Enjoying the grandeur of the Golden Pass with Rail Plus' Clem
At Rail Plus, we're not only fanatical about delivering outstanding train holidays for our customers, we love going on train adventures ourselves!
Our team of expert travel consultants wouldn't be fit to call themselves rail experts if they had not experienced worldwide train travel first-hand, through the large variety of rail packages on offer.
At the tail-end of last year, one of our travel consultants, Clement Tringale, was victorious in a three-month competition involving several travel professionals. Every two weeks, Clem and his competitors were asked a variety of different questions and were set various challenges that related back to the travel industry. Once the competition was over, the scores were totted up and the winner announced, with our Clem coming out on top.
The Golden Pass Train, a major highlight
His prize was an all-inclusive trip to Switzerland which incorporated a ride on the revered Golden Pass Line, the very first fully panoramic train on Earth. Additionally. the prize also included a trip on the Jungfrau train, a line which takes it passengers high up into the mountains.
The Golden Pass travels between the Swiss destinations of Montreux and Lucerne. As the train pulls out of the former, it climbs at a steady pace above the mighty Lake Geneva, so passengers can appreciate an unrivalled view of the Lake Region as it unfurls below them like a carpet.
When is Switzerland, take the scenic route...
As the lake slips from view, the Golden Pass train dives into a mountain tunnel, emerging the other side into a land replete with verdant valleys and sweeping vistas.
After the train has passed through the renowned resorts of Chateaux d'Oex and Gstaad, it trundles on to the popular destinations of Zweisimmen, Interlaken and Lucerne. Every inch of the route is worthy of a photography moment, so let's see what Clem thought of it.
He travelled from Interlaken to the upmarket region of Montreux, and it was the scenic quality of the broad panoramic windows of the Golden Pass that really impressed Clem as he climbed on board.
A golden pass for the senses
What's more, Clem travelled just as the Christmas season was settling in Switzerland, lending a festive feel to proceedings. Now, Switzerland is a breathtaking country to look at during all seasons of the year, but the Yuletide period adds a little something extra to its character. Perhaps it's the extra dustings of snow that cover the landscape or the sound of ancient carols filling the air...
So what else did Clem enjoy onboard the Golden Pass?
Switzerland is a breathtaking country to look at during all seasons of the year.
"The train is slow and scenic as it gently undulates through the mountains. So, even though it can take a while to get from place-to-place, this relaxed pace is actually advantageous.
You get plenty of time to take pictures, and as a journey that lasts about five hours, there will be lots of photograph opportunities."
"When at Lucerne, we went on a day trip to the Swiss Alps, where we ascended to a height of 3,800 metres. There's a railway station up there, which is actually the highest in all of Europe."
This is serviced by the Jungfrau line, so let's take a look at this soaring service.
The highest ride of them all
The world-famous Jungfrau railway is one that snakes through the ancient Alps, a cog-wheel railway that climbs up to the Jungfraujoch. It travels through a seven-kilometre tunnel from the Eiger Glacier station, deliberately stopping twice to grant unrivalled views of the mountainscape around you.
When the train finally reaches the mountaintop station, you can hop out and take a look at the 'ice palace' nearby, with carved frozen sculptures. Be sure to take a lift up to 'the Sphinx' - a towering observation terrace, as well as the 'Alpine Sensation' - an experience that cannot be had anywhere else.
What is the best way to explore Switzerland?
Switzerland is a country that just begs for further exploration. From Bern to Basel, Lake Geneva to the splendour of the Alps, experiencing Switzerland is a real treat for the senses. Though it's possible to purchase a point-to-point ticket for the Golden Pass, why not go one better and opt for the Swiss Travel Pass?
This fantastic pass offers you great savings overall and saves you the hassle of having to purchase multiple tickets throughout your Swiss stay. You'll be able to choose from over 26,000 kilometres of train, bus and boat routes, as well as climbing aboard the public transport systems of over 75 Swiss towns and cities. Additionally, holders of this pass will be granted 50% discount to many mountaintop trains and cable cars, as well as free entry to certain museums.
Having travelled across Switzerland, Clem states that he would advise any potential travellers to pre- purchase the Swiss Travel Pass, as travel in the country can become very expensive if the pass isn't purchased here in Australia.
What are the top places to visit in Switzerland?
Because Switzerland is full of things to see and do, it can be difficult to know where to start in this fascinating country.
Therefore, Clem has come up with a list of things you must take a look at once you touch down - here is what he said you really shouldn't miss:
- The Jungfrau train, of course, is fantastic for the jaw-dropping views that it provides - not surprising when you think about how high up you are!
- If you find yourself in Engelberg, be sure to take a trip up Mount Titlis, full of great views. The one from the top of this peak is among the top views in Switzerland.
- For a taste of traditional Switzerland, Lucerne should be your first port-of-call. Not only is the old city bursting with rustic charm, it's also dotted with sparkling lakes that make for a perfect sunset photograph.
- Montreux is more than just a point on a map. It's an area with Lake Geneva right on its door stop, not to mention UNESCO-listed world heritage vineyards in the shape of the Lavaux Terraces - all under the backdrop of the Swiss Alps, of course.
What would Clem like to experience when he returns to Switzerland?
Though Clem didn't get a chance to visit them during this trip to Switzerland, he has saved a few special places to visit for his return. He would like to take a ride on the ever-popular Glacier Express train. This service cuts across the country through the mountains, across sheer gorges and rolling plains, taking in 91 tunnels and a staggering 291 bridges! Additionally, Clem said that he's also planning a trip on the Swiss Chocolate Train, which runs between the vineyards of Montreux and the ancient town of Gruyeres. Will he opt for the vintage 1915 carriage or the modern panoramic car? Either way, a grand experience is guaranteed!
If you'd like to follow in Clem's footsteps and ride the Golden Pass train through scenic Switzerland, and perhaps explore the rest of the country, be sure to get in touch with the expert team at Rail Plus - don't forget your camera!