June 8: Visp to Zermatt

We left camp about 6:45 to drive to St. Nicklaus to catch the train to Zermatt. We drove up a very narrow valley - often there was a deep gorge off to the side of the road. There were a lot of vineyards - rather poor looking, and small villages perched on the hills. We were impressed by the roofs of the houses - they were made of rock slabs 1 - 1 1/2" thick and up to 3 feet across. The houses were, for the most part made of bare wood and very sturdily made - presumably to hold up the stone roof and heavy loads of snow in the winter. Though many of the houses were poor, the churches in the small villages were big, magnificent stone buildings.

We caught the train to Zermatt at St. Nicklaus (It cost Sf 12.00 return from there compared to Sf20.20 from Visp). We climbed steadily and began to pass patches of snow. In meadows of wildflowers were many small shacks built of heavy timbers (at least 2x6 for siding). They had the stone roofs and had doors on two or three levels - evidently for use in the heavy snow season. They all looked deserted. They had no chimneys, so we wondered how they were heated.

The weather was terrible when we reached Zermatt and it grew steadily worse. It rained and cloud covered the valley, obscuring all the mountain views. The only thing we saw was the town with its shops. All conveyances in the town were either battery driven carts or horse drawn carriages. The fancy hotels had nice horse drawn carriages to take their patrons to and from the railway station. The horses had sleigh bells on and sounded cheery and Christmassy.

We got some excellent pastries at bakeries in Zermatt. Some more of the strawberry tarts and some "ladyfingers" with excellent pastry and creme filling.

At 12:45 there was no sign of the weather letting up so we caught the train back to St. Nicklaus. We bought groceries and spent the rest of the afternoon around camp - the weather was too bad for much else.

There is a small mountain road which leads above the campsite, back through the vineyards. We can hear the bugle-like horn of the post-bus as it travels this road. It has three notes in the same intervals as the first three notes of "Taps" - it blows them in various combinations. We can hear it blow at ever greater distances as it travels up the mountain road.

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