14 day trip to Switzerland September 2017 - Part 3

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Jan 16, 2018 - 12:42 AM

Sunday was our jouney on the Gotthard Panorama Express. We took the boat sadly leaving Lucerne for Fluelen but excited for the next adventure. The boat ride is three hours of unbelievably gorgeous views. We sat outside again and it was amazing! We were blessed with such perfect weather! We enjoyed looking at all of the various ports we stopped at.

Once we arrived in Fluelen, we boarded the train which departed approximately fifteen minutes later. The train ride was wonderful and very informative. When we arrived in Bellinzona, we decided to go directly to Lugano and caught the next train there. Lugano was a bit of a struggle for us logistically. We knew which bus to take but couldn’t find the bus stop. Apparently, we went out the wrong side of the train station. We eventually found our way to our Airbnb but our hostess wasn’t there. Her neighbor let us in and after waiting forty-five minutes for her we decided we should try to make our way to the lakefront.

Most everything was in Italian so we had a bit of a struggle interpreting the signs. The rest of Switzerland was very English friendly but not so much in Lugano. We got on a bus that we thought was going to the lakefront but to our horror it kept climbing and going farther out of town. Eventually, we were the only ones on the bus and then the bus driver pulls over and turns the bus off. We were wondering what was going on. After a couple of minutes, he starts the bus again and continues on. We assume he was a few minutes ahead of schedule. We kept driving and were at least heading downwards when I attempted to talk to the bus driver. A nice woman overheard and talked to him in Italian and told me the answer in English. We got to the lake eventually but I think it took an hour. Anyway, we had a nice meal in Lugano and tried to relax before we made our way back to the bnb uneventfully.

The next day, we got to the train station early because we were taking the Bernina Express to St. Moritz and didn’t know where the departure point for the bus was. A helpful train employee walked us to the right spot. We had time to enjoy a cup of coffee beforehand so we sat outside and enjoyed the morning. We had reserved the first row of seats on the bus which was wonderful because we could see how close the corners and the road were for the bus driver. The roads are so narrow! I included a picture of a harrowing turn where we encountered a semi truck. We enjoyed the views and 1 ½ hours later we stopped for a restroom and refreshment break.

Once we reboarded the bus, the scenery was a little less exciting as we were on an interstate instead of the beautiful back roads of Italy. We arrived in Tirano, Italy and had lunch. It was very inexpensive and filling. Because of myswissalps, I knew to bring euros for our lunch in Italy. It was very easy to figure out where to board the Bernina Express train as you can see the train tracks from the Tirano Square. The sights were once again breathtaking from our seats in the panoramic train.

Upon arrival in St. Moritz, we walked into the train station and told them we were staying at The Crystal Hotel. They called the hotel for us and they were there to pick us up five minutes later. This hotel was amazing! We recommend it wholeheartedly! The staff was very welcoming and we enjoyed our hotel room very much. We enjoyed walking around St. Moritz taking in the sights. We were looking for a restaurant and found that the special at most of them was venison. We enjoy venison but just wasn’t in the mood for it so we wound up back at our hotel. We ate in the hotel restaurant and what a treat! It was one of the best meals I have ever had. I had a fish dish and my husband had lamb. They brought us a complimentary dessert tray that was to die for.

We went back up to our room and upon returning found that the staff had turned down our beds for us, left chocolates and dimmed the lighting. It was beautiful and unexpected! If you stay at The Crystal Hotel, you will discover more fun and wonderful surprises. The next morning, we had the included breakfast buffet and it was above and beyond what was the norm. I would love to stay there again!

Tuesday, we took the Glacier Express from St. Moritz to Zermatt. The whole journey was wonderful but we definitely enjoyed the scenery much more the first half of the day. We really enjoyed the River Rhone! It was gorgeous! About halfway in, they serve lunch and we had ordered the three course meal beforehand. It was very good! After lunch, they offered after dinner drinks and my husband had one; mainly, to watch the woman pour his drink from about four feet above the glass. She was very talented!

