Porcupyn's Blog

June 18, 2015

A trip to Switzerland – Day Five

Filed under: Family,Travel — Porcupyn @ 7:42 am

We woke up bright and early. As we had the 9 O’clock travel pass, the schedule I had made up called for us to be at the Rumlang station by about nine am, to get the 9:09 train to Zurich Hbf.

At the lobby, we had a great breakfast buffet waiting for us. Based on comments I read on the site, the breakfast was not up to expectations for folks expecting a hot breakfast spread but for us vegetarians, it was the best we could hope to get :-). We had bread (choice of butter, margarine, jam, chocolate spread, etc to top it with), croissants, muessli, fresh fruits, a wide variety of hot and cold beverages. In other words, we were very full when we got up!

Remember, we had the sixpack travel passes. Based on research, I had expected these to be stickers that could be affixed to your Half Fare Card. However, it turned out to be a card that had a notch to one side with six tabs (for lack of a better word that I can think of). The card needed to be punched at the Orange machine each day prior to the first trip of the day – the machine would strip off one tab and stamp the date on the card simultaneously.

Well, our card was slightly misaligned and so, by the time I stamped it for the fifth time, the machine had eaten up all the tabs!! Now, I was at a loss as to what to do – try as I might, I was unable to get the machine to stamp the card for the sixth time. I wrote down today’s date and hoped that it would pass muster.

Realizing that there were still over fifteen minutes for our train to come by, I walked under the tracks on the subway and over to the ticket office. Though the official here had a tough time understanding my English, he realized what I was saying and proceeded to print me a fresh card with one tab and wrote down the number of the original sixpack, showing that they needed to be carried together.

Our train was late by about five minutes or so – the platform was buzzing with folks late on their way to work (maybe?). In the meantime, a couple of freight trains went by, as did a fast express train that did not stop and also another commuter train which did – both going the other direction. We were not too worried because we had about fifteen minutes of waiting time at Zurch Hbf to board our train to Chur (leaving at 9:37 am).

When we got to our departure platform at the Hauptbahnhof, our train to Chur was already waiting for us and we got in and found some seats. IIRC, it was a reasonably empty train. To our left was a large lake flanked by mountains almost all around it (except to the north and the west). Along the lake were a couple of parks and a walking/bike trail at least for some part of the way. Without much ado, we reached Chur (10:52 am arrival) where we saw Rhaetian Bahn trains standing at a siding.

As further proof that I had not properly researched this leg, we went up the stairs to the Post Bus station, which was significantly bigger than those we had seen before – at Interlaken, at Visp, at Spiez, and at Meiringen. Of course, had I researched it better, we would have taken the train from Chur to Andermatt, which is one of the most beautiful legs of the Glacier Express.

We were in Chur because I had wanted to take a train that loops around itself and, having spotted a few such loops on the route south of the Gotthard Pass (for some reason, not realizing that these happen at high speed and mostly within tunnels), I had decided to take the northbound train from Bellinzona along the William Tell route. As a result, we were headed there from Chur on our next segment.

There were at least 15-20 “platforms” for the buses – I say that in quotes, because these are just bus spaces marked on the pavement which have the number painted on them as well. The kids and I were really enthused to see a double decker bus standing at the platform marked for our destination – Bellinzona. Our happiness doubled when we realized that not many passengers had boarded the bus and – when we climbed to the upper deck – we saw that the first row was vacant. Needless to say, we occupied the four front row seats to get a straight up view of the road and the scenery ahead of (and around) us.

As a first for me, the platform had a signal right in front of the bus (for each bus). Right on time (11:13 am departure), we got our green signal and our bus departed.

Soon after we got out on A13, we saw a train in the distance that looked like the Glacier Express (I might or might not be right on this one). Then, we travelled along a river which, I realized after returning, was the Rhein flowing in the opposite direction. Along the route, we saw snowcapped mountains as well as others.

One good thing about travelling long distance (i.e., 2 hours in Switzerland) by bus or train is that it gives time for the family to interact and/or catch up on their sleep. The latter was what kids preferred and so, for a big part of the trip to Bellinzona, one or the other was fast asleep.

Photos for today are in this album (Photo Credit: Baab)

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