After a few days enjoying the Montreux area it was time to move on to our next destination, the little town of Spiez on Lake Thun. Being Switzerland, the journey is often as enjoyable as the destination. The Golden Pass line connects Montreux with Lucerne in the heartland of Switzerland. It’s actually a 3 stage rail journey via Zweisimmen and Interlaken but the connections are, as you would expect, seamless.
It’s a little difficult to take photos from a moving train and the sun glare was quite strong too, but here is a pictorial account of our trip (we went as far as Spiez about 20 minutes west of Interlaken). The railway line rises steeply up from Montreux, skirting round the other side of the mountain that leads over to Rochers de Naye (see here and here). We came to the pretty little station of Les Avants.
Leaving Les Avants, the rolling meadows of the pre-alps led up towards the mountains and valleys of the Bernese Oberland. The scenery was quintessentially Swiss – pretty wooden chalets, spring flowers and dairy cows happily grazing in the lush pastures.
The train began to climb again up to the higher pastures and the famous Swiss skiing town of Gstaad. It was out of season for the jet set skiers and a little early for the summer hiking season, so the town appeared very quiet, but basking in the glorious spring sunshine. By now, we’d crossed the Roestigraben (Roesti Ditch), the colloquial term for the division between the French and German speaking parts of Switzerland. Gstaad is part of the Canton of Bern – we had said goodbye to the French speaking Vaud.
A quick and efficient change onto our new train at Zweisimmen took us the last 40 minutes or so to the pretty lakeside town of Spiez – our home from home for the next few days.
If you are very lucky, you can ride on one of the Belle Epoque Pullman coaches that run on the Montreux / Zweisimmen leg (check the Golden Pass timetable for running times here). With their beautiful plush seats and polished wood ceilings, they transport you back to a bygone era. Unfortunately we didn’t get to ride on them on our recent trip, but by complete chance managed to do so on a previous trip back in 2011. Photos from the vaults here!
We have done the Golden Pass journey all the way once before, as well as several rides on part of the line and it’s probably one of our favourite Swiss train rides – all scheduled services, no need to book in advance!
We arrived early afternoon in Spiez. The station is at the top of the hill and our apartment was down by the lake. Not wanting to incur the expense of a taxi, we hauled our luggage partly by bus and partly by foot down the hill – suffice to say, the slight inconvenience was well worth it when we arrived at our little apartment. Our view for the next few days was priceless to say the least!
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