It's one of our all time favorite travel destinations in summer, Switzerland's Zermatt with its world famous Toblerone look-alike peak. Each time it's not just about being there among mountains, glaciers and the villages' amenities, it's always about film making in very different situations, too. Our short trailer "How does it feel - Zermatt" puts together some moments referring to this variety of challenges.
It's 6.30 a.m. on a summer morning on a plateau beneath the east face of the Matterhorn at about 3.000 meters of altitude, it's so cold that we can hardly handle our tripod. There's no sound around despite a small glacial stream nearby, and we feel like the only people on earth -- knowing quite well that the lovely and crowded town of Zermatt lies just 1.400 m below us. We just stand and wait for the sun to rise behind some ice-coated peaks in the distance, ready to enjoy the moment and ready to capture it with our film camera. It's not the first time we do so, meaning we learned our lesson after lots of sunrises that looked just like something dark turning bright -- and that's it.
This time we are prepared to truly catch the moment with a complex arrangements of lenses and filters. The spectacle unfolds, and after some minutes we have to make a quick decision whether to go on with the sunrise or to move over to the giant face of famous rock behind us which glows tremendously in the rays of light. It's a state of mind somewhere between poetics and technique, and we decide to go for a change of camera position. If we would not have done, we would have missed a full moon beautifully disappearing behind Matterhorns' Furggengrat. And it's not just about changing the direction of shooting, it's about a whole new camera set-up that has to be fixed within minutes as the light comes in a totally different angle -- and as a panorama with its broad perspective.
Is that still enjoyment of nature or is it more technical nerdism? It's both, in a good way. You look at things differently through the lens of a film camera, you think about the light and the wind and the angle and many different things. We tried to witness the beauty of nature without all that stuff we carry with us. It may sound weird, but without the necessity of capturing the moment -- and thus being an active part of it -- we did not feel the same intensity. By adapting our set-up to ever changing situations, we literary sense the sometimes visible texture of the air, the colours of a waterfall or the movements of alpine daws. To us, the variety of technical challenges you need to handle during a single day in the Alps is a substantial part of the whole adventure.
Of course the scenery changes even more on a day down in the valley. Zermatt offers numerous opportunities from traditional processions, old Walser architecture or luxury shopping, to name but a few. You can spend a whole day like a reporting team shooting the obvious -- as well as stumbling upon many unforeseen opportunities to get nice footage. For example, we found some tourists in flip-flops having an encounter with some tough guys in full mountain gear just returning from the icy heights, all of them having hash browns at a restaurant while an alphorn concert played in the distance.
Transportation is quite special in Zermatt as well. We are in the mountains, and so are the means of locomotion. From helicopters to mountain railways to areal cable cars, there's a lot to experience as a passenger and a film maker. We had them all -- except for the Air Zermatt helicopter from the inside (and up-over-the-mountains) perspective. We will bridge this gap soon, hopefully with some nice footage -- not to think of the equipment fuss we will have to face for that...
Information about Zermatt:
Zermatt (Valais, Switzerland)
1.600 meter altitude
Best travel time for hikers: August and first half of September
Language: mainly German and Swiss German, but also English, French and Italian
Summer activities: Hiking, climbing, via ferratas, summer skiing, paragliding, golfing, mule trekking, tennis, golf, helicopter sightseeing flights and many more.
Culture: Zermatt offers concerts and festivals (e.g. Zermatt Festival of Classic Music in September or the Folklore Festival on the second weekend in August), a cinema and galleries.
Interesting spots: Glacier garden, Gorner canyon, many mountain lakes, railway station Gornergrat at 3.000 meters, historic centre of Zermatt, Zermattlantis (a museum of local history, featuring the original alpine rope used by the first climbers of the Matterhorn; it broke and led to the death of four men in the group of seven), Forest Fun Park and many more.
Special tips: Zermatt has a strong English tradition due to the English mountain hikers that have visited since the 19th century. There is an English church, even a whole English district and some English bars.
Accommodation: From simple backpackers to deluxe hotels, as well as many mountain huts which are open from June/July to September (depending on the weather).
Food: Sushi, raclette, doner kebab: In Zermatt, you can have it all. You can choose between rustic Swiss cuisine, Michelin Star restaurants and places with all types of European and Asian food. Make sure to try some Swiss chocolate and Valois jerky!
For more information about Zermatt see http://www.zermatt.ch/en/index.cfm.