What is it about scenic routes that makes the charm of train travel increase exponentially? While I ran out of patience for long (or even short, admittedly) train journeys quite a few years ago, I still can’t resist the call of scenic trains. Which is why I agreed to a press trip to Switzerland last year – for a chance to travel on The Glacier Express, even if only for a part of the way.
We got on at Chur – believed to be the oldest inhabited town in Switzerland – late in the morning, and settled down near the huge picture windows for the ride to Zermatt.
Now, these two images (down) are of the food – very important for vegetarian travellers like me. Given that these trains are a big draw for Indian tourists, the menu features an Indian option. Personally, I would have been much happier with a choice of international food, like salads and pasta, but no complaints about the the rice and curry I got as part of my lunch.
The first part of the ride was to Andermatt, a peaceful journey with classic Swiss summer landscapes – think yellow flowers dotting green hillsides. Although there was some snow on the tops of the higher mountains, this stretch was by and large more colourful than what followed.
Andermatt is where the Oberalp Pass begins, and from there on, the scenery turned dramatic.
The Glacier Express wound its way upwards to an altitude of 2034 m (6673 feet), the highest point of this journey. This was easily the most spectacular part of the entire journey, as we chugged along semi-frozen lakes, with their aquamarine waters shimmering in the mild Swiss sunlight.
And then we carried on to Brig, in the Upper Rhone Valley, the route once again a mix of white-grey snow and green-yellow flowers.
Finally, well over five hours after we boarded at Chur, we pulled up at Zermatt, the base town to explore the Matterhorn experience. And what a fabulous ride it turned out to be, surpassing all expectations.