A Travellerspoint blog

Back to Zurich via Chur

Day24 Sat 12th May

Very flash breakfast in the hotel in St Moritz then driven to the train station to board our next 1st class train. St Moritz was a fleeting visit really getting there late and leaving early the next day but the journey to it was so beautiful and it is a lovely picturesque place it was definitely worht travelling all that way. It was completely surrounded by snow covered mountains and the lake which St Moritz sits beside is stunning. Still plenty of snow all around there although not in the little town itself though.
We headed to Chur first as it looked very interesting in the Lonely Planet Guide. It was actually the cheapest place we found in Switzerland which is apparently, the most expensive european country, even more so than Sweden so we were told. Chur had plenty of quaint little shopes in little narrow streets, old buildings and being Saturday, many families in town enjoying time together. Chur had a really lovely feel to it. All these little Swiss towns have this and they are all so different but that was also the case in Italy too of course. We enjoyed a fairly reasonably priced lunch before getting back on the train ( a double decker train this time) to Zurich. We rode upstairs in the first class carriage and it is amazing how much more you see of course. When we arrived back at Zurich station, the weather was similar to our first day there. Cold and wet only 13 degrees. We transferred trains and headed straight to the airport where our hotel was actually inside the airport making easy exit the next morning for Paris. Also a very lovely hotel where the huge window overlooked the runway. Double glazing made for a very quiet room with a great view of just how many planes wait in queues before taxiing off one after the other to all parts of the world from Zurich. For the first time since leaving NZ, we had tea and coffee in our room so that was sheer bliss. We had really missed that little treat that is the norm in NZ accommodation and Australia as well. We dropped our bags and got on the train again and headed in for our last look at Zurich this time without our wonderful guide, Barbara. Although is was cold and wet, we had a second trip by boat up the river that flows through Zurich and out onto the lake there also. We had dinner in a nice little "pub" lie place but probably, we decided, a less salubrious little street where many young loud drunks scantily clad, tottered up the street. Off we went back on the train to the airport Raddison Blue Hotel and to study our Trafalgar Tour of France which we were to start tomorrow. All of this still so unbeleiveable to this couple of fairly old kiwis no so far away from home and having the time of our lives. We will definitely miss Switzerland. So clean and pristine and friendly and different yet similar to home for us - well more like the south island really.

Posted by RitchieOE 22:16 Comments (0)

Day 22 Thurs 10th May

Still in Zermatt Switzerland

What a day to be in Zermatt. No clouds in the sky and all the surrounding mountains are picture perfect, so what did we do? We paid 1/2 price for our tickets on the Gornergrat Bahn cog train and went up beside the Matterhorn (only 45 minutes travel this time) This train is on the outside of the mountain instead of the inside like Jungfrau so the view is amazing. The stop at the top is so fantastic with the Matterhorn just sitting in the next valley so we could see it completely this time. When we arrived at the top, a camera man was taking photos with a St Bernard Dog and I had to get him to take a picture of us with the dog and then the Matterhorn directly behind us. Such a fantastic momento. The fellow had lived in NZ but was from England. We had a great conversation with him. We certainly felt this trip was even better than the Jungfrau as we could see everything as we climbed up in the little cog wheel train. Also, it is 1,000 metres lower so we could breathe perfectly. We sat outside to sip tea and coffee and munch on cakes being inspired by the sites around us and the fresh clear air and the sunshine. There were large black birds with wings like hawks circling around us and they looked to magnificent against the blue sky and the white snow everywhere around us. They were even tame enough to hand feed them our cakes and I took wonderful photos of them in the foreground with the Matterhorn behind. Souvenier shopping and then back down on the little train to our lovely little town of Zermatt and 26 degree temperatures down there.

