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Trip report Grand Train Tour of Switzerland (2)


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Danielsan
Danielsan
310 posts
top member
Oct 10, 2018 - 3:47 AM

Hi Forum Folks, Here is part two of m trip to Switzerland,

Days 1 and 2: www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/part-1-of-triip-report#imAflaDW9mqS6v8 AAFcRTQ

Day 3: Up early again having a beautiful continental breakfast with both hot and cold food, at the Continental Park hotel just steps from the train station, I boarded the bus for the first leg of the Bernina Express.

The bus is boarded at the far end of the train station, (I guess it would be the north end). For this one does need a seat reservation, even with the STP. I believe it was 14 Francs for both legs of the journey, which, as I mentioned in day one, I was able to reserve and pay for at the rail station upon my arrival in the Zurich airport.

This part of the Bernina Express, by bus was very scenic as we drove along Lake Lugano and into Italy. After passing several small, lakeside villages with the fjord-like mountains surrounding us across the lake, we drove through several tunnels, and after a period of time through several field-like towns, we started our downhill descent through many ess-curves and switch-backs and the stunning views of Lake Como came into view. This was a thrill, as the bus navigated the twists and turns and the lake was below us until we arrived down alongside of it and it was just beautiful. As we traveled along the northern border of Lago di Como, it couldn’t have been a prettier ride.

After a while though, we passed the lake and then it was a fairly, not boring, but just not as scenic as we make our way through the flat lying areas. We did stop at a roadside café for about 15 minutes to stretch and a pit stop. After this part I did drift off for a nap and before long we arrived in Tirano, the quaint little Italian border village. I did not spend more than the hour or so lay-over here, but it did seem like a charming little mountain village with the train/bus stations and lots of tourist shops, cafés, and the like. I assume this was also a hub for those wanting to travel further into Italy, and points east. Since I was toting my large bag along with my go-everywhere nap-sack, I opted to just sit and have a beverage at one of the cafes, since the train was leaving in about one hour. Not any time to do any sight-seeing. And after purchasing some items in a souvenir stand, I boarded the train part of the Bernina Express.

One can take this leg to Chur, which is the end of that leg, or to Davos, along the way (with a switch along the way). I opted to take the train to St. Moritz, as that is where I chose to spend the night in the hopes of seeing Mt. Corvatsch in the morning.

The 14:06 departure for St. Moritz was right on time and we left Tirano behind for a beautiful ride and before long we were rounding the viaduct at Brusio, the iconic, picturesque, roundabout on the way to Lake Poschiavo. Fortunately for me, the train was not super crowded, as I was up and moving about, taking all kinds of pictures along the way. A few other folks did the same and it was a fun ride. Especially going through the lake-side itself and the town of Poschiavo. Then the ascent up and around the lake was incredible. Turning, twisting, turning again, the train made its way up the edges of both sides of the mountains, giving us many views of the valley down below. I just don’t believe one can see the scenery if driving through it. It was amazing. Then we made our way to the Bernina pass itself which of course, was beautiful. One thing I found very interesting on this part of my journey, especially since it happened in Poschiavo, and above In I believe the Bernina pass, that every once in a while the train would come to a stop. Seemingly for no reason at all. But only to find out that in certain areas outside of the bigger cities, especially in the mountains, there is only one set of tracks and that the trains have to wait for an oncoming train to pass on the same track. I found that very interesting.

After a while I drifted off to nap a bit along the way and was awakened by a fellow passenger when we arrived in St. Moritz. After getting my bearings and spotting my hotel, the Waldhaus am See, I set out for it, toting my bag along behind me and crossing the tracks and up the fairly good size hill. The entrance was a bit hard to find. (If anyone stays here, the entrance is on the left, once going up the hill.) I was up-graded to a room with a lake view, I guess because it was just after the tourist season, which I didn’t ask, or argue, and it was very rewarding. What a beautiful little town this is. After check-in I set out to walk around the town and did. I basically had the whole town to myself. Being after tourist season, it was also a Sunday and it was like a ghost town. Beautiful, but a ghost town. So, I had a slice of pizza at PizzaWay St. Moritz, one of the few places open to tide me over to dinner, had a couple beers with Stephanie from Romania at Bar Hemingways and made my way back to the lakefront where I took some pictures of the lake, my hotel, walked around a bit, and found a nice little café overlooking the lake. I was toying with the idea of dinner here over a beverage, and decided to make my way back to the hotel to eat there. Good choice. Good hotel. After a long day of traveling, I ate and called it an early night to get some rest for Mt. Corvatsch in the morning.

