Ok, so you know the routine by now. Having taken the tram to the station we caught a train from there. This time, we were on a strict schedule, because with the help of Markus in the SBB booking office, we’d reserved places later in the day. Firstly, we had to get ourselves to Andermatt.
The train journey is another scenic marvel. First, there’s the approach to the Gotthard Pass from Arth-Goldau to Göschenen where the winding spirals of the pass itself begin. The train weaves in and out of tunnels, winding around tight curves to work its way up into the mountains.
Forgive the terrible photograph taken through the train window, but this is the church in the village of Wassen which can be seen three times on the journey as the train spirals up in a double loop.
We changed trains in super-quick time in Göschenen, from where it was a fairly short ride up to Andermatt.
We’d climbed quite a way in just a short time.
Here, our Post-Auto awaited us. We’d reserved five seats and hoped the bus wouldn’t be full! First, we planned to take the route over the summit of the Gotthard Pass, crossing into Ticino, the Italian speaking part of Switzerland.
Not long after we’d started, we passed the old-style Post-Auto, just preparing to leave for a shorter tour than ours, I hope, for the horses’ sake. Personally, I was glad to be comfortably seated on our air-conditioned Mercedes bus, though I’m sure the old style would be fun for a while.
The views along the whole route were spectacular and we soon ran out of superlatives. In spite of an iffy weather forecast, the sky was clear and the visibility pretty amazing.
From time to time we glimpsed the old Gotthard road, over which I’d travelled with my parents in a Ford Anglia, sometime in the late 1960s, to visit our friends in Ticino. I didn’t think much of it then, but recall how proud my father was at the time. To think, he’d driven our old car all that way over the Alps! Now, looking at the road, I can see how justified that pride was…what a star!
I’m not sure the road today is that much easier, but we were in safe hands and enjoyed the incredible views from the window.
This was a service bus of course and it made a stop in several small villages along the way, announcing its arrival with a sound of the horn – the first four notes of the William Tell overture, repeated! In addition to those, we also had a few stops of around half an hour each, this one being the pass summit, where the cows were enjoying a little scratch against the barrier. The air was fresh and cool, there was a clear blue sky and the accompaniment to our conversation was the sound of cowbells!
There was a small lake at the summit, too, and the driver joked by saying we could have a coffee, take a walk or swim a few laps. I think that might have been a colder choice than we might imagine.
We continued down to Airolo, where another break gave us a chance to have a drink and catch our breath. All of this travel is pretty tiring, you know!
From here, we started the second part of our journey, over the Nufenen Pass, the highest pass open to vehicles in Switzerland. As we drove along the valley from Airolo, we could see the bridges and ledges along which we’d just come. Sometimes, perhaps it’s good to look straight ahead!
If anything, the Nufenen Pass was more spectacular than the Gotthard. The mountain views from near the summit were spectacular and we all agreed, it’s hard to imagine ever getting tired of such a view.
Up here, we could see well into the Berner Alps. The highest mountain on the horizon was the Lauteraarhorn, though its peak was shrouded in cloud. But what a great day to be up here.
Looking slightly to the left, the Gries glacier sat snug in the valley up there, shining beautifully in the sunshine. Here, we were into the Valais, the French speaking part of Switzerland – were our linguistic skills being challenged today or what?
From there, it was another interesting drive down the other side of the pass to Oberwald, from where we planned to take the third and final part of our journey, over the Furka Pass, back to Andermatt. But, sadly, Markus had made an error in his timetabling. Instead of the Post-Auto continuing on the route we anticipated, it was going on to Meiringen – not what we had in mind at all, and not really an option we could consider.
Never mind, our Swiss Passes allow just about anything and with a train due within a few minutes, we made a quick adjustment. We were sad to miss out on the Furka Pass, especially since not all of us have been inside the glacier at Gletsch before (and one who has doesn’t remember anything of it at all). But perhaps we save that for next time?
So, the little red train took us back to Andermatt and on to Göschenen, from where we caught another train to Arth-Goldau and back to Zurich.
Tired, but happy, we ate supper in the Appenzeller Restaurant in the station this evening, rounding off with a Zuger Kirschtorte bought from Sprungli on the way home. We’ll go our separate ways again tomorrow but will have fun when we meet up again in the evening with tales of our adventures in Switzerland!
Hope you’re having fun too?