Switzerland From A Train

To go or not to go; that’s the question. To visit this gorgeous mountainous country of Switzerland was one of my bucket lists while in Europe. Unfortunately, at that time, Europe decided to have one of its harsh winters. I was monitoring the weather forecast everyday as the time for me to go back to Indonesia came near. It was March 2012; from The Hague I heard news about how bad the winter at the moment across Europe. The lake Genève was frozen completely, many people got frostbites, not to mention snowstorm here and there. Well, perhaps it was ordinary for European to experience such winter, I thought, but not for someone like me who came from a tropical country. However, one of my Dutch colleagues said that this winter was exceptional. They have never had this coldness for 10-15 years, that’s why they decided to held the ice skating race through the rivers across the country.

Lucky for us, not so lucky for the race, the weather warmed up three weeks before I had to go back to Indonesia. Therefore I decided to buy an airplane ticket and went to Switzerland! Yeay! I travelled with two other friends. Since we only have the weekend to travel, we booked an evening flight on Friday to Basel, a city in the border of Switzerland which adjacent with two other countries, Germany and France. We arrived at around 10 p.m. in Basel and then exchange some of our Euros into Swiss franc. We decided to stay at the Basel airport since it was already too late to go out to find accommodation, we were short on money anyway, and proceed to find a good spot to sleep at the airport.

We found a bench at the Departing floor and decided to sleep there. Fortunately, the heater was on to keep us warm through the night. They dim the light a little bit so it was perfect for sleep. I had this slight memory of when I sleep, some of the officers of the airport were tidying up the benches and they asked us to wake up so they can move the bench. Half asleep I obey them and stand up from the bench and sit again when they left. Swiss people were really nice, they even wished us ‘good night and sweet dreams’ before they left. This happened as a blur to me as I was really half asleep and not fully conscious at that time.

Early in the morning we rode a bus to the city and purchased our train tickets. One thing that shocked me was the price of the tickets was 20% higher than the price that I have researched. Feeling that we couldn’t back away after coming all the way to Basel, we bought the ticket and stick to the plans. I emphasised to the ticket seller that I want to ride the Golden Pass panoramic train so she won’t give me the wrong ticket.

1Welcome to Golden Pass panoramic train!2The inside of the train.3Met a new friend in the train –>4The train ROCKS! I love it! The window was so huge you didn’t notice that this was taken from the inside of the moving train.5Lake Geneve as seen from the train. It was a HUGE lake 0.o

From Basel the train depart to the city of Montreux. What’s there? I didn’t know either. The original plan of our short Swiss trip was actually to enjoy the panoramic view from the train! As we only have Saturday to explore and will have to go back to The Hague Sunday afternoon; we had the flight back to The Hague booked already. Anyway, as we stopped in Montreux for a few minutes, we exchange more Euros into Swiss franc as we ran out of it when we bought the train tickets *cries. Then it turns out unnecessary as Swiss accepted Euros as well.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe city of Montreux. You can see the Lake Geneve on the right.

The next city we happened to stop by was Zweisimmen. It’s a small town surrounded by mountains, the Alps!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWelcome to Zweissimen. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Alps in all its glory. Models: Pertha and Shanty.12The famous St. Bernard dog. 

Since we were in Switzerland, we had to try the famous Cheese Fondue! Swiss is pretty expensive compared to The Netherlands; we were a little bit shocked with the prices there. We came across a decent restaurant and decided to have our lunch there, Cheese Fondue. I didn’t expect that they put white wine in the fondue. We had the fondue with some bread and tea. It was the first time I tasted Cheese fondue; I am quite liking the idea of having a Cheese fondue in Switzerland, the place where it came from. The fondue was…. ok. I don’t know, for Indonesian who’s used to strong and rich flavours, maybe I was expecting too much.10The owner of the restaurant. She’s a nice lady.11Cheers!

At the Zweisimmen station while we were waiting for the next train to bring us to Interlaken, I was wondering why the train has not arrived yet. I had the train schedule with me and it was 5 minutes before the train was supposed to depart from Zweissimen. Why hasn’t the train come yet? Then exactly one minute before departure time, the train arrived. We boarded the train and it left promptly; at the exact time it was supposed to depart! We were amazed at how punctual the train was! Actually same thing also happened while we were transiting in the city of Bern. We ran from one train to another afraid that it might leave us as we only had one minute to change train, and we were right for rushing because the train departed as soon as we board it!

We arrived at Interlaken later in the afternoon. It seemed like Interlaken is bigger than Zweissimen. Well, since we only managed to explore the surrounding area of the train station, we couldn’t say much. 13OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Interlaken station.

One thing that I noticed was that Swiss people are very kind and friendly. Everyone we asked is it for direction or train schedule answered kindly and we happened to talk to some of them.15Shanty waved at two strangers who were canoeing. 16The next moment, they came and offer us a ride! Which we refused politely as we didn’t have the time for that 😦 Had to stick to the train schedule.

It seemed like not all of them are originally Swiss national; there were many people who came from neighbouring countries to work as well. Interlaken was extremely clean! Well, perhaps the other parts of Swiss are as clean. The river colour was blue and it was freezing! Trust me; I put my feet in the water! Brrrrr!17Timidly approaching the water.18It’s freeeezziiing. Look at our faces!19Regreted the decision to put our feet in the water.20Feeding the ducks.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATeam Switzerland! \(^0^)/ Background: Jungfraujoch, one of the peaks of the Alps.

The last city from our train trip list was Lucerne. Too bad we arrived there around 7 p.m. and it was dark already. Moreover, my digital camera which was not very good in catching photo at night in the beginning was running out of battery! The only camera that we could depend on was Shanty’s cell phone, but recently she had all the data erased from the phone due to some error. -_- Anyway, Lucerne is a big city. It was very lively compared to Zweisimmen or Interlaken. It was beautiful also; too bad I couldn’t share some good pictures we took with Shanty’s cell phone here.23Cheers from Lucerne.

After exploring this city, we went back to Basel. Guess where did we spend the night? Yes, at the airport in Basel! Ha-ha. We were so cheap. -_- The next day we had flight at 12 in the afternoon, so we woke up early and explore some part of Basel city. It turned up that Basel is a pretty big city. We didn’t pay any attention yesterday as we were so focused on getting on the train; but Basel was really nice and pretty.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASunrise in Basel.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

To sum up, we had a wonderful short time in Switzerland. I hope to go there again sometime in the future. Too bad we were riding the train at the end of winter yet it was not spring enough for the flowers to bloom along the road we crossed by train; otherwise it will be really gorgeous to see a more lively scenery of spring from the Golden Pass panoramic train. (npa).

P.S.: One of our friends, Eva is going to Geneva soon to study, so this writing is dedicated to her. We can hope for some more writing about Swiss and this wonderful train in the future from Eva, right Eva?! 😉 Oh, and also some writing about Sweden from Randy, as he already started his master there recently! 😉

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