Day 4: Once again, up early for a fantastic hot and cold breakfast at the hotel. The kind folks at the hotel were nice enough to take people to the train station and to some certain mountain destinations as well. As luck (bad, in this case) would have it, the web-cam at the hotel showed the mountains to be in the clouds and that unfortunately squashed my plans to go to see Mt. Corvatsch. I toyed with the idea of Going to Filisur, and hiking down to the Landwasser Viaduct, which is on the way to Chur, but I had my big bag and that dis-allowed me to do that. So, I took a nap, and then boarded the train for a two hour ride on the public train line to Chur to catch the 1400 departure of the Glacier Express. I wish I could have hiked to the viaduct because I could barely get a picture of it after going over it, even sitting on the left side of the train. Oh well, as they say. I only got one shot of it, after seeing it in pictures for so long before going on my trip. Very pretty ride to Chur from St. Moritz, very uneventful, and after an hour lay-over at Chur I boarded the Glacier express.

For this leg of my journey, I up-graded to first class, the only part of my trip which I did so. The cost was, I believe, half of the difference between the first and second-class ticket price, with the STP. I’m glad I did because it was a very nice trip. A bit long, but a nice trip for sure. Six hours was long, after two hours from St. Moritz, but again, no regrets at all. There was service the whole time. Be it for drinks, food, the whole time someone was there to serve people and after several hours it was like family with friends being made with both passengers and staff. Very fun day, despite it being a very long one. As an aside, somewhere along one of my train rides, not sure if it was the Gotthard or the Bernina, I discovered/noticed that in almost every village we passed along the way, there was a church in nearly every one of them. Each one similar, but yet different and very beautiful in its own way. It made it somewhat challenging for me to want to take a picture of them. So, I did my best and had some fun with that along the way. It was also very much of the landscape of each village. After several hours, the train stopped high above the village of Andermatt for about ten minutes, for leg stretching and such, I believe it was in Natschen. Almost everywhere it seems there is some sort of transportation for skiers. This must be a big ski area around the Andermatt region, as there seemed to be a lot of construction going on amongst the scenery. About ten or fifteen minutes later the train made its way along and through the switch-backs of roads and down into the valley of Andermatt, where we also stopped for about fifteen minutes. From there it was very uneventful but still very scenic as we made our way down to Brig, then to Visp, where we essentially made a left turn and headed south for the final leg of the journey through the steep alpine valleys passing St. Niklaus, Randa, and then the last place for vehicles, Tasch, before arriving in Zermatt. (By the way, all these last villages also had their church in full view, just beautiful.)

I was getting very anxious for the last hour or so of the trip through the valleys as the cog railroad part of the trip slowed the progress. See, I wanted so badly to catch at least a glimpse of the Matterhorn upon arrival in Zermatt. We were due to arrive about 2010 or so and the sun set about 1900 hrs. or so. As luck (good, this time) would have it, it was still visible and being the first person off the train, I was like a kid in a candy store, just snapping away at the Matterhorn. The further from the station and closer to my hotel I got, the more it was in view until I had the whole mountain in my sights. 43 years in the making, I was here in 1975 as a young lad, and I could not believe I was staring at it. Simply stunning. I just set my bag down, (stopped rolling it), and stopped under the over-pass that is the Gornergrat cog railway and just took pictures. After several pictures, I headed up the hill where a couple was trying to take selfies. So, I offered take their picture since their arms were to short. Life was just perfect at this point, where I walked about five meters and there was my hotel. Hotel Welschen. There may be better hotels in Zermatt, but I don’t know because this was a gem. Will definitely stay there again when I go back. Matterhorn view, balcony, what more can one ask for?

I checked in, texted some photos from the balcony and settled in for a while, all the time staring out at the village (and their church) in such awe. What a beautiful night after a long journey by train. So out I went, walking almost the whole length of the village along the river and stopping in at Bar 55 in the Hotel Firefly. (No kidding). Where I had a wonderful evening talking with a local gal, until she closed at 0100. Then I went to Gee’s bar & Brasserie. I strolled in to my hotel at 0230, after walking the streets of Zermatt, and couldn’t have been a happier camper. I did not feel uncomfortable in any way walking the streets of Zermatt and for that matter anywhere I went on my trip.

More to follow: www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/grand-train-tour-of-switzerland-part-lll#itGl86DW9mqS6v8AAF cRTQ

Danielsan

Lucas
Lucas
10495 posts
top member
Oct 10, 2018 - 2:33 PM in reply to Danielsan

Thanks again for post Danielsan,

A great descriptive read!

Micalj
Micalj
80 posts
active member
Oct 11, 2018 - 3:41 AM

I hope I can remember to chronicle our upcoming trip as you have here. Great info. Thanks.

Danielsan
Danielsan
310 posts
top member
Oct 15, 2018 - 11:21 AM in reply to Micalj

Thank you Micalj. If your trip goes as smoothly as mine did, you should have no problem chronicling, or remembering your trip. Hope it goes well.

Danielsan

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