Day 23 Friday 11th May JENNA'S 1ST BIRTHDAY Glacier Express train from Zermatt to St Moritz.
Another perfect day to do a mountainous train journey this time an 8 hour trip. Yesterday we had phoned Jenna and woken her up at 6.30am which was her birthday day in NZ so that was a bit disasterous. We bought her a St Bernard Dog back pack to take to day care so we were actually shopping for a birthday present on her birthday. We really are missing her terribly and now she is walking and living in Whangamata all of which has happened since we went away.
The Glacier Express was also 1st class travel and we got on and sat beside an Australian couple, Bob and Camelia, from Sydney, but originally from Armenia,all the way to Chur, which was most of the journey. They were real characters, especially Bob. At the next station, a Canadian couple, Grace and Neville, (originally from Jamaica) sat on the other side of us. They were also hillarious. We decided we had the Commonwealth representation here and the trip went by so fast with lots of laughter - I mean tears running down my face laughter, photos of each other in this condition, singing and generally probably spoiling it for the rest of the passengers with our loudness. Most of the other passengers were Chinese and definitely must have wondered what they had struck having to put up with the Commonwealth noisy ones at the back of the 1st class carriage. Both couples got off at Chur and we then had 90 minutes of utter quietness with just us there to represent the Commonwealth. I bet the Chinese were very relieved for that 90 minutes. Then were really concentrated on the amazing scenery and feats of bridges and zig zag tracks on the cog trains way up high in the snow once again. We arrived in St Moritz late afternoon to sunny day and 21 degrees. This time the hotel was just a little way a way from the lake, about 2km away from the train station, so we were met again and taken to our palatial hotel where we had dinner and Valda finally tried Swiss fondue and Swiss wine. OK I don't need to try those again. Fondue is quite an unusual flavour and it was dipped in a huge bowl of chunks of bread. It was very filling and the wine was definitely not as nice as our NZ wines but I tried them eh. We had a walk to the lake afterwards an it was so peaceful here. Not a lot happening that night in the very fashionable St Moritz and we never saw one celebrity as we expected we would, but still very beautiful there too.

Posted by RitchieOE 21:28 Comments (0)

Still in Switzerland (but not really)

Zermatt

Day 21 Wednesday 9th May Butterfly Hotel Zermatt
Breakfast at our hotel then headed straight to the train station to catch our Matterhorn Gothard train to Zermatt. Firstly, we had to change at Spiez. Lonely Planet guide's suggestion was to walk down to the lake to see the Castle Schlott. a 15 min walk down from the station in the rain to it was fine as we could see how far it was to walk downhill to it from the train station. While inside, the sun came out and became a beautiful day and definitely another one of those highlights for us. Again, our trusty Euro rail deal meant a free visit to this amazing castle, which is normally 105 SF each. It was actually humid then for our steep walk back up to the station. The castle has all types of gruesome weaponry and armour from the 13th century through to the 15th century. Furniture, the castle kitchen, banqueting hall of 1614, stove 1534, court room, attice, parlour and paintings of families who had lived there over the centuries were all so different and so interesting. In the paintings, 1 woman stood out from the rest as she had had 22 children and some of them were in paintings hung beside hers. The sad thing about that was that most of those children of hers had only lived until they were about 10 years old. The garden and the castle overlook the beautiful Lake Thunersee (Thun) as does the chapel and the whole property. We were invited to go down to the crypt but couldn't find the key to do this and it certainly looked pretty scary anyway.
Next, we caught the train to visp where there was not much to see expecially after Spiez, so we transferred to our next train to Zermatt. This trip through the mountain pass was a little reminiscent of the Karangahake Gorge in parts, Stunning and yet more pics taken from the huge windows in 1st class seats. We arrived in Zermatt in mid afternoon to 21 degrees and warm warm sunshine. This little town is entirely different to any other we had been to and so was our hotel Butterfly. It is built like a swiss chalet and although a bit of a rabbit warren downstairs in the communal area of the reception, bar and breakfast area, it was absolutely interesting and our room was wonderful with a great deck to dry our washing on in the sunshine too. All the swiss chalets with their gabled rooves, wooden walls and shutters are everywhere we travel in Switzerland making it such a picturesque place. Although it was in sunshine when we arrived the Matterhorn was shrouded in snow cloud so we were certainly surprized the next day when here was the Matterhorn looming over tiny little Zermatt totally out there for all to see and love. OMG what a sight!!!! No lake in Zermatt though but as pretty a wee town as you could not even begin to imagine. This whole village is absolutely swiss chalets up close and personal and you wander around through them including really old ones dating from certuries before which are so well preserved even though they are wooden. No cars in this village allowed, just taxis and bicycles.
We even had the taxi meet us at the train station to take us to Hotel Butterfly. That was nice as our bags are definitely getting heavier with souveniers now and its all cobble stoned street to wheel the bags over even though it was just down the road, it was still really nice to have that .

