The Bernina Express – 16th May 2015

Another day, another panoramic train. This time we’re off on the Bernina Express which takes us over the Alps and into Italy. The line between here and Tirano is UNESCO world heritage listed, one of only three railways in the world to appear on the list.

image

Thankfully, the weather is much better today and so we’re hoping to get some great views.

After breakfast at the hotel we walked the short distance to the station and boarded the train.

The first section of the journey takes is through the Domieschg, a wide valley with lots of old castles and forts.

image

We’re climbing steadily and despite our highest point today being higher than yesterday, the train does not use any cogs.

We’re Travelling through the Albula valley and shortly after leaving Tiefencastle we went across the Landwasser viaduct, over 60m high and whose exit leads straight into a tunnel in a sheer cliff face.

image

After Filisur, we began an agent from about 1080m to over 1823m.

In order to make the climb, the railway does a series of loops inside tunnels to s allow it to gradually gain height.

We continued to climb out of Pontresina and one again were treated to some magnificent views.

image

image

image

The photos don’t really do it justice. 

This is the top of the Bernina Pass at 2253m.

image

We stopped at Alp Grum for 20 minutes for a break and it gave an opportunity to get off the train and get some photos!

image

image

image

The final section of the outward trip sees us drop from 2100m to just 429m in Tirano.

image

Finally, before we arrived at Tirano, we went over the circular Brusio viaduct…

image

image

We arrived on time in Tirano, Italy and had a wander around the old town before just having time for some lunch.  We then boarded the train again for the return journey.  This time we were in the rest carriage which, apart from having a window to the rest, also had a couple of windows which could open meaning a chance for stone photos without reflections.  Ed took full advantage!

We arrived back in Chur, once again on time, and headed back to the hotel for a shower before heading or for a pizza at a local Italian! 

Home tomorrow… 😦

Zermatt to Chur – The Glacier Express – 15th May 2015

Sadly, when we woke up, it was raining heavily and the most sat low on the valley with the Matterhorn completely obscured.  Still, today is the day that we are going on the Glacier Express!  We’re not taking the whole route as we’re staying for two nights in Chur, but we’ll cover the remainder of the route when we take the Bernina Express tomorrow! 

After a very good continental breakfast, the hotel took us to the station in their electric taxi (no cars allowed in Zermatt) and we boarded the train.

image

image

The first section of the journey, to Visp, retraces the route that we took yesterday, down the valley.

The section from Visp to Brig ran through a valley alongside the normal gauge Simplon railway. Beyond Brig we should have been able to see the Jungfrau from the other side, but alas the weather did not improve!

image

However, there were some fantastic views of fast flowing rivers.

The next brief stop was Oberwald and since Brig the staff have laid the table ready for our lunch!  We also took the opportunity to drown or sorrows for the rain!

image

image

Shortly after leaving Oberwald we entered the 9 mile long Furka tunnel which allows the glacier express to operate all year round. What we didn’t expect was that when we emerged the views would be so different:

image

The rain had turned to snow and there were some audible gasps (from other passengers). As we were served lunch we pulled into Andermatt with the snow falling heavily.

image

We soon arrived at the highest point if the journey, the Oberalppass (2033m) and then descended steeply for the next 20 km until we arrived at Disentis  at about 1000m, during which time be finished our meal. As we descended, the snow turned to sleet and by the time we arrived at Disentis, there was only a light covering of snow on the ground.

image

image

The last stretch for us took us through a  steep sided gorge with more spectacular views, known as the Switzerland grand canyon.  We soon arrived into Chur, Switzerland’s oldest city OK time at about 2.30. Here we left the train whilst it carried on to St Moritz. We will do that section on the Bernina express tomorrow.

We found our hotel just a short walk from the station and having checked in we set out to explore the city. Thankfully it had stopped raining, although it was still cloudy, and we were able to see the cathedral and old town. It’s a pretty city, quite compact, and easy to walk around in an afternoon.

After a quick drink to avoid a shower we headed back to the hotel for a shower before heading out for food. We ended up in a Swiss Mexican place where, unusually, no one spoke much English and there was no menu translation… Quite refreshing really and there were no menu choice disasters! 

Interlaken to Zermatt and the Gronergatbahn

After a continental breakfast we set off for the train station to catch our train to Zermatt. The first sorry section was on a train heading for Berlin, although we only took the first stop to Spiez. 

image

At Spiez we changed trains to an intercity to Visp. This section invited the Lotschenberg tunnel, over 9 miles long.

At Visp we changed to the final train to Zermatt. This local train also has cogs as there are done fairly steep climbs during this stretch of the journey. The views on this section were stunning with steep valleys in either side, fast flowing rivers and waterfalls.

image

image

We arrived at Zermatt and eventually found our hotel; it wasn’t that far but we didn’t find it first time!  The view from the hotel balcony is amazing, apart from the crane. The silhouette of the Matterhorn is unmistakable!

image

We had a quick drink:

image

…before heading up on our next trip, up the cog railway of the Gonergrhat, which goes from Zermatt at 1000m to over 3000m, all the whole giving great views of the Matterhorn and surrounding peaks. From the top of the gonergrhat you can see 29 peaks over 4000m.

The weather was, once again, fantastic. It wasn’t as cold as yesterday, although we were both glass of or coats as it was only just above zero degrees!

image

image

image

image

Having had a quick snack, and Ed taking a million more photos, we headed back down.

Once back at Zermatt we wandered around the town and visited the Matterhorn/Zermatt museum which included the story or the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865 by Edward Whymper. 

