Switzerland: From One End to the Other

Lots of travel yesterday. From Stuttgart to to Glattfelden to Zurich to Zermatt. The idea was to travel to Glattfelden (a town where my mom’s family came from in 1743), then to Zermatt where I am now.  Zurich in one corner of Switzerland and Zermatt on the other side. In the end, got to where I needed to be and met some kind and thoughtful people along the way.


Setting Context: In 1743, some of the Glattfelter families from the town of Glattfelden (Switzerland), a farming town along the Glatt River and near the Rhine, made the decision to emigrate to the British colonies (not yet the United States). It was said, to avoid having their sons forced into military service as mercenaries.

The families arrived in Philadelphia during the summer of 1743. Some settled in York, Pennsylvania and another family relocated to North Carolina (my ancestors). The family name at that time evolved from Glattfelter to Clodfelter. My ancestors first moved to Indiana, to Iowa, then to the Independence/Monmouth area of Oregon in 1888.

Several of my relatives have visited Glattfelden over the years. Kind of a right-of-passage for us. Now it was my turn.

On the way to Glattfelden I saw some of the Rhine, a schloss (castle) sitting on a hill, and farmland from the train.

Rhine River The Rhine

Schoss from Train Swiss Schloss (Castle)

Farm Near the Rhine Swiss Farmland

I arrived in Glattfelden at the train station and not sure what to expect.

Glattfelden Train Station 2 Glattfelden Train Station

Well, I did expect a town to go along with the train station. Yet all I saw was a train station and a few utility buildings. Where was the town? (This is where serendipity comes into play.) When I looked around and into the station, there was nothing there. It looked like the station hadn’t been used for years. I saw some people get off the next train and go over to a shelter by the road, so I went over to ask about the town of Glattfelden. There were two young women, who spoke very good English and helped fill me in on some details. The town, actually, is a bus ride away and my train ticket to Glattfelden would pay the fare. They were interested in my Glattfelter story and would show me around the town and how to get back to the train station.

The old part of the town (population of 5,000) is very well preserved and gives an excellent impression of what it might have looked like 250 years ago.

Glattfelden Building 1 Glattfelden Buildings

Glattfelden 7Glattfelden Buildings

Glattfelden 6 Glattfelden Buildings

The young women (twin sisters) told me about their schooling and future careers. They were very proud of their town, and I can see why. Several people drove by and waved. Friendly!

The one building I knew was around when my ancestors were there was the church, which I understand is being from the 1500’s.

Glattfelden Church Outside 1 Glattfelden Church

Glattfelden Church Outside 2 Glattfelden Church

Glattfelden Church Inside Glattfelden Church Inside

There are church records, from prior research, that have Glattfelter ancestors who were baptized here. The interior has been remodeled, but I would imagine that my ancestors would still recognize the outline of the building. How did it feel to be there? Would have to say it was nice, and perhaps, comfortable would be another word. It really helped having the two sisters guide me. We went to the graveyard, but they said the older graves by the church had been moved to the new cemetery, but we didn’t see any headstones from that time in the new cemetery.

The sisters stayed with me until the bus came to take me back to the station. They provided instruction to the bus driver so he would issue me the proper ticket to get me to Zurich. Though I was only in town for a little over an hour, I was very satisfied with my visit and very grateful to those two sisters.


Why Zermatt? Because I have always found the Matterhorn interesting. Perhaps it started when I saw, “Third Man on the Mountain” a Disney movie from the 50’s or maybe its unique shape. Or it could be I was from Hood River and was on Mt. Hood a lot in my early years, being a skier and proud my dad was a mountain climber (Hood River Crag Rats http://www.cragrats.org).

When I knew I was going to Europe, the Matterhorn was another place that I had to visit (like sitting on the park bench in St. James’s Square). When planning for my visit, I needed a place to stay. But where? When I saw that Zermatt was the closest town next to the mountain, that decision was made.

