Friday, July 30, 2010

Up Close & Personal in Zermatt with the Matterhorn

On the Italian border of the canton of Valais in the west of Switzerland, at the end of the 30 km-long Nikolaital, lies Zermatt, the village at the foot of the Matterhorn, the most photographed mountain in the world. Zermatt epitomises my image of Switzerland: high-alpine, awe-inspiring and original. Almost one-third of the 4,000-metre mountains in the Alps are grouped around this word-famous health resort, which has been visited by mountaineers from all around the world since the first successful ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865. The hotels and restaurants are world-class, and the ski area is not only the highest in the Alps – it is also one of the best developed and most convenient in the world, ensuring thrilling sporting experiences on the steepest slopes in the world – and that 365 days a year. The climate is of an excellent quality: with 300 sunny days a year, there is less rainfall than anywhere else in Switzerland. The air in Zermatt is clear, dry and clean, because, since 1947, only electric cars without a combustion engine are allowed to operate in the village. Things are a little different in Zermatt – A world of its own.

There were so many beautiful scenery shots that I could not afford to take, so forgive the many pictures!

Zermatt was discovered in the middle of the 19th century, in the golden age of high alpinism. Almost one-third of all the 4,000 meter peaks in the Alps are grouped around the village, which has been visited by mountaineers from all around the world since the first ascent of the Matterhorn in the year 1865. A myth was born at that time: the names of Zermatt and the Matterhorn became known all around the world, and Zermatt was regarded as the Mecca of the mountaineers.

And it has remained so up to the present day: more than 3,000 alpinists climb the Matterhorn every year, which is several time more than all the other 37 summits combined. 

I thought this was a beautiful church, so I took a picture of it. Later, we found that a couple was getting married inside! (Pictures are below...)

Not there yet, but getting so close to the Matterhorn!

My first ski lift ride!

Pictures from the ski lift... :)

We were going higher and higher!!

When we initially arrived, the sky was not clear enough to actually see the Matterhorn. However, with a mountain peak as large and irregularly shaped as the Matterhorn, it creates it own clouds...

This would be such an ugly fall... lol!

Just beyond the sunshine, the mountains are covered in snow!

I found my own little patch of "EdelweiƟ", which in the German language means noble and white, is found generally at altitudes from 1700 meters to 2700 meters.

Edelweiss prefers calcareous light soils with excellent drainage and southern exposure, where it likes to form herbal mats, growing from 8 cm to 20 cm tall.

Edelweiss flowers are classified as   short lived perennials, which after being picked during a number of growing seasons from the same plant, are unable to propagate by seeding and will disappear from an formerly established area. 

Remember the song from The Sound of Music?


The destination of Zermatt – Matterhorn is a highly developed tourist center in the midst of an extraordinary and natural high alpine landscape. 75% of the area of the Zermatt municipality are nature reserves of international and national importance, and 400 km of hiking trails lead through magnificent high mountain landscapes, some heavily glaciated. Europe's highest tree line, high alpine vegetation zones with endemic plants that are protected throughout Switzerland. The wildlife habitat here is of great significance. 12 headwaters with 86 springs. The water here is to 95% pure spring water and meets the requirements for drinking water according to the Swiss Food Law.This nature is the raw material for relaxation. 

The peak of the Matterhorn pokes out its heads just before we leave!

Partaking in the wedding day of a new couple, which makes me think of my soon return home to celebrate my 5 year anniversary with my loving and perfect husband on August 5th!  :) 

Watch out, coming through!

Swatch, the number one brand watch in the world, overcomes crisis and leads to the survival of the Swiss watch industry.
In the mid-seventies, the Swiss watch industry was in the midst of its worst crisis ever. Technologically speaking, the Japanese competition had been outclassed in 1979 with the launch of the "Delirium," the world´s thinnest wristwatch with a limited number of components. But the event that marked the upturn in the industry´s fortunes was the founding of SMH, the Swiss Corporation for Microelectronics and Watchmaking Industries. And its answer to the crisis was Swatch-a slim plastic watch with only 51 components (instead of the usual 91 parts or more) that combined top quality with a highly affordable price. It first went on sale in 1983. Since this time, it has gone on to become the most successful wristwatch of all time, and The Swatch Group, the parent company, is the largest and most dynamic watch company in the world.
For many years, new developments have been taking place alongside the standard Swatch watch in plastic-from Irony (the metal Swatch) to the Swatch SKIN Chrono (the world's thinnest chronograph) to Swatch Snowpass (a watch with a built-in access control function which can be used as a ski pass at many ski resorts throughout the world), and Swatch Beat (featuring the revolutionary Internet Time).
Outstanding technical capabilities and advances in the fields of science and technology were already proven by Swatch during its role as the Official Timekeeper in several Olympic Games and Ski and Snowboard World Cup competitions.

Shrimp is on the menu at McDonald's!! 

This was the cost of a happy meal and an apple pie! LOL...

My Venezuelan pal, Rafael, models my orange cola, Mezzo Mix. :)

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