Train across the Oberalppass on a gloomy day

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Jun 20, 2017 - 10:59 AM

On the day I had planned to visit Titlis during my stay in Luzern in late August 2016, I woke up to a gloomy, rainy day, and all the local mountain tops were in the clouds.

As I had a Tell-Pass for this part of my trip, and wanted to put it to good use despite the weather, I pulled out my map showing where it was valid, to get some ideas for what to do instead of my mountain-top visit. I settled on taking a scenic ride on regional trains through the Schöllenen Gorge to Andermatt, then along the Glacier Express route in the direction of Chur. The Tell-Pass was valid as far as Sedrun, so that is where I decided to go.

I had travelled along these routes several times on previous visits to Switzerland, but only in winter when it was all under snow, so this was a good opportunity to see it looking green. I just hoped the clouds would be high enough that the views through the Oberalppass would not be obscured!

Things didn’t start off too well! Visibility in the Schöllenen Gorge was very poor due to fog, and Andermatt was no better. In fact, as the train climbed out of Andermatt, which is one of my favourite parts of the Glacier Express route, the town itself could not be seen at all.

However, we soon left the fog below us, and while there were plenty of clouds around, they were high enough not to spoil the view – rather they lent a dramatic touch to the alpine landscape. Then by the time we arrived in Sedrun, the sun was shining!

On my previous trips on this route, I hadn’t taken much notice of Sedrun station, so I was pleased to discover there was a small flower-bedecked restaurant there, with indoor and outdoor seating. As the weather was now warm and sunny, I sat down at a table outdoors and ordered a schnitzel with salad and chips.

One of the locals walked by with his dog, and stopped to have a bit of a chat. After a while, he asked me if I was having any trouble finishing my chips! I was a bit puzzled, then he explained that if I felt like throwing a few on the ground, his dog would be very happy – so I obliged! To finish up, I indulged myself with an ice-cream sundae topped with blueberries, which the waitress told me were from the local area.

Eventually, a train bound for Andermatt arrived, and I boarded it. As we approached the Oberalppass, the weather was still holding up. Although the sunshine had disappeared, and the clouds looked menacing, it remained dry.

So I decided to get off at Oberalppass to have a look around for an hour, before continuing to Andermatt on the following train. At an altitude of 2,046 metres, this is the highest point of the Glacier Express route.

I wandered around enjoying the remote beauty of the area and the constant tinkle of cowbells. The views of the Oberalpsee (lake) and mountains changed constantly as the clouds were moving quite fast, obscuring the mountain tops, only to reveal them again suddenly a few minutes later.

Although I was the only person to get off the train at Oberalppass, there were a few other people up there, most of whom had arrived by car. I had a chat to a couple from Thüringen in Germany, who had come on an earlier train, and was impressed to see several cyclists there as well!

By the time the next train arrived, it was starting to get quite chilly, so I was glad to be on my way again. The rain was falling steadily as we reached Göschenen, and continued for the rest of the trip back to Luzern.

I have attached some photos I took during this excursion. Some of these spots I had photographed on previous trips, when they were snow covered, so I have attached some of those photos as well, for comparison.

For other ideas about how to do part of the Glacier Express route, see the section "Don't have time to do the full route?" on the following page:

www.myswissalps.com/gl acierexpress

For another idea, please see my post of May 24, 2017 - 4:50 AM on the following page:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/switzerland-trip-guidance

Alpenrose

Last modified on Jun 20, 2017 - 6:47 PM by Arno
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Jun 20, 2017 - 11:06 AM in reply to Removed user

Photos taken betweeen Oberalppass and Sedrun, and at Sedrun station.

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Jun 20, 2017 - 11:10 AM in reply to Removed user

These pairs of photos show a similar scene, but the second of each pair was taken when the area was under snow.

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Jun 20, 2017 - 11:13 AM in reply to Removed user

Some more photo pairs, with the second photo taken when the area was under snow.

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Lucas
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Jun 20, 2017 - 11:32 AM in reply to Removed user

That's hilarious that you were asked to 'donate' some food to someone's dog! haha

Thanks for the report and pictures!

Arno
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Jun 20, 2017 - 6:52 PM

Thanks Alpenrose! We all want sun and blue skies for our trips, but this is a good example of an enjoyable day with "less favourable" weather. Nice to see August versus winter too!

maggiehorswell
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Jun 21, 2017 - 11:43 AM

Hi Alpenrose

What a lovely way to show those photos in pairs - really liked that.

That's another trip we could do while in St. Moritz! Am beginning to think we need to emigrate - the list of what we want to do in Switzerland just gets longer even after all the visits we have been lucky enough to enjoy!

Maggie

Ps - obviously don't mean taking same route - wrong direction! just visiting Oberalp Pass.

rockoyster
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Jun 21, 2017 - 9:39 PM

Thanks for sharing Alpenrose. Your reports are always so inspiring and the comparative winter/summer shots are great. I was having an off day on our recent Glacier Express trip. Didn't take many photos and now find it hard to remember much about the scenery. I do recall the Andermatt to Oberalppass being our favourite section. Your red lighthouse triggered a memory of wondering why there was a such a structure way up there.

rockoyster
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Jun 21, 2017 - 11:38 PM in reply to rockoyster

Reading your report led me to this en.m.wikipedia.org/wik i/Schöllenen_Gorge - fascinating.

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Jun 22, 2017 - 1:24 AM in reply to rockoyster

Hi rockoyster, thanks for your kind remarks!

>> I do recall the Andermatt to Oberalppass being our favourite section.

Yes, that is my favourite part too, especially when it is covered in snow.

>> Your red lighthouse triggered a memory of wondering why there was a such a structure way up there.

