It was reported yesterday that residents of Zermatt, the Swiss ski town that lies in the shadow of the Matterhorn, had to be airlifted out due to extra-heavy snow, non-running trains and a fear of avalanches. Gee, that’s too bad. Five and 2/3 years ago Hollywood Elsewhere had a very irritating experience with this precious little hamlet, which is why I feel no sympathy. Here’s the tale once more:
Ever since seeing my first image of the Matterhorn when I was eight or nine I’ve wanted to stand in its shadow and just go “whoa.” So yesterday the guys and I drove the wrong way (i.e., four hours over winding mountain roads) from Lauterbrunnen to Zermatt, the affluent ski town that lies at the base of it.
The trip turned out to be mostly a disaster. Because of an innocent mistake I almost got slammed with a 350 Swiss franc traffic ticket — thank God I was able to talk my way out of it.
The signs on the long and winding approach to Zermatt fail to explicitly point out a basic fact — you can’t drive into town unless you’re a resident or a cab driver or a city worker. You have to park in Tasch, an ugly little settlement about six kilometers north of Zermatt, and take a train or a taxi in. Fine, no problem, but there are no signs that clearly say this, and certainly none in English.
When I see a sign that says “park here,” I say to myself, “Okay, that’s an option, fine. It’s not something I necessarily intend to do as I am the sole master of my fate, but it’s nice to know it’s there.”
HE suggestion to Zermatt brainiacs: The words “Non-resident passenger vehicles are not allowed in Zermatt” would definitely be understood if you said as much on a road sign. Or how about an image of a car with a big red X or a circle slash across it? Idiots.