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Switzerland - Alpine Tour

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Alpine Tour - Switzerland

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Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich to Zermatt Thursday, September 21, 2006
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RiffelAlp Resort Brochure in .pdf format.

Train Schedule to Zermatt.

COOP (grocery store) receipt.

All peak pass for lifts around Zermatt.

First Class rail seating.

First Class rail car.

2x2 seating.

Example of Second Class rail car - note the (2) on the car. First Class has a (1) on the side of the car.

Arrival in Zurich

Zurich Airport Rail Station

We arrived an hour late on the flight at about 9:00 a.m. It was 51 deg. F and fog. We missed our 8:40 a.m. train, and were hoping to get through to the 9:40 a.m. departing train. Baggage claim took 20 minutes - another reason to just have carry-on luggage. Since we had to pack our liquids in checked baggage, we had to wait. Passport control just looked at our passports and waived us through. No custom forms, or anything written. Customs for baggage just waived us through. Once we had our luggage, it was fast and efficient. I guess people don't smuggle things into Switzerland. We got to the lower level train ticket office and validated our SwissPasses, got a train schedule, and hurried to the station below for the train. At 9:39 a.m. we were on our train to Bern in 1st Class.

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Zurich - Bern - Brig

Brig

The Intercity Train to Bern was fast. We then got off and reboarded a train to Brig. Trains stop only for a few minutes, so be prepared at your stop to depart and greet the next train. Swiss trains are the most efficient and on-time in the World. The train ride from Bern to Brig has to be one of the most scenic in Switzerland. You start off in flat country, then approach the Bernese Oberland in the distance, and pass right through it (and under it). It's spectacular. Other than scenic trains like Glacier Express, these regional trains also have their fair share of fantasic views. At Brig we got on the train to Zermatt.

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The views are fantastic.

Small villages in the valley are connected by cable car to alpine destinations.

The cogwheel train approaches Zermatt.

The Matterhorn in the hazy distance.

Zermatt

Gornergrat Train to the Riffelalp

We arrived in sunny Zermatt around 2:30 p.m. We were an hour late, so we used the free hotel phone in the train station to call the resort and have the porter meet us. While we were waiting, I purchased two peak passes for the next four days (a value if you want to experience all the lifts). We went shopping and the local COOP store for some bottled water and cheese for the next days lunch.

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Riffelalp

Riffelalp Resort Train

After meeting the porter (he loaded our luggage on Gornergrat train), we boarded the cogwheel train for the mid-station stop at the Riffelalp. The Gornergrat travels from Zermatt up the slop to the peak of the Gornergrat, with several stops inbetween. Once at the Riffelalp stop, we boarded the tiny resort train for the last leg of our journey (you can walk the path to the resort as well). We checked in at 4:30 p.m.

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Movie - Swiss 2006 - Day 02 - Zermatt - Gornergrat Train to Riffelalp Resort

The Riffelalp Resort.

View of dining room with rooms above.

Water closet.

Bathroom.

Bathroom.

Jacuzzi.

Living room.

Bed.

Balcony on the second floor. Our Chalet room was on the corner.

View of the front of the resort. Off to the left is the Matterhorn. The valley below is Zermatt. Altitude is 2,222 meters, or about 7,000 feet.

Riffelalp station.

View of valley below - follow the valley train route to the right and you get to Brig.

Day trip to Gornergrat

Gornergrat Peak

By the time we got unpacked it was 5:30 p.m., we had some time left, so we used our unlimited lift pass to go up to Gornergrat. We boarded the cogwheel train and took the 20 minute ride up the mountain to about 10,000 feet. You have fantastic views of glaciers and the Matterhorn.

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View of the peaks from Gornergrat.

The hotel restaurant at the peak. We had a beer here for sunset. Notice the twin observatories on top.

The majestic Matterhorn - one of the most photographed mountains in the world.

Gornergrat cogwheel in the foreground.

Sunset

Matterhorn at Sunset

After our beer at the peak on Gornergrat, we took the cogwheel back down to the resort and got back around 7:00 p.m.

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Movie - Swiss 2006 - Day 02 - Riffelalp Resort Train

Dinner

Wood Grill

We made reservations for the Walliser Keller restaurant at 9:00 p.m. which was downstairs. Last year, we had most of our dinners upstairs, but the charm of the country kitchen downstairs truly reflects the alpine region - so we elected to eat here every night at the resort.

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Country Kitchen Dinner - Wood Fired Grill

Raclettes

The downstairs restaurant is absolutely charming. My favorite part is the wood fired grill and the raclettes. Raclette cheese is delicious and is melted onto a plate where you can eat it with potatoes, pickled onions and pickles. You can order a portion (1) or for 27 CHF, an unlimited amount. The record (as of September 2006) is 23 servings. They also have a salad bar. I had the wood grilled steak - which was fantastic. Seating is limited, so make reservations at the beginning of the day.

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The chefs.

Salad bar.

Salad bar and bar.

Steak - wood grilled.

Lounge

After Dinner Drinks

The best part of the country kitchen is that they have small tables, and one large community table. We met a couple from England during dinner, and had drinks with them up at the lounge. They have a wonderful fireplace - ask them to build a fire if there isn't one going. I thought it would be fun to have shots - but buyer beware - they don't have a button for shots on the register, so they charge you a drink price for each liqour in the shot. You end up paying more for a shot, than a drink. In other words, don't buy shots. I mentioned the error to the bartender and she just said that is how they charge shots. I felt so cheated that I didn't buy drinks in the lounge for the rest of my stay. I got to try Absinthe here for the first time - it was great. After that evening, we just had drinks downstairs where we knew what we were getting charged.

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| 2006 Tour de Swiss Alps - Riffelalp Resort Review - PDF
| 2006 Tour de Swiss Alps - Riffelalp Resort Review - PDF
| 2006 Tour de Swiss Alps - Riffelalp Resort Review - PDF

 

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