Switzerland 2010 Part II
Meiringen and Reichenbachfall
After my ride up the Rothorn in Part I it's only a short train ride to Meiringen. Trains are worked by these Zentralbahn locomotives.
Winter is coming, and the snow-blower is being prepared at Meiringen.
My reason for coming to Meiringen was to visit the famous Reichenbach Falls, known the world over as the place where Sherlock Holmes fought Professor Moriarty and apparently plunged to his death during the struggle. (The Adventure of the Final Problem - Strand Magazine December 1893)
Unlike Dr. Watson, who took two hours to hurry up to the falls in the hope of rescuing Holmes, modern visitors can use a funicular.
From the top there's a good view of the valley and the small town of Meiringen below.
The actual falls are quite impressive, and at one place the water has managed to drill a hole through an outcrop of rock.
Back in Meiringen the town salutes its fictitious visitor, responsible for a substantial tourist trade.
Route of the Glacier Express
The Glacier Express runs across southern Switzerland between Zermatt in the west and St Moritz in the east. When I say across, it's actually rather a lot of up-and-down! The scenery is, of course, amazing.
Half way, the line drops into the Gotthard Pass at Andermatt. Here's a view of Andermatt station "from above".
A change of trains at Andermatt. You can just glimpse the line we've just come down on on the hillside.
Plenty of shunting goes on here - If there's a party booking they just attach an extra carriage or two.
Further on, we come to the Furka Pass, where trains now cheat and use the base tunnel. Car trains shuttle vehicles along this section for drivers who don't fancy the road pass which climbs to about 7,000 feet.
The section of line bypassed by the fifteen-kilometre Furka base tunnel has been taken over by a preservation group, which runs steam trains over the line - the complete route only re-opened this year.
There's a spiral at Grengiols, the train will soon be using the line seen below.
I turned back at Brig (Having travelled from there to Zermatt on a previous holiday.) and returned to Andermatt, and then took the branch line which descends steeply in a narrow ravine to Göschenen.
Göschenen is at the northern portal of the Gotthard Tunnel on the main line from Zürich to Milan. On the right you can see the metre-gauge train climbing back up towards Andermatt.
Another of the famous scenic railways of Switzerland, possibly the most famous, running from Chur down to Tirano in Italy. Here's a typical Rhätische Bahn loco.
At Landwasser the train curves across the viaduct and then dives into a vertical rock face.
The line climbs up to over 7,000 feet and forested valleys give way to mountain scrubland, and views of glaciers above.
Once over the Bernina Pass, the line descends all the way to Italy.
The line runs through the streets at Le Prese.
The final, and perhaps the finest, feature on the line is the spiral viaduct at Brusio. The ugly red construction in the middle is something to do with the celebrations for the 100th birthday of the line.
A note about travelling on the Berninabahn and yesterday's Glacier Express route. On both lines tourists can book a seat on special through trains which feature comfortable air conditioned coaches with panoramic windows, and offer the chance to dine while rolling through this wonderful scenery. But why pay the supplement for these trains? I travelled instead on the "ordinary" services and so had the chance to open the windows and lean out to take photos. On the spiral viaduct I had half the carriage to myself so I could jump from side to side to get the best views!
This ski resort for royalty and celebs features a lot of expensive fashion shops. I quite liked the decoration on this building. I was rather startled to discover that the route from the station to the town centre was via an underground car park and a string of escalators.
Back at the station, a special train arrived with a steam engine on one end and a preserved electric loco on the other.
Swiss pictures continue in Part III.