The Gerrard Chronicles 2016 - Traveller's Tales

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A trip to the Alps, staying at Zermatt & Bettmeralp

September 2nd to 11th 2016

Ken complained that he was suffering from "mountain sickness", not having been to them this year. Avis, still with new knee trauma spoke the Famous Last Words, "Can I come with you?". Ken said yes & did some booking, using the convenience of Booking,com.

So we set off for Dover at 0430 for the 0735 ferry to Calais & then, by the French & Belgian motorways to Luxembourg & on to Nancy. We had booked the Hôtel La Tête des Faux on this link over the Pass de Bonhomme in Bonhomme village, then went over the Vosges to Colmar & South through Basel & along the Swiss motorways, right to Sion, having bought a vignette (Swiss motorway sticker) for £35.50 this time. As Avis had never been there, Ken drove up the Val d'Herens to Arolla for lunch, showing her the Rock Pyramids at Euseigne & the Dent Blanche from the 'other' (West, as in not the Zermatt) side. Returning to the Rhone, we found extension work to the motorway making a mess.

Panorama of the Rhone Valley North Side from Vex at the entrance to the Val d'Herens

Euseigne Pyramids from the West

Euseigne Pyramids from the East

Dent Blanche

Arolla, most of it

Mont Collon dominates

We turned up from Visp to Täsch, which is as far as a private vehicle can go, parked & took the train up to Zermatt, where we had booked into the Hotel Bristol on this link, the last one Ken had used there. It is very nice. We had dinner in the hotel but coffee in the Hotel du Pont near the church, an atmospheric old watering hole in which we had interesting conversations in English & German every evening we spent in Zermatt.

Matterhorn first evening

Avis at Blatten Church

Avis at Blatten

For a first day walk in glorious weather, we went up to Blatten. The idea was to go to Zmutt but this was clearly going to be too far for Avis' new iron knee. We went off from the Zmutt path but came back down the long rocky staircase directly from Blatten, requiring Ken's assistance all the way. Clearly, her leg was not up to much Alpinism. We had lunch at the Hotel Alpenrose, the first one comes to in Zermatt proper, with two Norwegians who had arrived the day before & because of the weather, went straight up the Matterhorn!

Ken at Blatten

Dom & Täschhorn from Blatten

Next day, it rained almost the whole time. We did stroll round the town & had some coffees. Lunch in Chez Gabi by the mill stream, after which Ken went to see how much of Old Zermatt is left. Not a lot.

Chez Gabi

Old Zermatt

More old Zermatt

Fortunately, Tuesday was a brilliant day. We went up to Sunnegga, where it proved that Avis was not up to walking to Tuftern, the next village but there were photos to be taken! (Ken has all these from previous trips but not so good resolution).

Panorama from the Weisshorn to the Matterhorn from Sunnegga

Avis at Sunnegga with hill

Bietschhorn in the Berner Oberland

Findeln from Sunnegga

We went down, walked to the South cable car station to find all had changed. There is only a gondelbahn, which goes up to Furi, then to Schwarzsee, then down into the Furgg alley, then up to Trockener Steg. This obviously carries far more people than the old setup. We got off at Schwarzsee. More photos:-

Panorama from the Dom to the Little Matterhorn from Schwarzsee

A late lunch, comprising a Cheese Fondue, which was enough for our dinner. Back to the hotel to pack. We left next morning, retrieving the truck from Täsch. Ken drove back to the Rhone Valley, turned left then right later & took Avis into the Lötschental, which she had never seen before. As it curves away from the Rhone Valley, it is hidden & unknown to most British. An interesting feature is the tiny church at tiny Kühmad, which as a grand Baroque alterpiece, obviously inherited from a grander church.. The Resti Pass was they way Ken came over in 1974 from Leukerbad. We drove back East, up the Rhone Valley Easy (known as Goms), had a brief look at Ernen, then went to the cable-car car park for Bettmeralp, which is only accessible by cable car from the valley. We had booked into the fairly posh Hotel Alpfrieden on this link.

Lötschental looking East

Avis & Kühmad Church

In Kühmad Church

Lötschental looking West to the Resti Pass

Fieschertal & Ernen

Hotel Alpfrieden (in the middle)

Bettmeralp panorama of the Weissmies, Lagginhorn, Mischabel, Matterhorn & Weisshorn

You can only get the Sun on the church in the evening. Next day, we took the gondola to the Bettmerhorn top station (not the top of the Bettmerhorn. Ken scrambled up that last time we were here in 1998). The view was much superior to that we had in 1998.

Bettmeralp Church in the evening

Bettmeralp & Bettmersee from the
Bettmerhorn Gondelbahn station

Aletsch Glacier from the
Bettmerhorn Gondelbahn station

Bettmerhorn panorama above Goms to the East

When we left Bettmeralp the next day, Ken wanted to show Avis the Brunnital, off the Klausen Pass road, so we set off East up Goms, past the much shrunken Rhone Glacier, over the Furka Pass, down past the Devil's Bridge & up the Schäschental. We could actually drive up the Brunnital now.

Rhone Glacier

Furka Pass looking West

In the Brunnital

From the Brunnital looking to the Chinzig Pass

Brunnital from the Klausen road

The Klausen Passhöhe Hotel

We carried on up the Klausen Pass, stopping for lunch in the Passhöhe, then went down to the somewhat industrial Linthal in Glarus Canton. We drove down to the end & to Weesen on the Walensee. Ken had stayed there twice in the antiquated Hotel Schwert but this has been done up & the waitress laughed when he said he had stayed there in 1994.

Hotel Schwert much improved

Walesee from Weesen

Rainbow in the fountain at Weesen

The next day, we started back to Blighty, dodging Basel by the German autobahn but going back into France &, after the trauma of funding a hotel, stayed overnight in Metz. The next day, we intended to use the 'old road' to Calais & half did but a stone took out our exhaust, making the journey very noisy. Being a Sunday, all the Peugeot depots were closed. The lesson we learned is not to do a long Mainland Europe drive at the weekend.

Cruising into the Black Sea

October 8th 2016 to November 7th 2016

...on Fred Olsen's ship, the "Boudicca". This is fully reported on this link.

Art Scene

The Campaign Trail

Traveller's Tales -
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Traveller's Tales -
Capital Ring

Traveller's Tales -
Xmas 2015 in Edinburgh

Xmas 2016
Index page

Contact: Ken Baldry or Avis Saltsman, 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, L6ndon N1 8AY +44(0)020 7359 6294 or e-mail him or her
This page's URL: Last revised 1/12/2016 Copyright: ©Ken Baldry 2016 All rights reserved but print it off if you want to.