We woke up bright and early (5:30 AM) to board the Luzern-Interlaken express train on the GoldenPass Line. Before we left we were able to get a quick breakfast at the Hotel Flora that was very delicious and quite the spread. I love that in Europe they eat cold cuts for breakfast. I ate plenty of cured meat and delicious Swiss cheeses. They also had veal sausages that reminded me of the Weisswurst that I had when in Germany. Along with all of the Swiss delicacies they also had items that we as Americans picture to be breakfast such as bacon, eggs and yogurt.
All aboard the GoldenPass scenic train
From our hotel it was a 5 minute walk to the train station where we got onto the Luzern-Interlaken Express. This is a brand new train and offers spectacular views of the mountains with its panoramic windows. We began our journey in the bistro car where we were given tea and croissants as we watched the sunrise over the mountains. 30 minutes or so into our journey we began moving up a steep hill on a cogwheel track. It was quite a different feeling moving uphill on a train and you could hear the clicking of the cogwheel track. As we moved uphill the snow became deeper and deeper until there were a couple feet. To my surprise there were houses poking out of the snow but I did not see any roads or driveways. Not sure how people are able to live up there.
An inside look at First Class on the GoldenPass Line
From the bistro car we moved to the 1st class car which was very comfortable and also offered panoramic windows. From the outside of the train you can tell which cars are first class because they have a gold stripe on them (the train themselves are red and white). Another thing that has been great so far is how smooth the trains ride. I am prone to motion sickness when sitting backwards on trains but barely noticed I was sitting backwards on this train. These trains are far different from the metro-north trains I am used to that feel like they are going to bounce you directly out of your seat.
Our last stop before Interlaken was Brienz which sits at the base of a beautiful blue/green lake in the shadow of several mountain peaks. I have never seen views like this before, it is absolutely breathtaking! I want to come back in the summer because I know the lakes would be beautiful. In the summer you can also take a steam cogwheel train from Brienz 2,244 meters up to Rothorn Kulm. The train you take is open air and only open from May to November.
From the Interlaken station we changed trains to get onto the BLS train (Bern–Lötschberg–Simplon railway) that will take us to Zweisimmen. This is also on the GoldenPass Line which is covered under our Swiss Peak Pass. Unfortunately it is very foggy today so we can’t see the tops of the mountains. One thing I am noticing is how none of the lakes are frozen. I expected it to be very cold in Switzerland but it has been quite mild and pleasant compared to what we’re having in New York this winter. Even at the top of Mt. Pilatus I didn’t have to wear a hat or scarf.
Quick stop in the ski village of Gstaad
As we move on we start to see lots of snow and eventually make our way to lots of ski resorts. It is so cool that you can get off the train and walk directly onto the gondola that will take you right up the ski slope. What I would give to get off the train and go snowboarding right now! No snow machines necessary here! We had a short layover in the cute ski village of Gstaad. Right at the train station they have ski buses to bring you to one of many ski slopes in the area. Walking around the town you really appreciate the architecture of all of the buildings. Every building was a French chalet style, the woodwork and painting on the buildings was fantastic. It looked like a Swiss ski village out of a movie.
Experiencing the Classic Car on the GoldenPass Line
After a quick tea we got onto another train that would take us to our final destination of Montreux. On this leg we were in a classic car which made you feel like you were sitting in an old luxury home. The ceiling was all carved wood and the seats were like comfy living room chairs.
On the train we were served a delicious lunch of cheese, bread and charcuterie. My favorite meat was some sort of pepper crusted salami – they were all delicious though. Along with our meal we were given red and white wine. I preferred the white wine for its clean fruity finish. After our meal we sipped tea and watched the perfect scenery go by. At this point it had gotten even more foggy so it was difficult to see much.
Final stop for the day: Montreux
When the train pulled into Montreux you could barely see Lake Geneva down below. The city has a very French feel which makes sense since we can actually see France across the lake. Montreux is a French speaking city where as everywhere else we’ve been so far has been predominately German. Montreux is essentially a city sitting on the side of a mountain. All of the roads (besides the main shopping stretch) are very steep, narrow, and windy. This makes for great views everywhere you go. I’m pretty sure every house in Montreux has a lake view.
We were supposed to take the train up to Rochers-De-Naye but decided against it because of the heavy fog. Instead we took a bus up the mountain a bit and then took a funicular (steep cog railway train) back down. The bus ride up was amazing, on a clear day it would have been perfect. The whole way up you are on a road right on the side of the mountain. An absolute perfect view of the lake and city the entire way.
After this excursion we checked into our hotel, the Eurotel Riviera. The hotel boasts that every single room has a lake view and terrace. The hotel is very modern and updated but the views are really the star of the show. The fog is supposed to be cleared up by tomorrow so I can’t wait to see the views of the mountains across the lake. This hotel also has a huge patio area right on the lake that would be so beautiful to eat on in warmer weather. If you walk out from the hotel towards the lake there is a paved walking road that goes along the lake. The views of the lake are beautiful of course but there are also lots of shops, restaurants and statues along the way.
After a quick break in the rooms we met in the lobby of the Eurotel for dinner. The food was wonderful and the restaurant has walls completely made out of glass overlooking the lake. We had beef carpaccio to start and then moved on to the whitefish cooked in a foil packet. I was given salmon due to dietary restrictions and it was really great. We also were given lots of wine from the Lake Lucern region.