From Zermatt we took the beautiful Glacier Express, self-described as “the world’s slowest express train” to St. Moritz. In the winter this is one of the world’s most expensive ski resorts, vacation destination for the rich and famous. It still brags that it was the site of the Winter Olympics in 1928 and 1948, though we thought that after 66 years they might get over that. It is also allegedly the original site of winter tourism in the Alps and perhaps in all of the world: in 1864, exactly 150 years ago, the first British winter tourists arrived here.We found it a pretty sleepy place in the summer. There were signs all around of the wealth the town is famous for – a big Rolls Royce in front of a neighboring hotel, exclusive designer shops, pricey menus – but not much activity in our two days here.
One of the amusing things about this area is that it seems as though throngs of Japanese tourists keep them in business. Everywhere you turned there was another big Japanese group moving (slowly) in a clump somewhere, all with their big floppy hats to keep the sun at bay. The restaurant we ate at our first night was nearly empty, and by the time we were finishing up we were the only patrons, so we talked for a while with the owner. He explained that yes, by 9:30 it was quiet, but at 6:00 PM he’d had a group of 35 Japanese. I won’t miss those big groups when we move back into France!
The other amusing feature of the area is that if you stay two or more nights at a hotel (we stayed two nights) they give you a free pass to all transportation in the region, including chairlifts and all that to get up into the mountains. So our experience is that everything in Switzerland is either two- or three-times as much as in other places … or it’s free. We liked the free part.
And yes, we did another hike here. Beautiful mountains and valleys, great trails, perfect weather, and (of course) hordes of Japanese. Here are some more of our favorite pictures.