A stop over to catch the Glacier Express

Trip Start Sep 09, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Switzerland  , Swiss Alps,
Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday, May 30th, 2009 - Glacier Express

Well, today is the day. We are off on the Glacier Express. We are going all the way to Zermatt so we can see the Matterhorn. This train advertises itself as the slowest express train in the world. We were to soon realize that sometimes there is truth in advertising.

We have breakfast at the hotel, included with the room. Breakfast in Europe is quite different than in the US. It is sort of a combination breakfast and lunch. I think when I get back home I will throw a "European Breakfast" one weekend to share with you all. Anyone want to come?

After breakfast Judy wanted to mail a package home, so we found the post office. We had to walk there once to find it and get a shipping box. Then we walked there again to take the package to actually mail it. It ended up being over the standard shipping weight, so she had to fill out customs forms but found success in the end. Now Judy had less stuff in her suitcase and more room for more purchases.

We are all packed up and leave the room and Judy goes first in the elevator. First Judy, then the suitcase. Next it is my turn, and the elevator goes up to floor 5, then down past me. Then I hear it moving about a couple floors down. Then it goes past me again. Now about 10 minutes have passed and it finally stops for me.

We walk the 500 feet to the train station and are immediately confused. The ticket agent told us platform 11 the night before, but we saw on the board it was now platform 10. Well, after we check about 4 more boards and asked 2 people, we finally believed the location had really been changed. We drug our 50 pounds of stuff packed into 30 pound suitcases up the through the tunnel and up the ramp to platform 10. We were really early and the train that needed to pull out so ours could come in was having difficulty. They kept checking the wheels with really high tech tools - a stick that they would beat on the wheels with. They kept beating on the wheels for about 20 minutes. I was thinking I was glad not to be on that train, and also hoping they could find the real set of tools if something was wrong on ours.

Finally the train pulled out allowing ours to pull in. Yes, I guess the 4 signs and 2 people were correct after all, we were in the right place. We were traveling in the first class cabin which we later found out was really not needed. The entire train goes the same route! Can you believe it? How amazing! More importantly, the train cars are fairly similar. So, what does the extra buy? There are just fewer people in the car, which actually is nice. The bottom line though is don't bother to reserve first class.

We head out from Chur at 12:13. The schedule has us arriving in Zermatt at 6:00 pm. The time goes by quickly because there is so much to look at, or in my case... not look at. Being afraid of heights, I tried to never look down. It wasn't difficult because the mountains and villages were fantastic. As we traveled the villages and town became more quaint and typical Swiss with chalets and small churches and fields of grazing cows and sheep. I expected Heidi or the Sound of Music family to come running down a steep slope at any moment. There was still a lot of snow on the mountains, but hundreds of waterfalls were everywhere due to melting snow.

We were fed dinner on the train and it was pretty good and of course the atmosphere could not be beat! We had to change engines in Disantis to switch to a cog wheel train. Of course, I got out so I could watch and take a movie. Pictures will follow.

Back on the train we continue. The Alps are absolutely grand. As we continued up in altitude, we actually got very close, about a dozen yards to the snow line. However, the snow was melting and made hundreds of waterfalls that fed into a small river the length of the mountain range. It rained the last hour or so. When we got to Zermatt it was very cloudy and rainy and there was no Matterhorn to be seen! Drat.

The station has this really, really neat electric map. You find your hotel on the list and enter its number on the keypad. The board which is a map lights up and highlights and enlarges the path to your hotel. So, we see the hotel is only about 2 blocks away and we walked. Umbrellas, hats, suitcases and backpacks...what a sorry sight we were. We find the hotel, register and get to our room. It had an elevator a bit bigger than the one at the prior hotel.

The building is old and traditional Swiss. It has beams and wood paneling and slate floors. Our room is great with antique furnishings and a balcony. The balcony faces the Matterhorn, but it is so dark and cloudy you couldn't see a trace of it.

We walked back into town but turned back when it was raining too hard and besides that, the stores were closed. We did see a train arrive and it was just sort of like in the old movies. The train pulls in and dozens of people get off. Each person has a look of amazement in their eyes. Carriages and itty bitty taxis are waiting to take people to their hotels. There is even music playing. We needed to turn in early so we could get up early so we could leave early to get to Geneva early. This is entirely too many uses of the word early for someone on vacation!
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