The Glacier Express

Trip Start Jun 27, 2009
Trip End Jul 13, 2009

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Flag of Switzerland  , Swiss Alps,
Saturday, July 4, 2009

We checked out of our hotel in St. Moritz and went to the train station to board The Glacier Express. It is the slowest express train in the world –it only averages 25 miles per hour. Had we taken the train all the way back to Zermatt, we would have passed over 291 bridges and through 91 tunnels. We only rode it for 4 hours and passed through plenty of tunnels and over many bridges. The Swiss made spiral tunnels to help overcome some of the challenges of the altitude. These spiral tunnels would have us entering in one direction, only to exit going the opposite direction! The scenery was spectacular! There were cows on the hillside, waterfalls, raging rivers, gorges and trees. There were tiny villages and rolling hills. A few of the highlights were:  1) Passing over the Landwasser Viaduct at kilometer 63, between Chur and St. Moritz. This is a world famous piece of railway. It is 65 meters high and follows a curve with a radius of 100 meters. It is possible to take a picture while crossing it, but it is being repaired and was covered with scaffolding. I took a picture of it in the brochure instead; 2) seeing the headwaters of the Rhine River, and 3) Just seeing the different landscapes that we passed. We ate a picnic lunch on board and debarked at Andermatt. Andermatt is the country's last line of defense. Here at a military station, 1000 men can live for 1 year.

As we left Andermatt, we listened to the William Tell Overture, as we were entering Uri Canton, or William Tell country. Here in 1307, as the story goes, Tell refused to bow to the hat of Gessler and was forced to shoot an apple off his son’s head. Tell later killed Gessler and freed his people from his tyranny.

We passed over the Susten Pass and stopped to look at the Stein glacier before heading down into the valley. We passed the town of Meiringen that is famous for two things: the first is Meringue and the second is Sherlock Holmes’ story, The Final Solution.  Those of you who have read Holmes will recognize the story in which Doyle killed off Holmes in a death match with Professor Moriarity at Reichenbach Falls.

We actually had to deal with rain at this point, but really couldn’t complain, as we hadn't experienced any except for brief evening thunderstorms a couple of times. We arrived in Grindenwald just before dinner and got our first look at one of the three mountains in that area, the Eiger. Since it was July 4th, the hotel gave us a little reception before dinner and had hung an American flag in the lobby to great us.

Pictures soon. The words on the computer are all in German and I am having trouble figuring out what is what.
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