Cutting the cheese...on the Swiss Rail

Trip Start Apr 01, 2012
Trip End Aug 31, 2013

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Flag of Switzerland  , Zürich,
Friday, May 25, 2012

For map sake this entry really should be broken up into each city but for us visiting Switzerland, it was really a series of train travels so Ive grouped the experience into one. Besides, Im really behind on blogging and its just easier this way. Loads of pictures and less writing.

We got a great two for one, any four days within a month, rail pass. Since we thought it was so fantastic, we asked Steves parents to join us. They were planning on taking a cruise around the UK so they attached this trip to their agenda. It had only been a month since we last saw them but it actually seemed much longer and it was great to catch up.

Heres a quick breakdown of how we maximized our "special" train journeys:
We met in Geneva. Made our way to Lausanne and then Montreaux. Jumped on the Golden Pass and headed to Interlaken. In Lausanne we found a market with a lovely English speaking woman who hooked us up with samples of cheeses and we bought wine for our large window train journey. When we arrived in Interlaken, the guy in the info booth was really informative and we ran to catch the last train for a boat ride arcross the Brienzersee Lake (which was included in our rail pass). 

On a popular American morning talk show called "Today," one week out of the year a host by the name, Matt Lauer, goes around the world. Each day is a surprise destination and you are suppose to try and guess it. Well this year we were blown away with the Jungfrau trip and wanted to see it ourselves. The journey is not included in our rail pass but we received fifty percent off the journey. Its still around 137 euro per head but its one of those once in a lifetime kind of places. We had clear views of the mountain top from our accommadation the day before. We took the Lautterburn way up with stops for pictures of the waterfalls and views of the farm villages. The very last bit was a cogwheel carved into a mountain. Then we walked around and up some stairs to the view. The moment where we would be in awe. I wondered why they installed glazed glass for the windows but I could see they wanted to hold the suspense for the final unvailing. WRONG. We were surrounding in clouds, oh and it was SNOWING.

No problem. We were going to wait it out and check out the Ice Palace where there were ice sculptures, a large Swiss village snow globe and other carvings, as well as gigantic panoramic screens with what the views should look like. We waited three hours, roaming around and having brought our picnic. (We hardly ate out in Switzerland. Not because we couldnt afford it but we found the prices insulting and ridiculous. So expensive and we used to live in the heart of Tokyo. We shopped at Coop and Migros but even grocery stores were expensive.) We went back out at the Sphinx and all of a sudden it made sense as to why they have indoor, large screen panoramic views on display. No views but we just embraced the elements. It was freezing and two guys were crazy enough to take off their shirts for pictures. The clouds did shift slightly so we could see two feet or so in front of us. We snapped some pictures and headed back down with a stop in Grindlewald. It was fun but not worth the money.

We stayed in Interlaken for three nights. One of the non-train highlights of the trip was when we rented bikes. We traveled around the canals, saw both lakes and it helped that our rail pass even got us discounts on the rentals. We got up and close with the cows and their huge necklace bells. We saw paragliders and secretively wished wed have spent the money on that instead of the Jungfrau trip. Next time.

The following day, we started in Zermatt. Unfortunately, another cloudy day for the moutains in the early morning and we couldnt see Matterhorn. Steve was really bummed. For the rest of the trip, we joked around pointing at all the moutain tops and claiming it was MH. From Zermatt we hopped on the Glacier Express all the way to St Moritz. That was such a long journey, like 7 hours. Steve and I were squirming in our seats and going out of our minds. The views were great and we had another nice picnic but I wouldnt recommend doing the entire trip. Break it up or into pieces. Steve and I needed to walk so we strolled down to a yummy pizza restaurant in St Moritz that night.

From St Moritz we got on the Bernina Express train. My personal favorite. The scenery has everything you want: snow capped mountains, glacier, lakes, rolling hills, quaint country side and the best is that its about three hours long. The train stops in Triano, Italy where you can find Italian cuisine. It wasnt the best Ive had nor did the town boast about any great sites. We only had about an hour there anyways before we jumped on the Bernina Express bus through the countryside of northern Italy. The bus ride is really kind of boring except at the very end. The roads narrow to a point that its a bit crazy that a bus can drive on it let alone with on coming traffic. Whoever was dozing off was now wide eyed and sweating in their palms. The driver must get paid buco dinero.
When we finally made it back to Switzerlands Lugano and we checked in. We were pleased to be upgraded to a private room. The beds were a bit odd though. Steve and I were sharing a room with five single beds all aligned next to each other, wall to wall, with a skylight. Sweet.

The following day was our busiest. We couldnt do the specific William Tell Express bc the timing didnt work out for all that we had planned so we did the route on a normal train and headed into Lucerne. Its a must. Then we took a boat to Weggis where we ran up a hill, with all our luggage...poor catch a cabble car up to the top of Rigi Kulm. Great views for a bit then the clouds came in. No surprise but great while the views lasted. We didnt have much time anyways as we had to get to Zurich in the same evening.

We were totally hooked up in Zurich too. We had a double suite with a kitchen. Much nicer than the rooms I thought we were going to have. The following day was our last day together. Steves parents treated us to some fondue. You have to have fodue in Switzerland, even if its not winter. Then Steves parents rushed off to the airport and we started our journey into Germany.

I really loved Lugano, Lucerne and Zurich. No its not bc we recieve free ice cream in Lucerne AND Zurich. They had a lot going on in a centralized areas, the cobble stone streets are always a hit, and they are all along bodies of water. However the cost of things does put a pin in the balloon. There are a lot of other beautiful neighboring countries where our money could go further.
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