We then tried to find out way back to our hotel using the lift in the cliff, without success. (It turns out that we were trying to use the wrong lift!) After a quick freshen up before having dinner for in the town.

Jungfraujoch – 13th May 2015

Another early start for our trip to Jungfraujoch, the highest station in Europe.

We set of from Interlaken at 8.30 to catch the train to Grindelwald. This took about half an hour and was partly fine using a cog in the centre of the tracks as the journey took us from about 600m to just over 1000m. Here we changed to a different train to carry is up to the Klein schagg at about 2000m.

image

This section was all using a cog railway and the train climbed steeply to the next station.

image

image

The views were spectacular, but the best was yet to come.

At this stain we boarded the Jungfrau to the summit at over 3400m, the highest station in Europe. The train climbed even more steeply and soon entered a 4 mile long tunnel through the Eiger mountain.

There were 2 stops in the tunnel as the engineers had carved out viewing stations giving more amazing views.

image

image

The final short stretch took us all the way up to junfraujoch.

At the top, we followed the week defined tour and visited the viewing platforms:

image

image

image

image

… And other ‘attractions’ such as the ice tunnel into a glacier and the Lindt chocolate experience. We we were glad we took jumpers as the temperature at the top was just 2 degrees and very windy!

We had a break from setting the views for a quick beer and we wrote some postcards with Ed using it as an opportunity to send some birthday thank you cards!

image

We spent almost three hours at the top and finished with a delicious rosti lunch in the restaurant with amazing views before returning on the downward train.

When we got to kleine sheigg we descended his Wengen rather than Grindelwald and saw some spectacular waterfalls.

When we got back to Interlaken we walked through the town with Ed taking photographs!  After a freshen up we headed out for some drinks and food before retiring for the night.

image

The Chocolate Train – 11th May 2015

We had an early start and were at Lausanne train station for 7.30.  The 20 minute train journey to Montreux took in some beautiful scenery overlooking Lake Geneva. We arrived in good time and found the platform that the Chocolate Train was on.

image

image

We boarded an old carriage which had been refitted and had intricate woodwork decorating it.

The train left on time and immediately began climbing out of Montreux, weaving between buildings and roads.  This first section of the trip took about 30 minutes including a couple of brief stops to let other trains pass in the other direction as the track was a single line. The views from the train were breathtaking.

The train then headed off into the mountain valley and we were served a croissant and coffee. After a long tunnel journey we emerged into a lush green valley and lost some of the height we had gained.

Soon we arrived at Montebecon where the train reversed direction to take another line. This next section includes a short section where the train was actually on the road!  After 30 minutes we arrived at Broc and had a short walk to the Cailler chocolate factory. The factory tour was very interesting and enter in some chocolate tasting.

image

image

The weather was really hot and after the chocolate tour a bus took us to the mediaeval village of Gruyères. Here we wanted the streets and had a drink in a hotel with magnificent views.

image

image

Next we walked up to the castle and used our Swiss pass to visit it. The castle dates from around the 12th century.

After a lunch of raclet (for Ed) we headed back to the bus for a quick transfer to the cheese factory. Another type later and we were back on the train for the return to Montreux.

image

On arrival we caught a train back to Lausanne but here the Swiss railway let us down! We had picked up a local service which stopped at all stations, but the train stopped the stations short of Lausanne without any warning leaving more than 100 people stranded and a mini bus to do a transfer!

We decided to retrace our steps and went back three stations to Vevey, home of Nestlé, where we could catch an intercity train.

We eventually arrived back at Lausanne and after a short we headed our for some food and a couple of drinks. Next stop tomorrow Interlaken!

Zurich to Lausanne

We had a leisurely start to the day before checking out and catching the trolley bus into the centre. We left our luggage in the station and wandered into Zurich.

Zurich is a pretty city, and quite compact. We walked down side of the Limmat and stopped in a riverside cafe for a light breakfast.

Were spent much is the remainder of the morning wandering and taking in the sights including Bahnhofstrasse (exclusive shopping area) and the Zurich see (lake).

We had a drink in a restaurant/bar overlooking the river where a brass band was playing and then went up the towers of the Grossmunster.

image

image

image

image

Whilst it is a pretty city, there isn’t a great lot to see if you re not into art galleries. Thus we caught the 2.30 train to Lausanne.  The train isn’t the fastest, but goes through some beautiful scenery.

We arrived on time at Lausanne and quickly found our hotel.  Lausanne is a hilly city and we caught the metro up to the main area, where there was a carnival going on. After a quick drink then short we headed out to a local restaurant for food. I ended up with a trio of tartare!  An early night awaited as tomorrow is and early start to go on the chocolate train! 

London to Zurich – 9th May 2015

We arrived at Heathrow in good time, although there was a bit of a detour as the old Severn bridge was closed. Dropped the car off and headed to check in.

After security we went straight to sample the British airways longue. We spent the next couple of hours sampling the good and drink on offer before having priority boarding and settling in. Whilst the seats don’t have more legroom, the middle seat is free and so we have plenty of room.

The dirty flight to Zurich included a meal and drink and after we landed we headed to it hotel by train and taxi.

After checking in, we headed out for a drink and to orientate ourselves before heading back to the hotel for a cheese and meat platter and an early night. The hotel room is unusual with a raised level which has a settee and TV. The bathroom is semi open although thankfully the toilet and short are enclosed. However there are some nice touches like the apples and the home made biscuits.

No photos today… Hope to have some tomorrow!

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