Grand Train Tour of Switzerland

That’s what it’s called. Grand, indeed. I can’t think of a better way to end our Covid-induced international travel drought. Mountains, lakes, trains, and some of the fattest cows I’ve ever seen.P1120922

Our trip started in Lugano, site of the “annual” Adventure Travel World Summit (the first in person since 2019).

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This is our hotel:

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This is the view from our balcony.

IMG_2387After four days of meetings and hanging out with friends I haven’t seen in three years, we left for the beginning of our 6 day Grand Train Tour.

The first leg, after a three hour bus ride from Lugano, was on the Bernina Express from Tirano, Italy to St. Moritz. This was one of the most scenic, if not the most scenic, train rides I have ever taken.

P1120835 P1120833 P1120830 P1120826St. Moritz is a well known skiing destination. Since it was before the ski season, and we don’t ski anyway, we were only in St. Moritz for one night, just long enough to check out the luxury stores selling items we can’t afford and have an excellent bowl of fresh pasta in the restaurant La Scarpetta while the entire album, Ray Charles at the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival played in the background. (Sorry, no photos of our meal. If you follow my blogs and articles you know I eat my meals, not take pictures of them).

From there it was a long train ride on the luxurious Glacier Express to Zermatt. Lots of leg room and white (actually beige) linen meal service. Zermatt is a mountaineering town, most famous for the Matterhorn. It was cloudy and misty the two days we were there, but I did manage a few shots of the Matterhorn at sunrise.

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From Zermatt we traveled to Montreux for one night. No skiing, no mountaineering, just gracious lakeside luxury. Montreux is home to the famous jazz festival, now mostly pop festival.

Despite the descent of the festival from its formerly majestic jazz heights, the town and the location can’t be beat. This was our favorite destination of our almost two weeks in Switzerland. These photos should show you why.

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And, my favorite beer of the trip.

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The last leg of our journey was on the Golden Pass Line, a classic train from another era.

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This train and the three that followed (we traveled on four train legs that day) passed through some of the most bucolic scenery of the trip (the following photos were shot through the windows of the moving trains, so it was a bit challenging to get the best shots).

IMG_2531 IMG_2522 IMG_2515 IMG_2514 IMG_2511 IMG_2508 IMG_2493 IMG_2491 IMG_2485Our last stop was Lucerne. This “gateway to central Switzerland, sited on Lake Lucerne, is embedded with an impressive mountainous panorama,” as described in our itinerary. The town itself is pretty cool.

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IMG_2538 IMG_2536 IMG_2535IMG_2641 IMG_2640 IMG_2632 IMG_2631Our plan for the full day we were there was to ride a gondola to the top of Mount Pilatus, but the weather was overcast, so we decided to take a 5 hour boat tour to the other end of the massive lake instead. I’m glad we did. Because of the weather the tour started out a bit gloomy (but I did manage a few great photos) but turned sparkling by the time we reached the turnaround point at the end of the lake at Fluelen.
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IMG_7156 IMG_7151The following map shows the entire route for our trip.

IMG_2622If you want to book this trip, contact the Switzerland Travel Center, our host for this trip. The hotels we stayed in:

  • Lugano — Hotel International au Lac
  • St. Moritz — Hotel Steffani
  • Zermatt — Hotel Julen
  • Montreux — Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic
  • Lucerne — Park Hotel Continental

 

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