Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Honeymoon Day 4: Goldenpass Panoramic Train to Montreux

1/2/2017
Honeymoon Day 4: Goldenpass Panoramic Train to Montreux

We had no trouble getting up early in time for our morning train out of Zurich thanks to jet lag. We were up at 6:30am again and ready to get moving. We headed to Zurich HB early, at about 8 am, to validate & start our multi-day Eurail pass. I was a little worried that the agent at the desk was not going to be very nice as he had a very stern look on his face when I stepped ahead by mistake before my turn, but as I got to the booth, the attendant was VERY nice! I had realized I had probably stepped over the line I was supposed to wait behind and I was not following the rules -- like with the lady at McDonald's the night before, I just needed to follow the procedure correctly and then everything would be OK. :)

As with all travel things relating to transport I can be a little nervous before the details are sorted out -- we needed to pay for the upgrade price on the 2nd leg of our Goldenpass journey today, and we had prepaid the reservation fee but not the upgrade price... etc. I got to the desk and the dude was super nice and super chill. "You look nervous! Don't worry, it is not an adventure..." (he meant buying my ticket correctly was not an 'adventure' i.e. it was all very straightforward and nothing to get worked up about!) I think he was concerned that with his choice of words in English that he could be inadvertently diminishing the excitement for our trip. "Um... I mean... it's not 'complicated'?" "Yes, very easy!" I replied back and we were sorted out swiftly and on our way to a series of fun trains across Switzerland for the morning and into the afternoon.

First stop at the station, of course, was to buy tons of snacks for the train. Most importantly: chocolate. We stopped at the other Sprungli store (different from the one the day before), and got a croissant. They had tons of chocolates there. I got a small assorted bag and the lady asked "Would you like to try a Luxemburgerli?" (The macaron we had tried the day before). The answer, of course, was "absolutely"!




We headed next to a Co-op store and got some more general snacks for the train ride: Kaffe yoghurt, juice and some weird-sounding rhubarb soda. There was a small grocery shop called Migros as we picked up a "Laks" wrap (Lox!) and something that seemed to be kinda famous, a doughnut called a "Berliner" which basically looked like a Sufganiyot. We also went by an organic spot to get a (million dollar) coffee.


Packaged Raclette!
"Moana" is called "Viana" here for some reason


Loaded up on snacks, we headed to the train to Bern. The views were great even on this first, not-specifically-scenic portion of our long train day. The weather became progressively more wintery as we continued. The trains were very fast and so efficient. On the way to Bern, there were lots of stark-looking remote farms. This was more of a city-to-city train rather than a tourist-marketed scenic train, but we'd get there soon.




We got off at Bern and switched to another train to take us to Interlaken Ost station. The scenery started getting more and more "Swiss" -- we continued by homes that looked like ski lodges and cool boats on a canal in town. This was awesome and we polished off all our food just before arriving in Interlaken. I had been to Interlaken (and Switzerland, in fact) only once before with my family in 1995 when we lived in England. It was super awesome to return and only a little like I remembered it.





Once in Interlaken, we were hit with a frigidly cold air and we went across the road from the station to the Coop grocery store to suit up in all our winter gear. We put on a bunch of warm clothes, and then realized the supermarket was kinda cool so we walked through there looking at chocolate in clothes that were now much too warm for inside.



Suited up and ready to roll, we headed out to take a walk through Main St. We saw the M Gallerie hotel that we had considered staying at if we were spending longer in Interlaken, and an amazing multi-block-long city skating rink that was the biggest outdoor skating rink I've ever seen. It was, of course, packed with people too. It had lanes, and a whole route for skaters to follow. Crazy.


A whisky shop, which was closed for the New Years holidays, selling Swiss Whisky!



Well, didn't expect that.
A fun Veuve Clicot fake gondola
HUGE city skating rink!

We continued wandering through town and found a town square with a band playing fun big-band music. They were all wearing funny costumes and big warm fur clothing to stay warm. This was very energetic for the chilly weather. Looking around, of course, there was a vendor selling Gluhwein! We also saw some masks for the January 2nd holiday of Berchtoldstag, called "Harder-Potschete". This is a yearly festival in Interlaken and unfortunately we were going to miss the parade, but it was cool to see some of the masks and excitement in town because of the festival. The band played "Hey Jude" and had funny decorations like stuffed animals attached to the drums.




Here's a video of the band playing:




So that was all a lot of fun. We continued walking to a DVD shop where I saw a bunch of Pixar movies with German titles which was awesome. In the same mall area was a large Migros grocery store (I called it "Mi-gross", obv). It was not as good as the Coop earlier in the walk, but they had great food for the train trip so we stocked up. Elderflower!!! Yes. We got some Rustic Chips flavoured with "Swiss Herbs" (those were amazing), some sparkling-ish Apple juice, the famed Vacherin Mont d'Or cheese, and a fun little package called a "Käse platt" ("Cheese plate") which came with 4 different local cheeses (wahoo!!!!!!!!)





