Lucerne was a beautiful surprise. It was the starting point for our train trip across the Alps and the first place we saw in Switzerland as we descended from the plane. Well, not quite the first. We actually saw Zurich airport first, then took the escalator down one level and hopped on the train to Lucerne.
And if we are on the subject of trains, let’s talk trains. Let’s talk Swiss trains which are a special category: clean, safe, efficient and beautiful. But then what else can you expect from a country that makes the best time keeping devices and knives for the military equipment? They say the trains in Switzerland don’t run by the clock, the clocks are set by the arrival and departures of the trains! Switzerland is a country like no other. Order, precision and punctuality are just the norm there.
Trains are by far the greenest way to explore the country. In Switzerland they have two kinds of trains: the regular and the scenic trains. A regular train is meant to take you from point A to point B. You may see some scenic views on the way, but the main purpose of these trains is transportation, not sightseeing. On the other hand, scenic trains will take you from point A to point B, but their itinerary is especially designed to pass through the most picturesque landscapes you could ever imagine. On the scenic trains the journey is as rewarding as the destination.
Traveling by train in Switzerland is easy and does not require lots of planning. If you buy a Swiss Rail Pass you are covered for most means of transportation. You can hop on and off the train, bus, boat, cogwheel train, or funicular. Inter-city trains do not require seat reservations, but the scenic trains do.
Our eight-day scenic itinerary was planned so that we could experience three different kinds of scenic train rides in three different parts of the country. The GoldenPass Panoramic Express was the first one we took. This line stretches From Lucerne to Lake Geneva, but we took it only to Interlaken. We started off in Lucerne and began passing through villages and towns scattered throughout Switzerland. The enchanting 2-hour ride to Interlaken took us along the shores of crystal-clear lakes, past romantic waterfalls and past magnificent mountains.
Throughout the scenic ride, the Swiss landscape kept our noses glued to the window. I was in a photo shooting frenzy for the entire trip, trying to immortalize the bucolic landscape while fighting the window glare. This is actually the only downside of the scenic trains: their panoramic windows don’t open, so photography is a real challenge.
When I made the reservations for the GoldenPass Line I was hoping to get aboard the Classic Belle-Epoque train, with its romantic luxurious cars that you can see only in the movies. Unfortunately, the Classic cars run only between Montreux and Zweisimmen, so between Lucerne and Interlaken there are only the panoramic train cars. But, nothing to complain about. The panoramic cars feature huge windows that stretch up to the ceiling, very comfortable seats both in first and second class and have access to a well-stocked “Rail Bar.”
I didn’t feel like getting off this train as we arrived in Interlaken, but the thought of an even better place was reassuring. So we said good-bye to the GoldenPass Line, but with a sigh of regret.