Today we were going into Switzerland to visit Zermatt and see the Matterhorn. It was going to be the highlight of my holiday.
Out route took us over the Simplon Pass (2005 metres). This pass links Domodossola in Northern Italy with the town of Brig in the Canton of Valais in Switzerland. The first road over the pass suitable for vehicles dates back to the time of Napoleon but in 1906 a railway tunnel was opened. At a length of 19 kilometres it was until recently the longest tunnel in the world.
We stopped at the top of the pass for coffee but my mind was on photography. I was off hunting for pictures. There were lots of wild flowers that I thought would make a nice foreground so next minute I was crawling through the undergrowth. Most people stayed near to the cafe and a couple came up to Jean and said “Is that your husband down there lying in the grass. What is he doing?”. I’m afraid so” she replied. “He has probably found a flower! It seemed to be accepted as normal behaviour, at least for me. From then on I was referred to as Mad Alan.
But I got my images. However no-one had warned me about the insects. They must have thought I was a new variety of foreign food and really tucked in to my elbows.
We descended towards the town of Brig passing some beautiful Alpine villages and getting our first glimpse of the high Alps. No cars are allowed into Zermatt so when we arrived at Tasch we had to transfer to the railway for the 15 minute train journey into Zermatt.
Coming out of the station we had our first view of the Matterhorn.
We now had to decide how best to use the time we had in Zermatt. There were several options.
We could go to the Gornegrat on the highest open-air cog railway in Europe. The views from the viewing platform at 3089 metres are supposed to be spectacular. However we would only have about 50 minutes on the top and I did not want to be restricted to one viewpoint.
Instead we chose to go to Sunnegga. A three minute ride on the underground funicular railway took us up to the sun terrace at 2288 metres above sea level. There were wonderful views of the Matterhorn and space to wander.
A few hundred metres away there was some construction work going on and I did not want that in my images. I needed to adopt a low viewpoint. Next minute I was in my normal position, crawling through the undergrowth. I got more funny looks but I knew what I wanted – an image of the Matterhorn flanked by wild flowers.
Not quite right so i moved on.
At last I was satisfied
There was time now to pose for a few photos and then enjoy a pint on the sun terrace
Back in Zermatt we had time to wander along the main street and have a bite to eat.
No cars are allowed on the streets of Zermatt, apart from the local doctor. Clients staying in the posh hotels can use the horse drawn carriages, whilst others have to ride in the electric cars. They are a bit like milk floats. They creep up on you almost silently and stop for no-one.
It had been a wonderful day and the altitude must have affected me because I fell asleep on the journey back to Stresa.