Allen’s Adventures in Europe – Part Four

Introduction

Stewart Goes Walkies is very pleased to have the latest installment of Allen Lai’s amazing adventures in Europe.

Switzerland, Furka Pass, Rhone Glacier

 

Switzerland 

Once in Switzerland, apart from the change of beautiful alpine scenery along the way, one thing that struck us is the cost of living. Everything is so expensive. A Mcdonald’s hamburger is over double the price in Canada, and they charge extra for ketchup and condiments! A three-course lunch at a roadside restaurant cost Swiss Franc 49.- (CAD 70).

The beautiful Swiss countryside
Davos

We stopped at Davos, A alpine ski resort town, but also famous today for hosting the World Economic Forum—often referred to simply as “Davos”—an annual meeting of global political and corporate leaders. We checked into the 5-star landmark Alpine Gold Hotel, enjoying the hotel facilities and a nice dinner. The room is beautifully decorated, and what I love best is, the mini bar is on the house.

The Alpen Gold Hotel, spectacular under the setting sun
The inside of the hotel

The next day was spent driving from Vaduz to Tasch, where we boarded the train to Zermatt.

Furka Pass

It was over a six-hour drive. In the first part, we fully enjoyed the countryside.  The amazing mountains, heaps of crystal clear lakes and beautiful villages, endless pastures, and grazing, make for the most beautiful scenery in Switzerland.

Then from Obergoms. We started zip zap climbing the mountain on the alpine road to Furka Pass, which is recognized as the most Scenic Ride in the Swiss Alps. It twisted and turned all the way. Most parts are barely wide enough for two cars to pass. Add to that, today is cloudy, so we were in and out of the mist. One moment, we could barely see 10 meters, the next we saw over the 1000 feet sheer drop on one side of the road. It made my Disney ride looks like baby stuff.

On the way to Furka Pass – the burgers were double the price in Canada and you had to pay extra for the condiments

Swerving precariously around switchbacks, the road tops out at the 2429m (7969ft) Furka Pass, where we could peer across the lunar rockscape of a wind-battered plateau.

After all the full-on, hairpin-riddled drama and views of austere peaks and glaciers that drew constant gasps. I felt like James Bond behind the wheel, and of course, it is this very same road that starred in the car chase scene in the 1964 movie Goldfinger that brings out the 007 in everyone.

The zip-zag roadway climbs up the Furka Pass.
More views of the amazing road

 

Hotel Belvedere

On the way down, we stopped by Hotel Belvedere, an iconic Alpine hotel set on one of the many hairpin turns along Furka Pass. It was built in 1882, the Hotel is now abandoned but was a popular spot for exploring the Rhone Glacier. Even Sean Connery was a guest during the filming of Goldfinger.

Hotel Belvedere with the open-air hot springs bath in the foreground
The Rhone Glacier

The Rhone Glacier is only 200 m away, we took a few photos before the long, sweeping descent to Andermatt. Breathtaking views of deep valleys, small Swiss villages, and twisting hairpin turns to iconic hotels and the oldest glacier in the Alps, Furka Pass is an unforgettable driving experience.

The Rhone Glacier at a close distance
Zermatt

In order to prevent air pollution that could obscure the town’s view of the Matterhorn, the entire town is a combustion-engine car-free zone. From Tasch, we took the 20-minute train ride to the town. It is the mountaineering and ski resort of the Swiss Alps. The narrow streets were packed with hikers, and tourists, and I was reminded of my days in Namche Bazar, a mountain village in Nepal.

The final approach to Zermatt, a gas vehicle-free city from Tasch by train.
Still suffering the effects of COVID, the train station was almost deserted
The modern and efficient train service running between Zermatt and Tasch
The 20-minute train ride climbs up the mountain along a river
The Town
The not-so-busy mountain resort town of Zermatt
I was curious why there is a cemetery right in the middle of this little alpine town
Along the narrow car-free street, as long as you have money, you can buy anything. From cheap T-shirts to expensive jewelry
I can’t imagine why anyone would go the time, trouble, and expense of traveling to Zermatt just to have Japanese food
The well-stocked supermarket

 

That night, we stayed at Hotel Albana Real, a 4.5 stars boutique hotel with 5 stars deco, service, and food. We are keeping our fingers crossed for the weather for Matterhorn tomorrow.

Conclusion

Allen’s adventure brought back childhood memories of vacationing with my parents in Switzerland. I must have been around five years old at the time and recall that it was the very first time I had ever seen snow. In Part Five of his amazing adventure, Allen was able to fulfill a lifelong dream of seeing the Matterhorn in all its glory. We will be bringing you that report soon SGW

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Published by stewartgoeswalkies

Happily married man to a wonderful lady. Living in Hong Kong. In my younger days I enjoyed hiking, camping and rock climbing. I've trekked in the Himalayas and climbed Mt. Kinabalu in East Malaysia.

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