Showing posts with label Locarno. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Locarno. Show all posts

Glacier Express - 20th June


Today we got up very early to take a quick trip of city as we did wanted to go back to snow clad beauty of Switzerland instead of its Mediterranean lake shores. But before having a heavy breakfast, we took a promenade in the park along lake shore where there are lots of open sculptors from Dada movement. After we took funicular ride to Madonna del Sasso.

We were determined to take glacier express from Andermatt to St.Moritz today. So, by 9.00 we reached station; Santanu saw a BBC program about Wilhelm Express on TV and was eager to board the same from Locarno till it connects Glacier Express. But due to train schedules we had to take an inter-regional train from Locarno to Goschenen via Bellinzona. Our compartment was vacant with two of us only. That left us to hop from one side to another in order to take photos as the train made turns to gain altitude. Being a standard train the chief advantage is the windows generally can be opened, for cool air and unobstructed views and take picture – with no ghost image.

On reaching Goschenen we immediately boarded another train to Andermatt where we spent an hour taking photos. Swiss trains are like Swiss watches never late-always on time so was Glacier Express


This train actually starts from St.Moritz to Zermatt or vice versa which is of 7 1/2 hr. journey across 291 bridges, through 91 tunnels and across the Oberalp Pass at 2033 m altitude. It’s really incredible journey via beautiful landscapes with valleys, glistening mountains & splendid greenery. It’s a train with huge wrap-around windows, allowing you to see through part of the ceiling no wonder why visitor do not complain spending bucks. You never know how alpine panoramas hits right in the face unless you experience it. But, the windows in the panoramic cars generally can't be opened, means photographs usually come with a glare.

As soon as we boarded the train, memories from Bollywood movies got refreshed. As there are umpteen of songs featured on this train. Unfortunately, we did not have window seats. And as it was mid-day lots of people were having their lunch at their seat. The dining car was next compartment to ours; we spent a good time there. Glacier express is a very touristy train as people from every corner of the world try to taste Swiss Alpine beauty. We had good conversation with our co-passengers who were Americans staying at Saudi Arabia.

On reaching St.Moritz we had a nice meal freshly prepared at Railway restaurant. As staying in the classic alpine resort was out of our budget so it was more economical to board a train for final destination to Zurich via Chur.

The train back from St-Moritz was a normal one which was good as that allowed us to take pictures with out glare. The journey from Chur to Zurich was also very scenic as the train runs along two lakes - Lake Walen and Lake Zurich.

Rescued - 19th June

By now, seeing the time I was discussing about hitch hiking to the next big town which was ruled out by Santanu as it seems not safe. Even I was suggesting him how about getting into a car of people who does not look that young and suddenly one car stopped and they asked if we need any lift… looking at their face we did not take a second to decide and say “YES” in unison (which came out as if instinct) with big smiling face. They really looked apostil to us. I & Santanu got squeezed at back of the small car along with our stuffs as the small trunk was already filled up.


See…my wish really came out true….taking lift from nice people with grey hairs. They were really so gentle which I can’t express by my words. The lady (Heidi) was more loquacious than her husband. They knew about India well and been there few times so we had lot to talk about. It really made it a more of a wonderful trip. But their first question was “what two Indians are doing at that bus station?” As per initial plan we were supposed to go to the next town on the road Domodossola in Italy and continue from there to Locarno. But soon we came to know that they are also going to Locarno so all the way to Locarno we had nice lively conversation.

With few minutes halt at Vigezzo where we had coffee –break at nearby bistro. The main attraction of the village is the church of “Santuario della Madonna del Sangue”. The original church was build around 14th century but then it was expanded later on. Its structure is more like Byzantine one then the gothic which are more common in this part of Europe.


On reaching at Locarno they were so much worried for us that they even helped us in looking for a hotel by asking there local friends & dropped us to the same. Really so kind of them to take care of us - a great Swiss hospitality and welcome to strangers.

Post Bus - 19th June

Till we are not sure what would be our next destination for today. The nearest attraction is Montreaux, but that being so close to Lausanne we were discussing to keep it for last day. After taking a hearty breakfast we reached railway station. We asked at the information desk about the Swiss travel pass and Post Bus.
Traveling with yellow Swiss post bus system is really breath taking experience as they connect any place in Switzerland which can’t be reached by train. As we had some print out from web sites but none were close to Lausanne. One of the routes that attracted our attention was Napoleon route from Saas Fee to Locarno. But the special tourist post bus operates once a day most of the time and you need to make reservation for the same.

After buying Swiss Flexi Pass from the Railway station, boarded a train to Visp. The train journey to Visp was nice as it gave the taste of Alps and its beautiful mountain ranges. The bus trip from Visp to Saas Fee was magnificent. We initially wanted to get the Glacier express today itself but being a special train we could not connect the same. So we spent only 20 minutes at Saas Fee also called pearl of Alps. Saas Fee is a very beautiful car-free resort nestling at foot of glaciers One local young gentleman invited us to little Himalaya of Europe while getting down from the bus. There we had our ‘take away’ lunch.


On our way back we continued till Brig by the same bus. From Brig we had two choices – either by a train or bus. Train goes to our next destination in the south of Switzerland via long tunnel while bus takes a longer route through Simplon Pass to some remote village of Italy from where we were to take a train after 2 hours to our today’s destination (Locarno).

Well, Santanu insisted on later uncertain one as we would have reached Locarno at 21:30 and we had no hotel booked for that night. No doubt the journey along this pass was breathtaking almost 2005m above sea level. As soon as we reached border station we were only 2 passengers left from the bus and we were transferred to a mini van where we had only one co-passenger. It was quite assuring that someone is going with us as it was already 5:30 PM quite late for a place in absolute no-where. We were told by our co-passenger in broken English and Italian that there will be a bus in next 5 minutes, but that 5 become 25 and we three are waiting for bus. There is no posted time table of the same. We started to realize that we were in Italy from the very systematic and punctual Switzerland. It was quandary that we were in. The last part of today’s journey to Locarno was a very memorable one as we got rescued by two gentle Swiss.

In short, trip via road across the most beautiful Alpine passes with spectacular views over the snow covered mountains, through narrow winding valleys, lakes and picturesque villages is something amazing.