left the building we found ourselves surrounded with snow! It wasn’t cold, as the sun was blazing but it was so bright. We followed the path that was carved through the snow to the viewing area. The snow was about 2-3 feet deep and wasn’t showing any signs of melting.
As we came out from the path, we were met with the most spectacular view I have ever seen – the Aletsch Glacier. Barry and I have seen a lot of amazing sights on our travels, but this truly was the most incredible thing EVER! One side of us was the glacier, the other side was just a sheer drop shrouded with cloud. The glacier itself is 23km long and is 900 metres thick at its deepest point. You could see the crevasses the ice had created and pools of bright blue sitting within them. It’s also a Unesco World Heritage Site so you can understand why it’s so special.
We wandered around for a while and sat and admired the view. It was so quiet, we could’ve sat there for hours, but we knew we had to come down at some point. The cable cars going down were nowhere near as bad even if we did have to share the car with a bunch of school kids who were all pushing each other and banging into us. It was like being back in London on the tube during rush hour.
Once we were down we went for a look around Fiesch to find somewhere to eat. We found ourselves at Des Alpes, where we enjoyed our lunch with an amazing view of the town.
Then it was back to Bellwald. When we’d arrived yesterday, it was very cloudy so we didn’t get to appreciate the views that this pretty little village had to offer. Now, as we walked back to our hotel (after going in the dreaded cable car again) we were able to take in the sights and admire what this place had to offer.
That night, we were treated to a stunning pink sunset over the mountains.