Gather a group and make an amazing trip happen. The sheltered many of us have only braved the slopes of the Matterhorn on the kiddie ride at Disneyland. Who knew it was a real place? At the beginning of this year, a group of travelers took an exciting trip to Switzerland to ski on the slopes of the very surreal mountain itself. All the organization was possible using Wetravel, bringing trip organizer, Johannes Köppel and travelers together. I interviewed one of the travelers about her experience of it all and snagged some stunning pictures.
How did you go from seeing the trip on your computer to making it a reality?
KL: Signing up was easy. The trip’s tentative agenda, housing logistics, and payment info were all up on Wetravel. We had an initial deposit and then paid for the rest closer to the trip. All payments handled on Wetravel were relatively painless (I don’t remember the process much, so I’m assuming it had to be fairly painless).
*Readers keep in mind that trips may vary on these logistics
How many people were in the group to Switzerland?
KL: I believe there were about 12 people in total–some came and left early so between 8-12 throughout the entire trip. Some came from my classmates at Haas, and others were from Johannes’ (trip organizer) personal network of friends and colleagues
Did you ever feel like the trip was too structured like a tour and couldn’t enjoy the trip on your own?
KL: It was just right for me. Johannes is from Switzerland so he was a great tour guide and threw in a good mix of tourist must-dos and local treats. For example we stayed in a chalet in Anzere, a little ski town off the beaten path with a mix of locals and some European travelers. But then we made the trek out to Zermatt to visit and ski around the Matterhorn, which absolute breathtaking and was such an international mix that the signs were printed in at least 5 different languages! As for structure, there was always something to do, but was also easy to opt out and do your own thing, explore, hang around the cabin, etc.
How do you think your trip to Switzerland might have been different if you didn’t go through Wetravel to find a trip organizer?
KL: The great thing about Wetravel was traveling in a group with some familiar faces and some completely new people to get to know. But since we all stayed in the same house we were great friends by the end and still keep in touch. In fact, about 7 months after we got back, we ran into one of our travel-mates at SFO (he was coming in from Germany for a couple weeks) and we all ubered back to San Francisco together! Without Wetravel, my boyfriend and I probably would have used the wisdom of Tripadvisor and travel guides to get around which I’m sure would be great too, but with less of the social component of meeting and living with new people.
What will you always remember about the trip?
KL: Eating so much cheese by way of fondue and raclette (basically fondue but with potatoes)! Also, trying to navigate the different types of ski lifts. I’ve been trained on the Tahoe slopes where there is really just one kind of ski lift (which is hard enough), but in Switzerland there were at least 4 different types, all with their own strategies for staying on.
How how did the trip organizer have your sleeping accommodations and meals set up?
KL: We stayed in a 3 story chalet where each person or couple had their own room (and many with a view!). There was also an industrial style kitchen, and we all took turns cooking one of the nights for the entire group. Turns out, eating out is extremely expensive in Switzerland, so we were able to save costs by cooking for each other which fostered even more time to get to know each other and learn new recipes. Johannes actually had us all sign up for a meal day and what kinds of ingredients we would need for the meal, and ordered it beforehand so it would get delivered to us when we got there. We also supplemented with a few lunches out, especially while on the slopes.
What do you want people to know about seeing the real life Matterhorn, and what was some surprising local knowledge that your trip organizer shared?
The Matterhorn is absolutely breathtaking! There’s a whole surrounding mountain range, but there is something so majestic about the Matterhorn and you get take in its wonder as you ski the surrounding resort. Fun fact: the mountain on the Tobblerone chocolate bars is the Matterhorn. Another fun fact: the town of Zermatt which is the base town of the Matterhorn is car free (except for electric buses and taxis). This is to prevent air pollution in the mountains so that the air around Matterhorn and the surrounding mountain range is super clean and crisp! Final fun fact: the ski resort straddles Switzerland and Italy, so we got to cross the border and have lunch in Italy!
Thank you, Kelly Ling, for sharing your experience and beautiful photos from your time in Switzerland. If you would like to go on a trip like this one, Johannes will be doing another next year. Gather all your friends to do the trip because the trips are guaranteed to happen at the minimum number of participants. Don’t worry, if not enough people join you will receive the deposit back. Take a look at some of our other trip organizers’ exciting trips like this one here.