SWISSbuckling to Europe Pt XI – From Meiringen to Eschen via Glacier Express

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Glacier Express

It was an ambitious day: we would cut across Switzerland to get from (A) Meiringen to (I) Eschen where our next accommodation was located.

The fastest way suggested by the SBB-CFF-FFS travel planner was to backtrack to Zürich (via Lucerne) and transfer to (F) Chur.

That of course wouldn’t as fun as taking the Glacier Express, the slowest express train in the world.

Our route

There would be a total of seven different trains or buses:-

1. (A) Meiringen to (B) Interlaken Ost (InterRegio 2210)
2. (B) Interlaken Ost to (C) Spiez (InterCity 962)
3. (C) Spiez to (D) Brig (InterCity 812)
4. (D) Brig to (F) Chur (Glacier Express)
5. (F) Chur to (G) Sargans (S1224260)
6. (G) Sargans to (H) Vaduz Post (PostBus 12)
7. (H) Vaduz Post to (I) Eschen (PostBus 11)

1. (A) Meiringen to (B) Interlaken Ost

InterRegio 2210

Migros was once again where we grabbed our supplies for the epic journey ahead. Yogurt was once again our choice of breakfast.

Yogurt should be eaten with a chocolate spoon

Lake Brienz again

Around half an hour later we arrived at Interlaken Ost where we transferred to the train to Spiez on the adjacent platform.

2. (B) Interlaken Ost to (C) Spiez

InterCity 962

It was a short 20 minute ride to Spiez and we couldn’t really get any good shots of Lake Thun.

The 15 minutes connection allowed us to cool our heels a little at Spiez.

Lötschberg Bahn’s locomotive

Train to Brig departing from Platform 3

We were surprised to find our train was standing-room only when it pulled into Spiez. Damn!

3. (C) Spiez to (D) Brig

InterCity 812

There was no more room on both decks and we were standing near the door with two mountain cyclists. They were on their way to the other side of Alps for some cycling and they promised that the weather would be better on the other side.

Thankfully the journey was only 35 minutes. Most of the time we were passing through Lötschberg Tunnel (or is it base tunnel?) so there wasn’t much of a scenery.

The crowd eased at Visp and our butts got a few minutes on the seats until Brig.

Brig – the weather didn’t seem better

Animals on train

Cyclists saddling up

While getting out of the station, we came across an amazing busker.

Waiting for his big break

4. (D) Brig to (F) Chur

Glacier Express 906

Glacier Express is a reservation-only train and we needed to pay extra 33 CHF per person for the reservations at Brig station.

Reservations

We had some time to kill at Brig and walked a bit through the town.

Brig Station

Uphill walk

Not so serious side of Einstein

Quiet Brig

The platforms for Glacier Express were located outside the station, away from the mainlines. Ying and I polished off a packet of Migros house brand chips (absolutely delicious) while waiting for the train.

Platforms where Glacier Express departs/arrives

Locomotive painted with the words ‘Glacier Express’

Next train would be ours

Posing

The train’s here!

Upon entering our carriage, both of us were awed by Glacier Express’s panoramic car.

Panoramic car

Headrest

The seats

There were magazines, menu and headsets on the table and one could plug the headsets in to listen to running commentary on the scenery outside. There are several language options and I alternated between English and the Mandarin versions.

Plugged in

I also flipped through the on-board magazine and there was a short write-up and a timeline of Glacier Express’s history.

Nothing compares to Glacier Express

Gotta agree with that: More than just traveling!

Reading…

Passing through Valais’s countryside:-

Dead cow??

Taken from one end of the car

We were quite happy to see sun for the first time in Europe an hour or so into the journey.

…and we saw glacier too!

Since it was lunch time, we ordered hot drinks (coffee and hot chocolate for 9.30 CHF) to go with the Prussian cookies that we picked up at Meiringen’s Migros.

Prussian

Happy!

Glacier Express passed through three Swiss cantons: Valais, Uri and Graubünden. We boarded at Brig which is Valais and the next stop was Andermatt, the only stop in the Canton of Uri.

