We were ecstatic as we peeped through our flight window and the scenic vistas of Swiss Alps made us hold our breath. It was the last day of December when we landed in Switzerland and it had snowed heavily. We were so elated that we could not wait till summer to explore the beauty of this paradise on earth. But we were a bit skeptical too as our daughter was just 6-months-old and it was going to be her first snow. We were looking for best and safe options when we stumbled upon the Golden Pass route train ride.
The best way to experience the surreal locations of Switzerland without feeling the chill of the freezing breeze and without having to trudge through the layers of snow is the train ride through Golden Pass route. The scenic route winds through the picturesque landscapes dotted with pretty wooden chalets, snow-capped mountains, sloping hills of pine forests dusted with snow, shimmering lakes and the hazy overcast skies.
Our journey started early morning from Geneva to Montreux, where the Golden Pass route train commenced and heads towards Zweisimmen. We had a Swiss day pass which is issued to the Swiss residents but the Eurailpasses and Swiss Rail Passes work fine as well all through the entire route of Golden Pass. The views on the way to Montreux were as always mesmerizing with the stunning snow-covered Lavaux vineyard terraces sloping into perpetual blue Lake Geneva and the thatched roofs of the chalets painted white with snow.
The Golden Pass scenic route runs from Montreux all the way upto Lucerne. ‘Panoramic’ and ‘Classic’ are the two trains that you can experience on the route from Montreux to Zweisimmen. Though the regular trains also run on this route, Panoramic and Classic trains are specifically designed to make the Golden Pass experience richer.
We boarded a Golden Pass Panoramic train from Montreux. The ‘Panoramic’ trains have large windows offering a perfect unobstructed panoramic view as the name suggests, throughout the journey. The vistas from the train windows were so entrancing that it was as if a multi-dimensional movie was being played on the screen.
The Panoramic train ride was an amazing experience. We wanted to experience the Classic train ride as well for the rest of the journey. The Classic train was an hour behind the Panoramic train schedule so we thought to get down at Gstaad and use this time gap to explore Gstaad. Gstaad is a lovely hill town and favorite resort of many celebrities including Bollywood. The little charming town of Gstaad is a calm town lined with lovely wooden chalets with a backdrop of towering snow mountains. Though most of the wooden chalets were residences, several of them housed brand showrooms.
The fresh pristine air of Gstaad had already drifted Chhavi into a deep slumber. We enjoyed a quick stroll around Gstaad and boarded the Classic train to continue our journey to Zweisimmen which was around 30 min from Gstaad.
The coaches and the windows on the Golden Pass Classic trains have a vintage feel. It was as if we were riding back in time. A remarkable experience indeed with more of the picturesque landscapes.
Both the ‘Panoramic’ and ‘Classic’ trains have a bar and food coaches available which aren’t available on the regular trains. The trains from Zweisimmen to Interlaken are all regular trains, and the trains from Interlaken to Lucerne are again the Golden Pass Panorama trains.
As the train leaves Interlaken Ost the beautiful Lake Brienz was ubiquitous. As the color of the lake changes from turquoise to emerald we cannot but gawk in awe. The landscapes now had more of the greenery with a gentle sunny glow over the verdant meadows and rolling green hills. The train also passes through the Hasley Valley which was a reminiscence of our day trip to the wonderful Aare Gorge, a wonderland carved by the mighty Aare River.
Geneva to Lucerne takes around 3 hours of train journey on normal route and around 6 hours on the Golden Pass route. We reached Lucerne by noon had our lunch and boarded a train back to Geneva. The Golden Pass had us travel not only through the diverse landscape of Switzerland but also through the diverse population from French-speaking region of Montreux to German-speaking region of Zweisimmen.
The Golden Pass train journey is one of our favorite trips to take in the freezing winters. It was an incredible experience where the journey was no less a destination. Have you taken a ride through the GoldenPass route in Switzerland and experienced the wonderment?