It's apparently the highest lighthouse in the world (no surprises there!), and was an initiative of the local tourist association about 7 years ago, about a month before my first trip through the Oberalppass.

It is a (scaled-down) replica of a lighthouse that used to stand at the mouth of the Rhein near Rotterdam. The reason they built a replica here is that the Oberalppass is not far from the source of the Rhein, which rises from a spring below the surface of the Lai da Tuma (also known as the Tomasee or Lake Toma).

As you may recall, the Glacier Express route follows the course of the Rhein - which at this point is called the Vorderrhein (Anterior Rhine) - for quite a bit of its journey. The train also crosses the Hinterrhein (Posterior Rhine) at Reichenau-Tamins, where the two rivers flow together to become the Rhine proper.

At one stage there was also a proposal to transport a ship, that used to ply the Rhine, up to the Oberalppass. It was going to travel up the river to Basel, then be taken apart and transported overland to the Oberalppass and put back together again. So far this plan has failed to come to fruition, apparently for logistical and financial reasons. I think we can be thankful for that! The lighthouse isn't too bad, and has a certain interesting symbolism, but a full-scale ship on the Oberalppass would be a monstrosity in my opinion!

Alpenrose

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Jun 22, 2017 - 1:45 AM in reply to rockoyster

>> Reading your report led me to this en.m.wikipedia.org/wik i/Schöllenen_Gorge - fascinating.

Yes, the history of the Schöllenen Gorge, and the legends associated with it is absolutely fascinating!

I had planned to walk there from Andermatt last year, but there is a lot of construction going on in that area at the moment. So it stays on my list for another trip!

There is information about the walk from Andermatt, and a short circular tour of the Schöllenen Gorge, here:

www.andermatt.ch/en/so mmer/wandern/highligt-hiking-trails/schoellenengorg e#skip

www.andermatt.ch/en/so mmer/wandern/highligt-hiking-trails/schoellenen-circular-trail#skip

Alpenrose

Last modified on Jun 22, 2017 - 1:50 AM by Removed user
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Jun 22, 2017 - 1:54 AM in reply to Arno

Hi Arno and Lucas - thanks for your comments!

Alpenrose

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Jun 22, 2017 - 2:18 AM in reply to maggiehorswell

>> What a lovely way to show those photos in pairs - really liked that.

Thanks Maggie, glad you liked them!

>> That's another trip we could do while in St. Moritz! ... obviously don't mean taking same route - wrong direction! just visiting Oberalp Pass.

Yes, I had always been curious about the Oberalppass, as I had gone across it so many times in the train, and wondered what it would be like to get out and walk around a bit.

Another nice place to get off the train is in the Rhein Gorge at Versam-Safien, where the station is quite close to the Rhein, and there is an easy 5-minute walk down a path to the river.

I have attached some photos I took there last year.

On the way back to Chur from the Oberalppass, if you feel like it and have enough time, it is fun to get off the train at Ilanz and get the PostBus to Chur via Laax and Flims. I did this last year on a whim because I had a long wait for the train, and really enjoyed it.

I mentioned it in my post of Jun 6, 2017 - 4:54 AM on the following page:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/5-days-starting-from-geneva-planning

>> Am beginning to think we need to emigrate - the list of what we want to do in Switzerland just gets longer even after all the visits we have been lucky enough to enjoy!

Me too! I would love to spend a whole year there at least!

Alpenrose

Last modified on Jun 22, 2017 - 2:22 AM by Removed user
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rockoyster
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Jun 22, 2017 - 3:12 AM in reply to Removed user

Hi Alpenrose,

A ship atop the Overalppass? No thanks.

Thanks for the Schöllenen links.

You photos from Versam-Safien make the Rhein Gorge look far more attractive than it did flashing by from the train. Next time.

Rorence
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Jun 22, 2017 - 5:42 AM

Teach us more in this field. After reading on here, we can learn more in this topic.

Arno
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Jun 22, 2017 - 5:31 PM in reply to Rorence

Welcome to MySwissAlps Rorence!

I'm not sure what you want to know, but opening a new thread (start here) is the best option unless your question is about Alpenrose's day trip.

Adelaidean
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Jun 24, 2017 - 1:04 AM

Alpenrose...another fantastic report.

I guess my trip in September is a bit 'beaten path' style, but have saved plenty of wonderful ideas for several 'follow on' trips now 😀

Your many excellent blogs really highlight how much there is to experience in the journey, whereas many travellers focus on the destination.

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Jun 24, 2017 - 3:23 AM in reply to Adelaidean

>> I guess my trip in September is a bit 'beaten path' style

Well, that makes sense, especially if this is your first trip to Switzerland. After all, the "beaten path" is beaten for a reason!

I didn't get off the beaten path until my 5th trip to Switzerland, at which point I had accumulated about 5 weeks in Switzerland over several years (as it was usually just one of several countries on my trip). And then I discovered MySwissAlps and realised how much more there was to do and see in Switzerland that the guide books just do not cover. So my 5th trip, which started out as 2 weeks in each of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, turned into a 7-week trip to Switzerland! During such a lengthy trip, I had plenty of opportunity to get off the beaten path without missing out on the more popular destinations as well.

>> but have saved plenty of wonderful ideas for several 'follow on' trips now 😀

Yes, it is that sort of place - you want to keep going back!

>> Your many excellent blogs really highlight how much there is to experience in the journey, whereas many travellers focus on the destination.

I must admit, I do enjoy the journey a lot, especially when the transport is excellent and the scenery captivating.

Alpenrose

Last modified on Jun 24, 2017 - 3:24 AM by Removed user

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