Saturday, November 13, 2010
We arrived in Zurich at 9am. We purchased our rail pass and open tickets and off we went on a train to the Alps. We headed for the Southeast section first. The scenery was beautiful just getting to the mountains. There were lush green hills along lakes and rivers, with high waterfalls cascading down the rocky hills. High bridges with pretty rock arches. After an hour or so we reached the mountains and it was beautiful. We rode for another hour and decided to head a little closer to Italy to a town called Poschiavo.
As we switched trains to head to Poschiavo we ended up missing a connection and had about 30 minutes in a little town called Samedan. We decided to take a short walk and let the kids play in the snow. I wished we had more time to spend in this town. It was beautifully set on a hill and fun to walk through. Poschiavo is also a beautiful town and as the train came over the mountain and wound it’s way down to the town in the valley, we felt like we were looking at a toy train set or a puzzle. It was very picturesque. The homes, the barns, the animal shelters. Everything was so beautiful.
The sun was quickly fading so we had to leave Poschiavo after arriving and head back to Chur where we were spending the night. We awoke bright and early to get a head start on the scenic day. We boarded a train and headed west through the mountains. We went through dozens of tunnels-the longest was over 10 miles long. The highest pass we went over was the Oberalp pass. Near the top the train stopped for a few minutes. There is a train stop up near the top. There is nothing there but a frozen lake and snowy mountains all around. Since the next train wouldn’t be there for an hour we couldn’t get off, but we enjoyed the scenery out the window while we were stopped there. There are many parts of the track that only has one way, so the train would have to stop for a few minutes here and there so that trains going the opposite direction could pass. We arrived in Zermatt near the famous Matterhorn Mountain around 1pm. We walked around the ski town and went for a short hike in the hills. It was my birthday, so I got to pick dinner. Most of the time we pick up food from the grocery markets and have sandwichs, pasteries, and snacks. But I wanted to have authentic Swiss fondue. We still had to ride a train back to Zurich so we wanted to have an early dinner, but that was complicated. After 2pm, most restaurants turn off their grills and do not serve hot food again until 6pm. Many just close up for the hours between lunch and dinner. And since we were there in the off season, many places were simply closed for the month. We found a place that was serving fondue. We decided to send Kylynn and the kids to McDonald’s, and then David and I would go and enjoy the fondue. And we did; it was delicious. Cheese fondue, served with simply bread and potatoes. While Switzerland is a beautiful country, it is an expensive country and the kids spent almost $50 at McDonalds for dinner.
We rode the train to Zurich and spent the night there planning to attend church in the morning, then sight see around Zurich and take the night train back to Prague. Well we got up and ready for church in the morning and headed to the building listed on the church’s website at the specified time, to find no one there. We tried calling the numbers we had for the ward, but couldn’t reach anyone, so we don’t know if we were at the wrong place or had the wrong time. We headed back to the train station and on with our day. We decided to spend a few hours seeing more scenery and more of Switzerland. We headed to Luzern and then on to Bern, the capital. In Bern we took a bus to the old city where there is a clock that was built in the 12th century. It has moving puppets that dance around every hour and a hammer that moves to ring the bell. The old town was beautiful with narrow streets. Many of the windows in the buildings had flowers outside them. It was so pretty. I really liked Bern and would have loved to have spent more time there.
Another thing we noticed about Switzerland was the amount of bikes. While we didn't see alot of people riding bikes, they had huge bike racks and storage places everywhere. At each train station there were huge bike racks, some double stacked to store bikes. There were a lot of bikes in them too. They must use bikes here alot to get around.
We headed back to Zurich and walked along the river through the old town before our night train. In Poland we love to get a pita sandwich called a Kebab. It is very similar to a gyro, but usually with chicken or turkey meet rather than lamb, often the sauce and toppings vary depending on where you buy it. Many countries in Europe have a variation of the Kebab, and we found some in Switzerland to try. They were delicious. The meat was cut super thin and was delicious. We also had fun trying different chocolate bars made in Switzerland too. Our favorite was a chocolate and pistachio bar.
I would love to go back to Switzerland someday. The funny thing is that previous to this trip, it was not on my list of places to see, but after going there, I would love to go back and spend more time wandering through the little towns. The scenery was beautiful, but we have just as beautiful scenery in Idaho and Utah.