Posted by RitchieOE 21:31 Comments (0)

More of Switerland

Up to the Jungfrau finally after thinking about doing this for 8 years! :)

Day 20 of our big OE Tuesday 8th May Jungfrau.
A wonderful breakfast in our 5 star hotel the off to the Jungfrau at 10am for the trip we have wanted to do for 8 years. The train took us to Grindelwalde first to transer to the next train. all the while the weather was superb with wondeful views of the mountains. We stopped for 1 hour to look at this dear little swiss mountain town. Spring of course now so many of the shops are closed as Winter and Summer are their busy times, so it was very peaceful and beautiful there with hardly anyone around. a cup of coffee sitting outside a restaurant on a warm clear day with snow around and mountains looming above was unreal and exciting. Many spring flowers e.g. tulips, roses, forget-me-knots and wee alpine crocuses futher up the mountains made for many photo opportunities as well. Back on the next train to Kleine Schiedegg to board the Jungfrau cogwheel train us through the mountain. All the way climbing slowly into the thick snow outside the mountain. The train stops at 2 stops on the way where windows with glass in them are viewing points to see outside as its all dark the whole way to the top otherwise. Freezing cold when you get out at these points but worth the view. Still can see the snow outside and mountains around but only a quick time allowed to get out so you are back in the "tunnel like" climb to the top. Getting out at this vantage points is good because it prepares you for the altitude where, at the top, there is 1/3 less oxygen to breathe. Already, people are asleep on the train which we had been warned about. Facinating how many people were actually asleep really on this very amazing trip. They were missing out on the excitement of it all. Same thing on the bus tour of Italy. We never missed a thing due to sleeping on the bus. We kept awake always. Its a long way to come to see the sites and sleep all through it don't you think?
Finally, the 2 1/2 hour journey finished and we were at the top of Europe at 3454 metres, just over 11000 feet WOWY! Bugger though, after being in sunshine all the way up, we were now in snow cloud so couldn't see much at the top. We climbed to the top floor of the building (4th floor) and nervously went outside bearing in mind the low O2 levels. Guess what! It was snowing lightly! OMG how amazing was that! Here we are - finally on the Jungfrau and its snowing too. What an adventure for these 2 kiwis who don't get to enjoy snow much. Bloody cold though and yes we were finding it a bit hard in the altitude. Des got pretty dizzy and I wasn't feeling so good so in the end, we went back to the train after only 1 hour as when we started to go down to the icesculptures, I felt very weird (yes, more weird than normal you enquire?)
Des had gone quite grey by then and was having difficulty breathing so a visit to the souveneir shop and back onto the train.
We sat outside at Kleine Schiedegg where we had to transfer trains again and had lunch in the snow. wonderful hot swiss food was just the answer to our "altitude sickness" and by then, we could see the Jungfrau come out of the snow cloud mist and it was there right in front of our eyes again. It was even quite warm sitting outside again, so far up into the mountains. Boarded the train and this time went to Lauderbru nnen, another gorgeous little swiss village where we got out for a walk to view the amazing waterfall which absolutely leaps down the mountain and spews out far away from the hillside getting us fairly wet too. We finally got up close to those wonderful Swiss cows with their large bells hanging around their necks. They make a huge noise when they are just gently moving along grazing. The Swiss seem to only have a few cows in their herds which is good because 13 of them there was quiet a symphony. Imagine the size of a Waikato herd all with bells. The noise would be unbearable - pretty - but bloody annoying.
We then travelled back to interlaken getting in about 6pm so a long day even though we actually only spent 1 hour at the top of the world. This was an amazing day which we will never forget and thanks to Lisa, all is going so smoothly and we are really proud of ourselves getting around Switzerland all by ourselves.

Posted by RitchieOE 16:50 Comments (0)

6th May Day 1 in Switzerland

This is A French keyboard and keys are in different places OK?

Zurich Ùp at 5.30 and taken to the Rome airport by a taxi driver who talked constantly and went through q red light. Nice but God looked after us in Italy I am sure. Flight was just over 1 hr to Zurich and ze zere met by our lovely Barbara, a guest who stayed zith us in 2011. She took us home to her house where we met her family and had a lovely lunch there. She lives high above Zurich town so ze looked down on where she was to tqke us later. She then basically, did a complete walking tour of the old town and then took us to the train station and put us on the 1st class section of the train to begin our amazing journey through this beautiful country. We had also had a boat trip, a trolley bus ride and she had sorted out our train pass verification. All this stood us in good ste

Posted by RitchieOE 16:40 Comments (0)

(Entries 31 - 35 of 47) « Page .. 2 3 4 5 6 [7] 8 9 10 »