Andermatt

The train started to climb the Oberalp Pass after passing through Andermatt and the sunny weather outside turned into fog.

All fogged up

The fog cleared up soon after and we could even see friendly hikers waving at us.

Hikers waving at passing train

Lake

We had a fairly long stop at Disentis/Mustér, the western terminus of Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn. The conductor informed the carriage that the train would leave at 2.37pm “with or without you” and it got a few laughs out of the passengers.

Leaving at 14:37

Disentis/Mustér

The locomotive of Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn would be disengaged here and replaced by one from Rhaetian Railway (RhB).

Disengaging the MGB locomotive

Japanese tourists waiting for the RB locomotive to be engaged

Crew working hard

One friendly train attendant offered to take photographs for us

There was another Glacier Express train which departed 19 minutes after ours and we would need to wait for it to catch up on us at Andermatt. There was only one RhB locomotive to bring all the carriages to St Moritz and that explained why both trains would arrive at Chur at the same time.

Arrival of the second train

Connecting trains

Toured the dining car before the train get going again

We got acquainted with the Chinese couple who were on our carriage. They approached us to help them to take a photograph at the platform and they were surprised that we could speak Mandarin.

We had earlier overheard the husband speaking to the conductor in relative fluent German and decided to ask him about it. He told us that he studied at ETH Zürich back in the 1980s and could still remember “a little German”. His German was definitely more than little though and I reckoned that he is one of China’s elites.

We chatted quite a bit about their trip in Europe (Italy and Switzerland) and somehow the topic steered to Mongolia where both the husband and I had visited some time earlier.

Countryside of Graubünden

Headwaters of Rhine

Just before reaching Churs, the train attendant came around and distributed Kambly cookies. Nice touch.

Kambly cookies

All but two passengers in our carriage got off at Chur. We helped the Chinese couple find the platform for their train back to Zürich before locating ours for Sargans.

In all I thought that the extra 33 CHF reservation fee for Glacier Express was really well-spent. Would recommend anyone who’s passing through Switzerland to ride on Glacier Express!

5. (F) Chur to (G) Sargans

S1224260

While waiting for our train, we saw some really nice RhB locomotives.

Hockey Club Davos

Didn’t expect to see a Japanese train

Hakone Tozan Railway – RhB partner

Chur Railway Station – with Chur in background

It was a short 20 minute’s ride to Sargans and we arrived before we knew it.

Sargans

6. (G) Sargans to (H) Vaduz Post

PostBus 12

The toilet break and the time taken to figure out where the bus stop made us miss the connecting bus to Liechtenstein. The bus services in Liechtenstein are ran by PostBus of Switzerland and our Swiss Saver Pass was still valid. One could plan his/her journey through the system’s website which was in German only but nothing was too difficult with Google Translate.

Sargans bus station

Stand C – Bus 12 to Buchs (via Vaduz)

We had some time to do shopping (for water) at our last Migros in Switzerland.

Migrolino

PostBus 12

Inside PostBus 12

The bus entered Liechtenstein from the south and made a detour through Balzers. It allowed us to see Gutenberg Castle through the bus window.

Gutenberg Castle

Liechtenstein is the smallest country in terms of size (160 km2) that I’ve ever visited and the first one that is ever smaller than my own (710 km2).

We alighted at Vaduz Post around half an hour and found ourselves in the capital city of Liechtenstein.

I wanted to visit the Tourist Information office to get our Liechtenstein Pass but there was no sign of it from the bus stop. We went inside a random business hotel and the Russian (or Serbian?) receptionist pointed us to in the correct direction.

Sadly the office was closed for the day and the only thing that I got was the photograph of the 0km marker outside it.

Where all distances in Liechtenstein are measured from

7. (H) Vaduz Post to (I) Eschen

PostBus 11

The last leg of the journey was another half an hour on PostBus. It was already getting dark then and boy were we glad to arrive.

Landmark of Eschen

Our accommodation was just round the corner from the church and our host Christian was already waiting for us in front of the porch…

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