Monthly Archives: September 2022

Switzerland, a journey in a dream

Photo: Gstaad from the Golden Pass

Chances. Always take chances. If there’s one thing the last few years of travel bans and stay-home orders have taught me it’s to say yes. Say yes to going somewhere. And, in particular, find reasons to go to places you love. 

So when Arsenal drew FC Zurich in the Europa League I got that slightly giddy feeling. It stuck around when the match was immediately scheduled with just over a week/s notice. Enthusiasm was undimmed when the venue moved from Zurich to Saint Gallen, an hour away by train where I assumed it would be played. There was another problem. The day before I was taking the new night train from Hamburg to Stockholm, so would be waking up on Wednesday in Sweden. Still, I like a challenge. In short time all these hurdles were cleared, fixed by an afternoon flight south from Scandinavia to Geneva. And then, after cashing in some Avios to spend on a hotel, a precious day to do some exploring, with a late afternoon deadline to make kick off.

I can imagine some people might start the day with a leisurely breakfast and a stroll round Lake Geneva. Those people would still have been snoring as I caught an early train along the lake from the deeply unlovely Cornavin station, happy to be escaping one of Europe’s most boring cities. The previous night I’d had a quite nice beer by the Rhone, then an extortionate meal. Bye Geneva, see you again never I hope.

This journey I was travelling with a Swiss Day Saver rail pass, which doesn’t feel like an incredible deal at close to GBP100 but is quite easy to get very good value from. You can also get it cheaper by booking earlier. It can be used on many scenic trains in the country, which is almost all of them.
The trundle along the lakeshore to Montreux was just an appetiser for what was to come. Waiting in a quiet corner was the Golden Pass, promising almost three hours of incredible Alpine scenery en route to Zweisimmen.
At Zweisimmen there was a cross-platform connection to Spiez, a stop on the main line from Interlaken Ost to Bern. Here I caught up with myself. Two days before I’d scrapped my way to Hamburg-Altona to catch the onward train to Sweden. Here I was being offered the chance to retrace my own footsteps. This train, running into Germany, was the only late-running service I saw in Switzerland.
By day’s end I was in the away section of the Kydunapark watching Arsenal. At half time, Queen Elizabeth II died. I walked out the back to this sunset, missing the minute’s silence.
A thousand ideas for a next adventure.