Caravan Sonnet: Zermatt // Switzerland

12/18/18

Zermatt // Switzerland

Happy Tuesday friends! It is hard to believe that there is only ONE week left till Christmas! Have you finished all of your Christmas shopping? We are pretty much ready over here. This year we have gone simple. Simple in decorations. Simple in expectations. Simple in delighting in the seemingly "small" but most important aspect of each of our lives: people. This has been one of the richest holiday seasons... finding joy and beauty in the everyday... honoring the space between what was and not yet... and falling in love with the true meaning of this season.

My heart entered into this season broken in many ways... I was hurting deeply from some personal situations and I have found grace meeting me at each day...and some beautiful answers to some deeply personal prayers that are the best gifts. I hope that you have encountered peace and grace meeting you each day friends.
Today I am so excited to share with y'all some pictures from our trip to Switzerland last year! It is hard to believe that it is a year ago that we embarked on our Viking Cruise trip (absolutely amazing!) and that trip remains a very special place in my heart. While it was a writing job trip, it was the most beautiful and sacred trip for my mom and I. I will truly treasure it always! 
Before the Viking Cruise trip started on December 29th, my mom and I decided to spend a short 48 hours in Switzerland exploring on our own. We flew out of Boston on December 26th and landed in Basel, Switzerland (where our cruise was departing from) on Wednesday, December 27th. We checked into our hotel in the early afternoon (around 3pm) and then took a quick hour nap before heading out to Bern. We spent a couple of hours exploring that city, walking around, walking through the Christmas markets, seeing some beautiful cathedrals, before heading back to our hotel for the night. The next day (December 28th) we left early in the morning to catch a couple of trains that took us down to Zermatt.
We chose Zermatt because my mom had always wanted to see the Matterhorn, and I was desiring to see any of the beautiful mountains of Switzerland. I had never been to Switzerland before (but had heard so many beautiful stories from my mom and my grandmother) that I had always wanted to go. 
Now, if you have been around this blog for any amount of time you know that I say this about a lot of places but I truly fell in love with Switzerland. I honestly think that is why I was so enamored with my time in Hatcher Pass (Alaska) this past summer- the beauty reminded me of each place. Anyways... there are places that you visit when you travel and sometimes you walk away and say, "wow, that was really amazing to see" but you don't necessarily want to go back... and then there are places that you visit and you say, "when is the next time I can come?" *smiles* For me 2018 held two of those incredible travel trips with the time in Switzerland and my trip to Alaska. All of that to say... plan a trip to both places. *smiles*.
Zermatt is a beautiful place located in southern Switzerland (from Basel it took us about 3 hours by train to reach it). It is a mountain resort city that is known for skiing (obviously) and hiking. The town lies beneath the Matterhorn peak and as you walk along the adorable streets you can see the mountains surrounding in 360 views this beautiful place. 
The main street (Bahnhofstrasse - you saw a picture of the street sign above) is lined with boutique hotels, shops, and restaurants. The town also includes homes, apartments, and various lodges and includes a cathedral and has public outdoor rinks for ice-skating. 
What started out as a agricultural community till the mid-19th century has transformed into a booming tourist skiing and climbing attraction place to visit. Much of the local economy is now from tourism and as of 2017 we learned that there is only approximately 1/3 of the permanent population that was actually born in the town. Most have moved from other places outside of Switzerland to come and work and live and play in Zermatt.
The village was "discovered" in the mid 1800s by British mountaineers. It was Edward Whymper (a British mountaineer) who made the village famous because of his conquest of the Matterhorn. What was surprising for me to learn in my research was that the Matterhorn was one of the last of the Alpine mountains to actually be conquered (1865). That really isn't that long ago when you consider the span of history.
While the beginning expedition of the Matterhorn ended in tragedy (only 3 of the 7 hikers survived the descent trek), the mountain was officially conquered and is now the starting point for many hikes, including the Haute Route which was first used at the conquest.
There are 12 total towns that are considered "the Best of the Alps" with Zermatt included as one of them. It was honestly easy to see why it was chosen as one of the 12 because the quaint Switzerland architecture and village life surrounded by the mountains was stunning.
We spent most of our time up at Gornergrat (which I can't wait to share more about with y'all!) but it was fun to walk through, explore, and see the village of Zermatt. This church was particularly a special and unique thing to see because of my family's historical connection to it.
Many decades ago, my grandmother ("Ba") and grandfather took a very special trip before he passed away to Europe. There are pictures in her home that I have always seen from their trip, including this church and the top of Gornergrat (at a restaurant that my mom and I ate at!). It was surreal to see this place and walk in the same area that my grandmother had done so many years ago. What a neat experience to see this part of the world like they did!
Just a side note too- we looked at staying in Zermatt for a night but the cost was just too much. If you want to explore Zermatt and are finding the same issue I would definitely recommend looking at staying in Basel or Bern like we did and then taking the train down to Zermatt. The train ride itself was breath-taking during the day time and at night it was a beautiful ride back through the lit up Swiss countryside. It was a beautiful experience in itself that I can't recommend enough. 
Thanks so much for reading along today friends! I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into Zermatt! I hope you have a wonderful Tuesday!

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