Swiss Glacier Express Holiday (Page 3)

Tuesday 18 August 2020
This was a free day to explore Chur and its surroundings. The day started grey and overnight rain continued into the morning, so Janet and I spent the first part in and out of shops. However, the skies soon cleared, and we took a walk to the station, where I had noticed some RhB narrow gauge trains started from the forecourt. This line goes through the streets, and ends up at Arosa. I would have liked to take this trip, however Janet had had enough of riding on trains. Nevertheless, despite having expressed her apprehension at travelling in cable cars, before this trip, she had coped with the first day to Oeschinen lake, and surprised me by suggesting we take the cable car from Chur, up into the nearby mountain (does she hate trains that much?). We therefore had lunch in the square, after I took some photos of the Arosa trains –

Arosa train at Chur

Open carriage

Ready to depart

Plus a video.

We had noted the cable car route from our hotel window, but not yet seen any cars, so wondered whether they were actually running, but decided to walk through the old town to where the map marked the terminus. On enquiring, we were assured they were running, one every 20 minutes, so booked our tickets. The car was a large one (compared to those at Kandersteg, which seated up to 6, although social distancing meant that only one family per car was safe). Into this several mountain bikes and bikers were fitted, along with another six or eight people. After a five minute journey, were arrived at the mid point, where, we realised, the main climb began, as we changed into one of the smaller “merry-go-round” cars to the summit, which took another ten minutes.

Cale cars

Once at the top, there were several choices of walks, some longer than others, but with the clouds drawing in again, we decided to stop off at a typical alpine wooden lodge, serving drinks –


Once we had retraced our steps, we took the two cable cars back to the town, where, typically the sun was shining! Meanwhile, we presume the bikers ‘enjoyed’ a thrilling ride down the slopes!

Janet with large cable car

Dinner that evening was up to our choice, so we found a local restaurant, and dined with Bridie.

Wednesday 19 August 2020
Our final day in Switzerland commenced our journey home. Our main luggage was left in the hotel, to be taken by DHL to our home, and we departed on the 9:09 service to Strasbourg (France) changing at Basel, with just under an hour in the station. As we passed through Liestahl, I noted the 750 mm gauge tracks of the Waldenburg railway, home of steam loco G Thommen, modelled by Liliput alongside their original Zillertahl U class. Another opportunity for some heritage missed!

We were into Strasbourg hotel by 14:00 so had time in the afternoon to explore the town, including this view of the ancient buildings, beside the river –


Our final dinner together was in a local restaurant –


Anti-clockwise from bottom right: Jean, Peter, Bridie, John, Robert, Janet and myself.

Thursday 20 August 2020

A leisurely breakfast was followed by a walk back to Strasbourg station, to catch the 10:43 TGV service to Paris Est. Although the distance to Paris Nord station is walkable, we were picked up by coach, which dropped us outside the main entrance, giving almost two hours to check in and pass customs, before boarding the 15:13 Eurostar 9039 back to St Pancras.

Final arrival in St Pancras was 16:39 BST, and Janet and I joined the Thameslink service home, to be met by our son.

Those of you who are astute will have realised that on the first Friday of our trip the half expected announcement by the English Government was made that from Saturday 15 August 2020, travellers arriving in UK via France would have to quarantine for 14 days. So that is what we (all) are doing as I write.

As Tim Vine would say “A trip of a lifetime – never again!” Despite the restrictions, we enjoyed ourselves, and as strangers gelled together. However, this was not a trip for rail enthusiasts, and I have already booked some days away in Wales to see steam – Narrow Gauge of course!

[This was originally posted on the Narrow Gauge Railway Modelling Online Forum. I am grateful to fellow members of the Forum for correcting and clarifying many facts].

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