Travel: Switzerland {thee Matterhorn}

Hello friends,

I hope you have enjoyed our recent trip to Switzerland.  This is my last post from our 'wintery escapades', so it's only fitting to wrap things up with a weekend get-a-way to Zermatt!

Have I mentioned that we don't travel lightly? It's wintertime, so we needed winter boots, gloves, scarfs, hats, jackets, hiking boots, dress attire, workout gear, etc.. for three weeks time.

We had three large trunks, two nap sacks, and my SLR camera + gear.  You can imagine what we look like in transit, our three trunks weighed in at 67 Kilo (148 pounds)...

After a long week of meetings and dinner commitments, the World Traveler was ready to get out of Vevey and was looking forward to a fun weekend skiing Matterhorn. We were eager to hit the road for a three hour train from Vevey to Zermatt, and settle in for the night.

The village/town of Zermatt is quaint, with more of a winter feel than Noel.  Fireplaces and animal skins to sit on, wintergreen and natural fibers lining the windows.

Travel: Switzerland {observations}

{feeding the birds}
I cherish a morning walk when traveling.

While staying in Vevey we had bread, jam, and fresh fruit delivered to our room daily.  I would save the uneaten bread and every few days walk to the pier to feed the birds.

The pier is home to a hundred year old carousel, and right behind me is a castle that's being renovated. Rumor says the castle was purchased for one Swiss Franc, and the owner is funding the renovation.

I can't wait to see the transformation.

Below are a few observations I would love to share, to give you a feel for life here.

Water: Showering with glacier water makes your hair baby soft.  When dining, water is not served unless requested.  Fizzy water costs the same as soda, it's cheap to buy at the grocery store.  A liter of San Pellegrino will cost one Swiss Franc (less than half the price in America).

Christmas: There is nothing commercial about Christmas in Switzerland.  Look around and you will see old world Santa's and natural decorations made of natural materials and ribbons.  A good reminder that Christmas is not about gifts or blow up lawn decorations.

- Santa is a rope climber! Did you know the Elf is mostly an American fascination?
- Christmas trees are real, standing from one to five feet in height.
- Igloo's are everywhere.  They are pop up businesses, a place to warm up with a drink or shop.

- Noel Villages: gatherings for the locals and travelers, with outdoor shops to buy gifts, sample food, drink. We attended at least four of them, each unique.  Vevey is a small corner shop with trees, Montreux host the main Noel Village for the area (this year's theme was wintergreen smurf's), Evian's village was made from driftwood, Zermatt's has more a winter feel to it.

Yarn: I wasn't able to find a yarn shop in any of the towns we visited.  I was hoping to buy some for a friend who enjoy's knitting.  Strange, right?

Language: I'm learning French but most of Switzerland speaks German.

Grocery Shopping: Keeping waste to a minimum, there isn't much outer packaging for items (ie: toothpaste in America can come in a box, you will not see this here),  you either bring bags or pay for them.  I shopped at two different stores (Manor and COOP) - the cashiers do not weight your produce.  A mistake I made, causing the line to be delayed at dinner time.  I felt like Meg Ryan's character in 'You've got Mail', the grocery store scene (her apologizing over and over).  I'm used to filling my market basket as I shop, unloading it and the cashier weighing it for me before packing up my basket.

I also wonder why the large food markets are in the basement...

NO one eats or drinks 'to-go' - there is no litter - it's very, very quiet other than church bells - most travel via ferries, metro, buses, trains, or on foot.

Quality!  You will not find Target or Walmart here, in fact I believe most buy a few high quality items that will last a long time vs a summer trend.  I don't know this, just a gut feel.

I have one last post to share with you, our time in Zermatt!

Travel: getting lost in Italy

It feels like so long ago, but this delightful Sunday happened just a few weeks ago - the day we took a wrong turn and ended up in France!

I have mentioned this before but if you are planning a trip to Switzerland please note that most of the country is closed on Sunday due to labor laws prohibiting work.

This made for the perfect excuse to borrow a friends car, driving from Vevey to Aosta Valley (Italy) via the Great St Bernard Pass.

The land of 1,000 castles - here we come!

Great St Bernard Pass: Founded in 1049, this pass has a rich history but was new to me. It's name comes from a monk crossing the Alps to provide hospice care and the dogs were large/hearty enough to help him. So much history to absorb (dating back to the Roman Empire).

Travel: Switzerland {Montreux Noel}

{Source: google images}
Lovely friends of mine,

Imagine this, my first run in Switzerland landed me in Noel Village! I thought it was high in the mountain side but it's a boardwalk festival.

This winter gal bundled up for a run along the shoreline in Vevey, running to the end, up to the main road and around the corner I saw a Ferris wheel in the distance.

Once I saw the Ferris Wheel, I had to see if this was 'the' Noel Village.

Stopping to explore the booths, grab lunch (pretzel and hot cocoa) and walk home while listening to an audio book and taking it in... I was in heaven.

I remember thinking that I'm standing in Switzerland, looking across the lake to France, I just ran from Vevey to Montreux, to the Noel Village, and then I spotted the Chateau and decided to walk there too!  I crossed off several of my must see items in one morning.

Montreux Noel
Montreux:  Known as the Swiss Riviera, is known for their Jazz Festival but also draws people by the thousands daily for the Noel Village.

A day on spontaneity: Saturday we took the train to Lausanne and the ferry across the lake, to Evian.  Having crepes for lunch and walking through Evian's Christmas Village, with driftwood characters for the kids to climb on and explore. In the evening we went to the Noel Village in Montreux for traditional Swiss fondue with a friend.

It was such a fun evening - drinking glug (hot wine) to stay warm, fondue, shopping the booths (craft fair), sampling edibles, and riding the Ferris Wheel. We even tried Absinthe - which tastes horrible.

Smurfed! As you walk the boardwalk of Montreux you can't help but see a lovely exhibit of wintergreen Smurfs, some standing alone, others creating a scene.  Some people are so creative!

I hope you are enjoying experiencing my Switzerland experience, next we are going on a three country road trip via St Bernard's Pass.


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