The next day I awoke to snow flurries. Perhaps no big deal, but for this Southern California gal, I still get excited catching snowflakes in the palm of my hand. Then again, I can still count the number of times I’ve seen snow.
Near the center of town you can board the highest cableway in Europe for the journey to the top of the Matterhorn. The ascent takes about 45 minutes and starts out small, with two-bench cable cars that soar over the trees. The scene looked so perfect it seemed like a movie set.
At the next station the tiny bulbous cable cars were exchanged for large red gondolas for the ride up to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. Skiers and snowboarders piled in and we were skyward again, soaring over rocky peaks and ridges, until the gondola docked at the next station. Lots of people hit the slopes there, but you can still go even higher.
The next gondola takes you up even further into the clouds, docking at Klein Matterhorn, 12,740 feet up. Up here you’ll find the Glacier Palace, one of the coolest sights I have ever seen in my life.
Exploring the Glacier Palace: a Journey into the Ice
At the end of a long, frosty tunnel sits a solitary elevator door. In the elevator you descend deep below the snow into the heart of a glacier. When the doors open you’re at the mouth of an ice tunnel, lined with blue lights and echoes of swiss mountain music throughout (think yodeling and brass band instruments).
As you descend deeper into the glacier, big icicles hang from the ceiling like sculpted works of art, and there are gaping crevasses to peer into. The ice is crystalized in parts, and smooth in others, often lit with colorful lights that change colors, evoking the Northern Lights. The colors reflect through all the dimensions of ice in prismatic fashion, bouncing through all the unique ice forms and sculptures, so that the ice seems to explode with color, illuminated by the artificially dancing lights.
Tunnels branch off leading from room to room filled with intricate ice sculptures. There was a chapel with a chandelier encrusted in ice flakes that looked like flowers. Alcoves were filled with iced-over sculptures. Around another bend were wooden picnic tables with sheep skins to sit on.
Best of all was the ice tunnel. You can grab cushions that accelerate your slide though the tunnel, shooting you right out the door of a giant igloo! This place is the pure definition of winter wonderland.
After an hour in the glacier, a hot drink was in order. Luckily there was one solitary restaurant up there at the top, with beautiful snow-filled views. I was finally able to de-thaw a bit, and bring my numb hands back to life with a glass of Glühwein,or hot wine.
A day below the snow does tend to chill you to the bone, and there is no better solution to this than a steamy hot sauna. The spa at Romantik Hotel Julen was the perfect solution to a very icy day, followed by dinner in an iconic little ski bar. By the time the meal was over, snow flurries had began to fall again. I wondered if the snow would stick.