We then got to the Interlaken-West station (we had intentionally planned to get off at Interlaken Ost and walk the streets of the town for our 2hr stopover, buying some groceries for the trip, and then getting on the next train at the station on the other side of the town). That worked out a charm and we boarded the start of the Goldenpass line here, the MOB line to Zweisimmen. This first portion of the trip we did in standard 2nd class, but upgraded the 2nd part of the journey to 1st class as people had recommended that. Our snacks were epic and the views even more so.


"Cheese plate!"









We switched in Zweisimmen to the final train of the day which would take us all the way into Montreux. This was our 1st class ticket and the train windows on this main portion of the Goldenpass Panoramic route were truly magnificent, offering you a really wide and incredible view of the brilliant Swiss countryside.

We were really "in the clouds" here as we made our way towards Montreux. The views were epic: stark, single farm houses on vast farms, and surprisingly not a lot of snow? The train started to fill up with more people around the cute countryside villages of Gstaad and Château-d'Oex -- which looked like an idyllic Swiss village!)













The views were stunningly beautiful as we descended into Montreux on a windy hillside track. It was super super epic. Here are a bunch more photos, as well as a video of portions of the trip.









Winding down the hill into Montreux




So that was all totally amazing and we were so pleased with our decision to take this train route. We arrived at Montreux to find out we'd been pronouncing it incorrectly the entire time. It's "Mon-truh", not "Montrough". Whoops. And now, to "The Grand Budapest Hotel"! We headed off the train and towards our hotel, the Fairmont Montreux Palace... and my, was it sure a palace. It looked amazing and so much like "The Grand Budapest Hotel". We got to our room to find an incredible lake view, cool "grass" carpets with fun designs on them, wine, an amazing heart-shaped chocolate cake, fruit platter, and fancy water!!! WOW!!!!!!!!!





The view from our balcony!

Oh maaaaaan that cake was good

We had a little snack (couldn't hold back from trying that chocolate mousse heart-shaped cake!) We were quite tired so we took a nap and had a much-needed sleep at about 4:45pm.

We woke up waaay later at about 9pm and I was sad that we "didn't do anything" (haha) and had slept for so long. Michal, as always, is epic, and she rallied hard and we did a bunch of stuff. We got dressed up and headed right downstairs to Funky Claude's Bar, and my are we glad we did! We'd heard it was awesome but it was TOTALLY AWESOME. It was so cool, live Jazz musicians belting out tunes, fun and weird whisky cocktails, and such a fun and funky vibe in there. I got a crazy drink called a Smoky Old Fashioned which was Talisker 10 with Lapsang Suchong tea!! It reminded me a lot of the Glenmorangie Pop-up bar cocktails in London. That was so good and served with a glass dome which you opened and the smoke rolled out. So friggin' epiiiicc. MAN that was fun.


My crazy "Smoky Old Fashioned" on the right


These chicken tenders were magic
Funny and weird bird-lamp thing!

They had classy and nice bar snacks too -- crunchy corn and also really good olives. As Michal and I were sitting there, we thought, "I wonder if they'll play our song..." and as we were saying that literally they began, "Wise... men.. said...only fools rush in... by I.. can't help... fallin' in love... with.. you." Super good times!



Since we had such a good and long nap, we stayed at Funky Claude's for a bit and then headed out in town to wander at 11ish. We walked all the way down the one street (!) in Montreux and while most shops were closed it was still a lovely (if brisk!) walk. We noticed the Casino in Montreux was still open so we wandered in there. A very lucky night for music for us, as we got in there they were playing "Smoke on the Water" (the name of the cocktail I just had!!) haha. Sadly, our music luck did not translate to Casino luck, and we proceeded to lose ("donate"?) 60 Swiss Francs. Was a fun evening anyhow and Michal clearly had better luck than me there. She called me a "High roller" as I had put in a 20 franc note and pressed some button on the slot machine which I thought was to "Collect" my receipt so we could leave having only "donated" 40 CHF. But I pressed some weird and confusing "Autoroll" button and not what I thought, the "Payout" button. Who would want that?!?! The machine proceeded to keep automatically spinning until my 20 franc note was gone. That was an odd button, they should have shaped it like a toilet instead (As in, "Please flush my money down here"). haha. Well, a learning experience, nonetheless.

More cool bars at the hotel
Hotel ballroom

The Montreux Casino!
So our Casino luck was kindof a fail but it was fun nonetheless and funny to go there. Just as I lost that 20 francs I started coughing a bunch (either there was smoking in there, or I am allergic to wasting money), and so it was time to roll. We walked back in the chilly air to the hotel and... epic.



A super fun travel day and an especially amazing evening of exploring a new city, checking out all the things, and making the most of every moment. C'est la belle vie!