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There are countries you can always count on. Countries that never let you down. Countries that make you walk on cloud nine. Literally.
Switzerland is one of them.
Jagged, proud mountain peaks as cathedrals of humility where human beings realize their smallness and settle in the eternal peace of their essential selves. All else is a surrogate, a delusion. The climb, the muscles burning, nails screeching on stone, the thirst. That’s all that matters. The cutting winds, the cold.
And then an evening in front of the fireplace in a pretty chalet or the generous, balmy afternoons around Lake Geneva.
The beauty, the calmness of a steady pace, the cleanliness. Marmots squeaking and ibex prancing at 2500 m above sea level.
The post bus worming its way on narrow ribbons of asphalt facing the abyss, sounding its horn before a hairpin curve.
Rain and drizzle and searing sun in August.
Switzerland. Expensive with good reason and worth every “centime“.
Copyright photography: Andreea Sepi 2015.
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– by guest blogger Armand Csordas –
It all started when I found out that I can get a car for tests over the long German reunification weekend. In the office I have a reputation as a fan of front drive family cars, something quite rare in my company, which produces mainly rear drive overpowered race cars. I think you have guessed where I work. Well, BMW just started to sell the Series 2 Active Tourer and I got the chance to… play with it. 🙂 It was the full option version 225i.
Where should I go?… Didn’t have to think long. One of my old dreams has been to see the Matterhorn and that’s where I was heading. September and October are perfect up there, the tourist hordes gone, the sky clearer than usual. I quickly booked accommodation, I truly relished pushing the Start-Stop button, I revved the engine and off I was. The road in Switzerland offered “sheer driving pleasure”.
I arrived in the small village of St. Niklaus quite late in the afternoon, changed into my mountaineering clothes and boarded the train to Zermatt. There I jumped on the first train to Gornergrat. The ticket seller looked at me weirdly and told me that I have only one our left to spend at the top of the mountain. I told her it was fine and embarked on the train that drives on rails that are more than one hundred years old (the track was first opened in 1898).
On the way I had my first glimpse of the majestic Matterhorn (4478 m) and I was simply amazed. It is the biggest mountain I have ever seen from up close.
I started to push the camera shutter button many, many times. The train was quite empty and after half an hour I reached the end station at an altitude over 3000 meters. Amazing engineering.
I decided to trek down to the next station. I had one hour to do it and it was not very far. The sun was setting and the clouds were dancing over the towering peak. I was alone. I started the descent and I remained out of breath. One reason was the scenery and the other was the high altitude.
It was so quiet that the only thing I heard was my own heart beating. The solitude was so rewarding. I left with the last train just before the darkness set in.
For the next day I planned to go nearer to the Matterhorn to the Trockener Steg with the cable car. I imagined hiking over a glacier, crossing over into Italy and taking a lot of pictures as souvenirs.
So I got up at dawn at headed up the rocky expanse. The mountain was immense and impressive. I started taking pictures of myself and the mountain and sharing them by email seconds after recording them. 🙂 I was so proud of being there just like many of the tourists that paid big money to see this destination and collect points in the game of life. I, too, wanted to tick this box and I did it.
I eventually separated myself from the tourists, left the beaten track and hiked alone until I got as close to the mountain as my equipment allowed it. The glacier was really tricky. Two hours passed walking alone and the peace and silence set in my soul.
I was humbled by the majestic peak. I left aside the big goals to tick some more boxes and I let the mountain lead my steps. I did not oppose him. Clouds coming from Italy climbed the Swiss mountain and embraced it. My steps were led to new scenery, all the time being alone with the mountains. Alpine ibex crossed my path and crossed horns with each other.
I stopped to eat out of my bag at a closed log cabin. This time I said my prayers three times before biting into my sandwich. I just felt like praising God for the beauty of Creation.
After this frugal meal, I returned to my little rented room, had a beer and prepared for the drive home. I never looked at all those pictures I took – I wanted to remember the real thing. It will be with me forever, and hopefully now, by sharing, it will stay with you too.