We enjoyed listening on our earbuds to the stories about the various locations along the route. Keep your eyes peeled for mountain goats on the rocky ledges. I so wanted to see one and my eagle-eyed husband spotted two of them on our journey. We arrived in Zermatt around 4:00. We immediately walked to the Matterhorn Museum. Our luggage would not fit in the lockers so they graciously let us leave them behind the counter while we toured the museum. The museum was interesting. It is not a “must see” but we certainly enjoyed it.

We walked a little further and found our hotel – The Hotel Jaegerhof. Hotel Jaegerhof has a quaint, chalet feel to it. A couple of interesting things about the hotel – the elevator does not have electric doors. You need to push and pull the doors to open and close them. Also, upon leaving the hotel; you hang your key up at the front desk so you don’t need to carry it with you. Upon your return, you just grab your key and let yourself back into your room. So wonderful! Our room was on the second floor and we had an incredible view of The Matterhorn from our balcony! Another one of those incredible, we couldn’t believe it moments.

We went and did a little shopping in Zermatt and one store employee referred us to a restaurant that he loved. We had our much anticipated dinner of raclettes and it did not disappoint!! It was my husband’s first taste of raclettes and now he knows why I talk about it so much. My mother always told me that after a heavy meal you need to have a glass of kirsch to settle the stomach. I don’t know if that is true or not but both of us enjoyed our glass of kirsch and we didn’t have any stomach issues so take that for what it is worth. We thoroughly enjoyed Zermatt and the laid back atmosphere.

We took our bags to the Zermatt station the next morning and found the lockers downstairs. Another English speaking visitor was struggling with understanding how to use the lockers. We put our heads together and eventually figured them out. We headed across the street to buy our tickets to Gornergrat. We did not wait long. Our train went up in fifteen minutes or so. Sit on the right hand side going up for the best views. We loved the trip up and the views both on the way up and once we arrived. We couldn’t stop taking pictures. We walked around and had a wonderful outdoor lunch. We, like everyone else, kept waiting for the clouds to move on so we could get a great view of the Matterhorn. It really didn’t look like the clouds were going to break up. A train was leaving to go back down the mountain and we were getting on it until my husband pleaded to stay another half an hour so we did. It started to snow while we were up there but we weren’t cold. The clouds kept moving bit by bit. We didn’t get the entire view of The Matterhorn but we saw a significant portion of it. We were happy with our day!

We took the train from Zermatt to Visp to Spiez to Interlaken and finally to Grindelwald. We were on four different trains but the Swiss travel app is so easy to use that we knew exactly what track to go to in each of those cities to catch our next train. They were always there within ten minutes. We arrived in Grindelwald around 6:30 p.m. We were supposed to take a bus to our Airbnb which was outside of Grindelwald but the buses were no longer running. We wound up taking a taxi. While waiting for the taxi, I ran into a convenience store and bought a couple of sodas and a bag of chips.

The taxi took us to our destination which was in a residential neighborhood with no stores or restaurants in sight. Our hostess was on her way home from Zurich so we had her place to ourselves. We let ourselves out into her beautiful backyard, looked up and saw the Eiger right there in front of us. Her house was at the base of the Eiger. It was remarkable!

Since we had no restaurants available to us unless we taxied back into town, we pieced a meal together. We had a bag of chips, a little piece of leftover sausage, a bar of chocolate from our visit to Broc and our two sodas. It worked out just fine – our little picnic! Our hostess, Heidi, arrived home and she was wonderful to talk to. What a nice woman! We were supposed to stay there two nights but after talking to Heidi she totally understood when we said we would like to stay in town the next night. Even though her place is beautiful, it was expensive having to take a taxi both ways to her home. I mentioned before that the Swiss are very generous – Heidi offered her car to us the next day! We appreciatively declined. There was no way we could do that.

Last modified on Jan 16, 2018 - 9:41 AM by Chantal
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Jan 16, 2018 - 2:06 AM

I had to compress my pictures so here you go.

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Jan 31, 2018 - 12:01 AM in reply to Pickergal

Another great trip report - thank you! I enjoyed reading it and looking at the photos.


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