Switzerland 2010 Part III
It's hardly Niagara, but these falls in northern Switzerland near the German border are the largest in Europe. Wikipedia tells me that they are 450 ft wide and 75 ft high.
Immediately on stepping off the train I could hear the roar of the water, but first I headed upwards to Schloss Laufen. As well as providing access to various viewing platforms, the castle houses an interesting exhibition where I learned that Dutch timber companies wanted to blow the falls up but were eventually prevented from doing so by the locals who didn't want to lose their tourist attraction. Various plans for hydroelectric power were also thwarted.
Built in 1880? That's what this sign in the middle of the falls seems to be saying.
On the other side is Schloss Wörth, from where boat trips take tourists to the small island right in the middle of the falls.
Visitors can also view the falls from an airship.
I took a ride on one of the boats which are a sort of larger version of the abras in Dubai and "dock" by simply charging at a ramp on the shore. I wimped out of visiting the island and just took a trip across the river back to Schloss Laufen.
Stein am Rhein
Described in the guide book as having the prettiest town square in Switzerland, this town a few miles upstream from the Rheinfall has a well preserved Medieval centre, with many of the buildings having painted decoration.
Even the architecture of modern buildings (This one dates from the 1980s if I remember correctly) is in similar style.
I continued further upstream to Rheineck to travel on the short rack railway up the hill to Walzenhausen. Now, where does the train leave from? Ah, it's on platform one. And I do mean on, the tracks are laid in the tarmac of platform one and the quaint 1950s railcar has its own raised platform!
The Aroser Weisshorn (Not to be confused with another Weisshorn near Zermatt which is a lot taller) rises to 2653 metres (Wikipedia again!). A scenic railway from Chur takes you to the pleasant town of Arosa.
From Arosa two cable cars carry visitors up to the peak.
Then the real mountaineering starts, the final ascent of the north face involving a difficult traverse and some rope-work on the vertical section. Oh alright, in truth the final ascent is by escalator, indoors and heated! The views from the top, at 2,653m or 8,704 feet, are spectacular.
The line from Chur to Arosa runs through the streets of Chur, and I paused to take some pictures when I got back there. Even the loco run-round operation involves shunting in the street.
This branch line runs from Zürich up a small (by Swiss standards - It's 873 m or 2864 ft high.) mountain. The unusual trains have their pantographs offset to one side. This is because the Zürich end of the line is shared with another line which has a different electrification voltage, so the contact wire is placed to one side to keep the systems separate. There are plans to introduce dual-voltage stock here, I imagine they will move the wire to the middle when that happens.
At the top is a TV tower and a smaller observation tower from which there are good views of Zürich and the surrounding countryside.
For the rail enthusiasts amongst you, here's my complete travel log for the trip.
|Wednesday 8 September 2010|
|17.13||Zürich Flughafen||Zürich HB||460116|
Thursday 9 September 2010
via Hedingen (S9)
Friday 10 September 2010
101964 from Meiringen
Saturday 11 September 2010
Sunday 12 September 2010
|13.04||Tirano||St. Moritz||53 + 55|
Monday 13 September 2010
|13.31||Schaffhausen||Stein am Rhein||526727|
|14.57||Stein am Rhein||Romanshorn||526765|
|17.40||Rorschach||Rheineck||526736 526707 526xxx|
Tuesday 14 September 2010
Wednesday 15 September 2010
|09.37||Zürich HB||Zürich Flughafen||460080|
|10.10||Zürich Flughafen||Zürich HB||460004|
|10.25||Zürich HB||Triemli||556527 556528|
|12.06||Üetliberg||Zürich HB||556522 556521|
| ||Zürich Bahnhofplatz||Flughafen||Be 5/6 3073|
|18.41||Manchester Airport||Saint Helens Junction||156486|
|19.39||Saint Helens Junction||Huyton||150142|