Zermatt Journals

'Glacier Express' Over the Alps

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A March 1998 trip to Zermatt by jemery

Icy Bernina Pass (The Italian Connection) Photo, Zermatt, Switzerland More Photos
Quote: Mountainous Switzerland probably packs more visual impact per mile than any other country. Its railroads, which don’t run with quite the precision of Swiss watches but come close, are the best way of seeing it. This Zermatt-St.Moritz excursion is considered one of the world’s 10 most scenic railway journeys.

Glacier Express

Attraction | "'Glacier Express' Over the Alps"

Glacier Express Photo, Swiss Alps, Switzerland
Quote:
From the quaint mountain city of Zermatt, Switzerland, a meter-gauge railroad winds down a steep, narrow river canyon to the Rhone Valley, beginning the trans-Alpine journey of the Glacier Express to St. Moritz. It's far too steep for a conventional locomotive; ours switches to rack-and-cogwheel drive for the more formidable grades. My guidebook says we’ll encounter 291 bridges --- including Europe’s highest --- and 91 tunnels en route.A stop at Brig, then, leaving the Rhone, we start climbing. At Andermatt, we confront a massive wall of rock and ice; down comes the cogwheel and we claw our way upward, with marvelous views of the village below. We reach Obera...Read More

Glacier Express
Swiss
Swiss Alps, Swiss Alps
41 (0)27 927 77

Hotel Victoria

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Hotel

Hotel Victoria Photo, Zermatt, Switzerland
Quote:
Most tourists who ride the Glacier Express either begin or end their trip in Zermatt, which offers a magnificent cogwheel railway excursion up the Matterhorn. Time limits on my budget-price air ticket forced me to stay in Brig, instead. Brig (pronounced ‘Breeg’) is a small, friendly, predominantly German city at the Swiss portal of the Simplon Tunnel, the international route for rail service between Milan and Paris. The legendary Venice-Simplon Orient Express once called here. The Hotel Victoria was an ornate, obviously historic, building at the foot of Brig’s main street and directly across from the rail station. My room and its furnishings were nothing fancy --- there was ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 5, 2001

Hotel Victoria
Reto Steiner
Zermatt, Switzerland CH - 3900

Hotel Victoria

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Restaurant

Quote:
Most tourists who ride the Glacier Express either begin or end their trip in Zermatt, which offers a magnificent cogwheel railway excursion up the Matterhorn. Time limits on my budget-price air ticket forced me to stay in Brig, instead. Brig (pronounced ‘Breeg’) is a small, friendly, predominantly German city at the Swiss portal of the Simplon Tunnel, the international route for rail service between Milan and Paris. The legendary Venice-Simplon Orient Express once called here. The Hotel Victoria was an ornate, obviously historic, building at the foot of Brig’s main street and directly across from the rail station. My room and its furnishings were nothing fancy --- there was ...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on July 5, 2001

Hotel Victoria
Main Street
Zermatt, Switzerland

Icy Bernina Pass (The Italian Connection)

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Attraction | "Icy Bernina Pass -- the Italian Connection"

Icy Bernina Pass (The Italian Connection) Photo, Zermatt, Switzerland
Quote:
At the foot of the high bluff separating St. Moritz from the railstation, the Sillersee is still frozen and snow-covered this March morning. We’ll skirt it for several miles before heading into the mountains that make this an acclaimed ski resort. Today, I’ll experience two contrasting worlds: Alpine winter, then the warm spring that’s already come to the lush valleys of the Italian border region. Chilly breakfast in St. Moritz, dinner in shirtsleeves in Milan. I’m on an unnamed, unpublicized local train across Bernina Pass --- just as icy and snowbound as yesterday’s ride on the Glacier Express but much sunnier. My railpass allows me to ride First Class, but I’m back in Sec...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 22, 2001

Icy Bernina Pass (The Italian Connection)
St. Moritz, Swizerland - Tirano, Italy
Zermatt, Switzerland

Gornergrat Bahn

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Attraction | "Gornergrat Bahn: 2 Miles up & Climbing"

Gornergrat Bahn Photo, Zermatt, Switzerland
Quote:
Though not as high or as steep as Switzerland’s famed Jungfraujoch Railway, the cogwheel train from Zermatt to Gornergrat is more than spectacular enough to warrant a side trip to Zermatt. Unlike the Jungfrau line, which spends much of its journey inside tunnels, the GornergratBahn clings to mountainsides all the way to its terminal, an icefield lookout station 3,131 meters (10,272’) above sea level. There’s a shelter house with restroom facilities for hikers and, if you’re willing to walk 150 yards or so uphill, a restaurant. The Matterhorn itself is still several miles away and 2,000 feet higher up. The trip starts with a bit of a surprise: At the first stop, more peop...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 10, 2003

Gornergrat Bahn
2 Miles up & Climbing
Zermatt, Switzerland

Glacier Express: Descent from Zermatt Photo, Zermatt, Switzerland
Quote:
One of my favorite railroad books concerns a stressed-out reporter whose doctor ordered him to Zermatt because "there were no stories there." Implying, when that was written in 1974, that it was a quaint little place. It’s true that Zermatt still refuses to allow internal-combustion vehicles on its streets, and that rustic chalet-like hotels still send horse-drawn carriages to fetch their guests from the railroad depot. Now, though, four- and five-star hotels lurk behind these rustic facades. Inviting, and busy, stores carry luxurious woolen goods, exquisite figurines, and hand-crafted music boxes costing thousands of dollars. You’re just as likely to be whisked to your hotel in a van-sized elec...Read More