by Judy M. Zimmerman
You can set your clocks by Swiss trains, along with its busses and steamboats.
All are connected in a unique travel system that is synchronized for amazingly easy
and prompt connections. Because I’ve experienced many train journeys all over
the world, I know that Switzerland has the world’s best.
Although Switzerland is only 216 miles from north to south and 137 miles from
east to west, it encompasses four diverse cultural regions, each with its own
language. Approximately 63% are German-speaking cantons (states or districts),
185 French, 10% Italian; and 1% Romansch.
The Grand Train Tour
The best way to discover all the delights of spectacular Switzerland is by taking its
“Grand Train Tour” – eight rail routes which merge the highlights of Switzerland
into one breathtaking route. On this wonderfully diverse journey, you can lean
back, rest and relax in comfort. www.myswitzerland.com
Four of the Most Popular Grand Train Tour Routes
The Glacier Express This eight-hour journey links the Alpine resorts of St. Moritz and Zermatt, crosses
291 bridges, through 91 tunnels and seven valleys. You are surrounded by snow- capped mountains and the majestic Matterhorn. The sunny valley of the upper Goms region with its sun-blackened wooden houses and white church spires is one of Switzerland’s most beautiful landscapes.
The Bernina Express The Bernina Express from St. Moritz to Lugano connects the north of Europe to its
south, offering breath-taking views of the Monteratsch Glacier, Lake Bianco and the Poschiavo Valley in Italian-speaking Switzerland.
In the summer, the journey can be extended from Tirano to Lugano aboard the 3- hour Bernina Express post bus, which passes a cluster of quaint villages enroute to the palm trees that line Lugano’s lakefront, where you’ll discover a delightful mix of Swiss efficiency and the Italian dolce vita.
From Lake Lugano comfortable steamboats makes frequent stops at villages along its shore. On a recent boat ride I got off the boat several times for lunch at a lakeside café and/or a stroll up an island’s mountains paths to admire the lush terrain and backyard vegetable gardens.
The Golden Pass Line The Golden Pass Line links German-speaking central Switzerland with the French
language part of the country. It passes through countless lakes and waterfalls, including world-renowned destinations such as Lucerne, Interlaken, Gstaad and Montreux on Lake Geneva.
The Gotthard Panorama Express The Gotthard Panorama Express takes travelers from the sun-kissed Canton of the
Mediterranean magic of Ticino, where passengers change from the train to a steamboat that glides over Lake Lucerne which is surrounded by imposing mountains. Aboard the boat, delicious meals and snacks are served. In Lucerne, passengers then board panoramic railcars to experience the wonderful historic Gotthard route, an outstanding engineering achievement that was opened in 1882.
An option to purchasing a ticket for all the eight routes of the Grand Train Tour is
Swiss Travel Pass
For maximum flexibility for traveling through Switzerland by train, bus and boat the Swiss Travel Pass Flex is the perfect ticket for quick deciders. It is valid on 3,4, 8, or 15 freely selectable dates in one month.
Recently, I used the Swiss Travel Pass for a one-hour train ride from St. Moritz to the enchanting Romansch-speaking area of Scuol in the country’s easternmost corner with Austria. This is a region of wilderness seldom found in ultra-civilized
Switzerland. It has become popular in the past 40 years for its winter sports, hiking trails, and outstanding mineral springs spas. During Scuol’s unique co-ed Roman-Irish spa baths and massages everyone is naked during the 2-1/2 ritual (which is common in Europe).
The Swiss have also created a perfect system for baggage transportation. Visitors from abroad can hand in baggage at almost any departure airport worldwide and have it delivered directly to their Swiss destination.
For details, see www.swisspasses.com/swiss-fly-luggage.