On the train at Zermatt, I was sitting in a 2×2 seat (where two people face two people sitting across from each other with a table in between). This guy sits down across from me. We started talking and when he found out that I was headed to Zermatt, he said he was a mountain climber, as a hobby, and had been to Zermatt about 20 times. He also recommended some other resorts I might want to visit. (Side Note: I have this idea in my head that if someone offered me the job of being a caretaker of a chalet in a ski resort in the Alps, I’d take it. I love the mountains, snow, and hiking.)  We talked for about an hour, about work and travel – and as we arrived at Bern, he gave me a mini-tour of the city from the train. I may visit Bern after I leave Zermatt.

I had a little surprise after leaving Bern for Visp (the starting point for the final leg of my trip to Zermatt). The train’s route would take us through the Lotschberg tunnel, a 21 mile tunnel.

About 30 minutes prior to the tunnel, I was checking the map on my phone, trying to figure out how I was going to catch the 6:10 train in Visp, based on where I was currently on the map.  According to my calculations, couldn’t be done. Was there a time change? Was my itinerary wrong? And then we entered the Lotschberg tunnel – at high speed! And before you knew it, Visp train station was approaching at 6:05. Wow!

After leaving the Visp station, we very soon started our climb to Zermatt through a river valley. The train hugged the hillsides on our hour long trip.

Train to Zermatt

We passed very close to several homes and saw some slate roofs. Very interesting!

Roofs of Homes on Way to Zermatt Slate Roofs

And made it to Zermatt right on time! Of course, I was looking for the Matterhorn, but it was overcast and raining. Before heading to the new flat, I stopped by the store for some basics (bread, cheese, and beer). My Airbnb host was very nice and showed me all the flat’s features. Small, but very comfortable and quiet. Had some good views too from the balcony!

View from Zermatt Flatt 2 View from Zermatt Flatt 1

IMG_20160817_184245 Front of Building

After an excellent night’s sleep, I woke early to find sunshine. After a quick cup of coffee I headed out to get my first look at the Matterhorn, and I was in awe.

Matterhorn in Morning Matterhorn at Sunrise

Matterhorn in Morning 1 Matterhorn with Clouds

Matterhorn and Zermatt Matterhorn with Zermatt

What a great way to start the day!

After this morning jaunt, I finished settling in and prepared for a longer walk later in the morning. When I went out again, I looked for a better place to take some pictures of the mountain. After a little hike, found a spot to rest and take a few pictures. (Maybe more than a few pictures . . . )

Matterhorn 7Matterhorn 6 Matterhorn 5Matterhorn 8

Matterhorn 10 Trying for a picture without clouds

On the way back towards town, I followed the river, supplied by the glacier with the same name – Gornea.

Gornea River 2Gornea River

After a few treks through town today, I’m beginning to find my way around. Was able to use the river and the train station as reference points. (Good to have a few key places that can serve as a reference point when you’re not sure where you are.)

After lunch, I went grocery shopping (for the next few days) and get an idea of how much things cost in Switzerland. Was pleasantly surprised that the costs were not too far out of line. For $50 UDS, I was able to buy this:

Groceries in Zermatt Groceries for 3 Days

I have food for breakfast, lunch and dinner for about 3 days. The broccoli was $1.10 and Orange Juice $2.95. The prices at restaurants are much more expensive.

After an afternoon rain shower, I saw that it was clearing up. Maybe I can get a picture of the Matterhorn without clouds?  Success!

IMG_20160817_184352 Matterhorn (No Clouds)

Clouds are fine, just wanted to see the whole mountain.

During my evening walk after dinner – got a fine picture at sunset.




5 thoughts on “Switzerland: From One End to the Other”

    1. Almost replied back that most places look like Swiss chalets, then realized that (duh) this is Switzerland and, yes, they are chalets. There are some up in the hills that are way over the top.

  1. I have been employing my trusty map to follow all of your travels. I love maps and perusing them especially with a route to follow. Yours has been a fun one to track. Second hand enjoyment…thanks!

    1. Think you gave me an idea. Maybe I should include a map when I go to a new location, rather than assume everyone know where it is? Thanks Connie!

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