I’ll start this by saying that Switzerland seems like the country that would track me down and fine me big time if I provided a bit too much info on when this happened: hence why I have not placed my date prior to this statement.
I’ll recount very very carefully and in detail what happened this fateful day. I have such a good memory of the day because of how embarrassed and emotionally scarred I am from this experience. I will first say that I have seen rifle-involved combat in America. I have literally seen humanity’s worst…but this day in Zermatt will stay in my memory for as long as I am alive.
Firstly, I will say that the town of Zermatt is one of the most beautiful and quaint Alpine towns I have visited. As always, a beautiful crystal clear river flows through the center of town and, thanks to the Matterhorn’s popularity, the town is filled with high-end boutiques, shops, and restaurants. The view of the Matterhorn in the morning is beautifully un-obstructed by light pollution, vapors, and vehicle pollution. This leads me to my next paragraph…
As I approached a small two-lane road leading to the town of Zermatt in my BMW Wagon, I remember seeing a sign. This wasn’t the sign that Ace of Base saw, but this sign basically said in a few languages, “DON’T DRIVE PAST THIS POINT!!!!” I’ll also say that, at this point, my dear friend ATGorham said, “Hey that guy drove in. I’m sure it’s fine.”
Well, this wasn’t actually fine. This was very very not fine.
After driving past that sign, I immediately felt a sense of dread. I knew entirely I should not be doing this. However, I had the encouragement of two of my childless drinking-in-the-car friends. I should also include that, as an American, I never felt the need to Google “How to drive in Zermatt”. That’s not exactly a normal thing to search for when approaching a new location. I am also aware that this does not excuse me from what happened.
Basically, I drove straight into the heart of Zermatt. This was the dumbest thing that I have ever done (and I’ve toured BRUSSELS). I remember verbally saying in the car, “Jesus Christ I don’t think I’m supposed to be driving here”. My goodest friend Dusty responded in kind with, “You are getting some weird weird looks from everybody.” He also laughed as this was happening.
So as I drove amongst streets that are totally not designed for a BMW 325D, two things occurred to me: 1. I don’t care where my hotel is…and 2. I need to get the absolute hell out of here as soon as possible.
As I turned my car around in the middle of Zermatt, I recall a lot of people looking at me like I was basically the biggest idiot on Earth. I struggle to put into words what the tourists of Zermatt looked like…but, essentially, they were letting me know that I was a complete moron.
After turning around and finding a relatively quiet street to try and “get the hell out of dodge”, this sweet Swiss woman waved at me to stop driving. I rolled down my window and immediately told her in German, “This was my mistake. I’m driving out of the city.” In the nicest way possible, she told me, “Yes yes you must leave. The Police will be coming soon.”
Well, I got the hell out of there. As I drove out, I thought, “If any Police vehicle passes, they’ll know that the idiots with Snowboards and Skis on the top of their car deserve to be fined.”
I got out of Zermatt and pleasantly parked at the Täsch Bahnhof (what I should have done originally). We made our way to Zermatt via train…….which, according to Google, is the appropriate way of getting to Zermatt. As we rode the train to town and ultimately caught one of the absolutely adorable taxies, I sat in an enormous pool of humiliation. It was unreal. My heart was racing and I was a sweaty mess…even as I was, now legally taking transport direct to my hotel ( Fantastic Hotel Jägerhof ), I could not get over how stupid I had been.
Nothing short of copious amounts of Swiss beer (see above) made me forget about my first night in Zermatt.
The next day I was able to happily enjoy the expensive slopes above Zermatt and even got to touch glacier ice for the first time. I also had the opportunity to snowboard from over the Swiss/Italian border and, of course, consume a beer.
To sum this trip up: I didn’t travel with kids, don’t ever drive here, bring lots of Francs, and never forget your views of the Matterhorn.
If there’s anything you feel is missing or if you’ve got any questions, drop a comment below! I’ll get back to you!
Bis zum näschtes mal!-the snowboard dad in europe