I was in Geneva last week at this time of the morning, so that a couple of hours later I was able to meet up with my mother and take her on a train trip. She had bought herself a four-day train pass and she still had to use it for the fourth (and last time) until midnight. At first, mum’s intention was to go to Martigny to visit the town and to see the famous Fondation Pierre Gianadda.
However, as it had snowed even in Geneva on that morning and as the landscape was beautiful, I felt that it would be a waste not to travel a little further and I thus suggested that we go to the mountain resort of Saas-Fee instead. Although the mum took a little convincing, I was happy that we ended up opting for Saas-Fee as I later found out that the exhibition on Modigliani and the School of Paris she had wanted to see had already ended on the Sunday before our trip (it is always better to check this before hand on the Internet!).
At Visp (or Viège in French as the canton of Valais/Wallis is bilingual), we boarded a yellow postal bus which took us to the village of Saas-Fee, which is perched high up in the mountains, at approximately 1,800m above sea level. The village prides itself in being surrounded by a whole series of mountains that peak above 4,000 metres, including the Dom, the highest mountain entirely on Swiss soil, at 4,545m (but not seen on this photo).
Apart from the gorgeous landscape, what I really like about Saas-Fee is that it is car-free: just like in Zermatt (its neighbour in an adjacent valley) only electrical vehicles are allowed in the resort. Unfortunately, there are only seven other such resorts in Switzerland; here is the full list: Bettmeralp, Braunwald, Mürren, Riederalp, Rigi Kaltbad, Saas-Fee, Stoos, Wengen and Zermatt (see the website of the Community of Car-free Swiss Tourist Resorts, GaST). I really wish that there were more such places as the air is much nicer, believe me!
I had been to Saas-Fee a couple of years ago with my wife on a beautiful sunny day in February. We had gone up to the Mittelallalin (3,500m) on the Metro Alpin (funicular railway) and we had also seen the Eispavillion. It was really an unforgettable experience, so much so that I still cannot fathom out how it took me so long (maybe eight or nine years) to go back to Saas-Fee!
Even though mum and I were not as lucky as the weather was not as sunny this time, we still got to enjoy the beauty and the air purity of the place. In addition, as it was before the start of the ski season, we were able to stroll along the streets of the village almost as if we had them all to ourselves.
After we had crossed the Feevispa, we felt that it was a little too cold for us to go up a cable car and we decided that we would head back. Once back in the centre of this small town, we made up our mind on returning home via the Lötschberg tunnel and then via Berne. Although we spent only two hours in Saas-Fee, it was a nice break away from the pollution of urban life.
On our way from Brig to Berne, we got to see the sun set on the mountains towering above the mist-covered valley of the Rhône. What a delight it was for the eyes!
When the train stopped at Kandersteg (a favourite of mum’s), she asked me to take a picture of the village – but I did not know how to set up the lighting properly, so that the result was this jumble of bright colours … However, after a very short stop at Berne, we then changed trains at Lausanne and headed to Montreux to see the Christmas market, which has become an even much bigger event since the last time I went there (maybe five years ago – but we did not take any pictures on either visit). I suppose I shall go back there with my wife again this year, so you might still get to see some pictures 😉