Sep 3, 2019 - 12:14 AM
in reply to Kandis
The Glacier Express (GEX) is extremely well marketed, such that ordinary trains on the same route get 'missed' by many tourists
In practice the GEX is just an ‘exclusive’ set of trains on a normal railway route with plenty of other normal - non supplement , reservation-free trains on it.
If you are already holidaying in the Swiss Alps you won't necessarily see anything more spectacular from the Glacier Express that you would not have already seen on other jaunts.
To understand the above, it is worth taking a moment to understand the Glacier Express and its history:
It was created (as one train each way daily) with the notion that well-healed travellers taking long holidays in Switzerland in the ‘Belle Epoque’ era (1930s) would stay in Zermatt and then also go and stay in the other fashionable resort of the time, St Moritz. The train was named (mainly) after the Rhone Glacier which has now melted so much that you don’t see it from the train and in any case the train runs under the Rhone Glacier in a base tunnel which replaced the Furka mountain section in 1982.
A summary of things to bear in mind about the Glacier Express:
1) Although the whole journey is in the mountains, a lot of it is in valleys - where you get some good views of bubbling rivers but not all the time - there are some mundane sections.
2) in truth there are only 4 really spectacular sections - in order West to East: the loops around Grengiols and Fiesch; Andermatt - Oberalppass - Disentis; Ruinaulta (Rheinschucht aka Rhein gorge); Albula north ramp loops and spirals Tiefencastel - Filisur - Preda
3) The trip is a long one - tourists can frequently be seen sleeping rather than watching the view and missing the spectacular bits anyway!
4) the same railway lines can be travelled using ordinary local trains which are no slower in practice due to the single track infrastructure