„Driving the train doesn’t set its course. The real job is laying the track.“
Sometimes you don’t have to travel far to witness beauty. That is especially true if you live in Switzerland, the country has mindbogglingly fantastic scenery. And there is probably no better way to enjoy as much landscape as you can by taking a ride with the Glacier Express, the slowest express train in the world.
Our drive took us from Zermatt to St. Moritz. 8 hours of sheer endless mountains, rivers, small and large villages and certainly a lot of snow. Because the train starts early, you typically take a train to Zermatt the day before. It is one of the major tourist destinations of Switzerland, for good reasons, because the view to the Matterhorn is incredible. Offering the typical Swiss food, most restaurants are filled with laughter and conversations in many different languages and most people taste the famous cheese fondue. The American couple next to our table certainly was struggling a little with it and we gave some recommendations and explained some basic rules, especially what happens if you loose your bread in the molten cheese. Still for many people, the amount of cheese really is a bit much, although it is delicious.
Before dinner, we walked a little around the town enjoying the sun going down. Quite to our amazement, the sun really started to emit some fantastic light and after we found a scenic spot, our cameras were working heavily. Although we felt a tiny bit like oldsters, most people used their smartphones and showed close to zero patience, not waiting for that one perfect moment. This picture was shot just a few seconds or minutes before that moment, time does not matter any more watching beauty unravel. Because I captured that one moment with a upright shot, I attached it to the introduction post for this travelogue. It looks more like a painting, but is only very slightly and carefully post processed, the view really looked like that and made you feel like being part of nature’s art.
The train ride is comfortable, nice food is offered and people are friendly. But best of all, we have been incredibly luck with the weather. It snowed heavily the days before, but this day was all sunshine. Marvelous for taking a tour like this.
It was actually quite an incredible amount of snow.
It took some time to get used to taking pictures through the window glass. The reflections are hard to control, we later learned that there is some rubber lens hoods that help you get rid of them.
So from the hundreds of pictures that we took during the first hours, many were quite unusable. It was also difficult because with the strong sun especially in it’s zenith, the shadows were brutally hard.
We also found that the exits of the wagon had some small windows that opened sufficiently for taking pictures. Not very comfortable, but great for avoiding the glass.
So quite often, when we saw something interesting, we sprinted to those windows and took pictures, just to return afterwards. I imagined that trip to be rather quiet with a lot of sitting around but it turned out to be quite good exercise.
It also gave us the opportunity to take pictures of the train itself.
With the landscape changing always a tiny bit, the tour certainly wasn’t boring.
I especially liked those part where the train was going next to some smaller or larger rivers.
I must confess, it felt strange to me that a train ride is a source of enjoyment, I always considered it as transportation only. And having witnessed some trains from other countries, I was very positively surprised by this train, although I was already impressed by Swiss public transport which is clean, (mostly) on time and quite comfortable.
The day was just perfect. Maybe we try the Bernina Express the next time.
A day without phone calls, no emails, with some light reading and just looking out of the window for a few hours. The day really helped me winding down quite a bit.
The landscape really radiates serenity.
The evening we had in St. Moritz was quite nice as well, although we found it difficult to find a nice restaurant, our choice gave us the impression that they were somehow part of the famousness of the town and therefor it wasn’t really necessary that they had to offer acceptable service. Unfortunately the one hotel that I knew from another trip was closed, service and food was excellent at that place.
Counting the two days it took to get to Zermatt and back home and the one day spend in the train, it was three very enjoyable days really with a lot of beautiful landscape.