It was time for us to leave Geneva and move onto the next stop on our mini tour of Switzerland. First though, Liz and Tim had one more place to show us – Mont Saleve. It involved another trip into France for a few hours and for me, overcoming another fear (this seems to happen a lot to me on our travels!)
We were able to secure our backpacks in a locker at Geneva Station and from here we got a bus to the French/Swiss border. I knew we were going up a mountain and I knew we’d have to get a cable car, but I didn’t ask any further questions about it, as I didn’t want my anxiety about heights to kick in. When we pulled up to the border in the bus however, I was met with a huge mountain up ahead and worse still, a cable car that was disappearing into the clouds above. Anxiety started to set in. I was determined not to let it takeover though, as we had the kids with us and I didn’t want them to see my fear! If they could do it, I could!
It was a short walk from the bus stop to where the cable car took off from and before I knew it (which was good, less time to think about it) we were boarding the supposedly safe tin can. It was a decent size, luckily. It wasn’t just a small car with room enough for a couple of people. I can’t tell you what the view was like going up as I was fixated either on the floor or talking to Liz, desperately trying not to catch a glimpse out of the window.
In just four minutes we’d reached the top of Mont Saleve and the awful bump you get as the car pulled in hit. We were there and in one piece; I could breath a sigh of relief.
Once out of the car, we headed to a viewing platform and the view was amazing. We were 1097 metres up and we could see for miles upon miles. It was a bit cloudy but it was clearing slowly. Surprisingly the view didn’t make me nervous. There were a few crazy people running down the grassy slope on the hill and jumping off the edge to do some paragliding – maybe one day I’ll build up enough courage to do that. For now, I felt safe enough with two feet permanently on the ground!
With the views taken in, we found ourselves a table and whilst Liz and I were arranging the picnic lunch we brought, Barry, Tim and the boys went to the field below to have races. Barry introduced the four-year-old Henri to the selfie stick! Henri took his first selfie overlooking Geneva and lined up the shot like a true pro.
Lunch finished, it was time to make our way back down. I find going down a lot easier than going up. You already know the height you’re at and every second that goes by, you’re closer to the bottom!
Once we were down, it was straight back on the bus and off to Geneva Station ready to catch the train to our next destination – Zermatt. We said goodbye to our hosts for the weekend (thanks Liz, Tim and kids for the great hospitality!) and jumped aboard our train.
Train travel is definitely the best way to see Switzerland. The views were spectacular. Ridiculously high mountains surrounded us, with dozens of waterfalls created from the melting snow pouring down from them. We travelled alongside streams and shear drops which led to valleys far below. We saw glaciers at the tops of mountains and tiny villages made up of Swiss huts high up in the hills.
With a quick train change at Visp, we arrived in Zermatt 3 hours and 20 minutes after leaving Geneva. We had finally reached the Alps!
Zermatt is home to a famous mountain – the Matterhorn. You may know it as the mountain on the Toblerone box. It stands 4478 metres high, looking down over the village, which is only 1605 metres high. It’s a very swish ski resort, much like what Aspen is to Colorado. We should’ve been able to see the famous point of the Matterhorn as we pulled into Zermatt, but typically of our luck, it was far too cloudy and as a result we could see nothing. We left the train and made our way to our hotel – The Ambience. We’d paid for a room overlooking the Matterhorn, so fingers crossed the clouds were going to clear at some point whilst we were here and we’d get to see the famous sight!
As we walked up a very steep hill to our lodgings for the next two nights, we saw some of the cloud disperse and we were able to catch a very vague view of the Matterhorn. We couldn’t see it all, but it would tide us over until what we hoped would be a better view in the morning.
That night, as a recommendation from our new host, Michelle, whose family run the hotel, we went for dinner at Old Zermatt and it was truly delicious. Barry claimed it as his birthday dinner due to his disappointment at the fondue. We tucked into Lobster and Scallop soup, Oxtail Soup, Suckling Pig and Chicken Schnitzel. It was expensive, as everything seems to be in Switzerland, but it was worth every penny. We left feeling suitably full and ready for our long hike up the mountains the following day.
Here is the journey that we took on the day.