Having the services of an experienced and friendly Tour Manager ensures that a holiday in Switzerland with Great Rail Journeys really is something to remember. Here's what Tour Manager Marion Motz has to say.
I love mountains, lakes and rivers so, as you might expect, Switzerland and the Alps are some of my favourite places. For anyone who is new to Great Rail Journeys, Switzerland is an excellent place to start. The Alpine scenery is spectacular at any time of year, with magnificent mountains, gigantic glaciers, attractive Alpine passes, valleys, forests and lakes. But Switzerland's amazing network of mountain railways is a unique feature and, because the trains on which you travel run efficiently and punctually, it's the ideal destination for a holiday by rail. I can't actually decide which is my favourite because they all offer an otherwise impossible opportunity to get close to the incomparable scenery or to access the parts of the Alps where this is the only effective means of transport, winter and summer.
Each tour gives me plenty of opportunity to personalise excursions for customers. Some want to walk or sail and in many of the areas it's possible to walk high up into the Alps on safely-prepared paths and this is wonderful whether you visit in winter or summer. Other people enjoy visiting museums and churches in places like Bern and Lucerne, and this is easily arranged. But, mostly, it's the scenery - and the trains that take you into it - that people come to Switzerland for.
The Glacier Express, for example, is Switzerland's best known train. The 181 mile (290km) trip from Zermatt to St Moritz lasts around eight hours - which is why the Glacier Express has been dubbed "the slowest express train in the world". The sedate pace is actually an advantage as the journey winds its way through some of Europe's most dramatic and beautiful scenery.
The narrow-gauge Bernina Express connects northern and southern Europe and offers a spectacular means of crossing the Alps, running through the ancient landscape of Switzerland's beautiful Graubünden region. It begins at Chur and meanders past glaciers, an Alpine garden and rushing mountain streams, then passes through the 5,955 foot (1,815m) long Albula Tunnel and climbs over the Bernina Pass to more than 7,000 feet (2,134m) before crossing the Italian border to arrive in Tirano.
The famous Jungfrau Railway is really special. It takes you to Jungfraujoch - Europe's highest railway station at 11,333 feet (3,454m). To join it, the route from Interlaken runs first to Lauterbrunnen on the Bernese Oberland Railway, a journey of 12 miles past snow-dusted meadows, charming wooden chalets and attractive farming cabins. At Lauterbrunnen, the Wengeralp Railway runs to Kleine Scheidegg. Due to the steep route, the line is actually the world's longest continuous rack railway and the views are outstanding. The final section of the journey is on the Jungfrau Railway itself, which runs the remaining six miles to just below the summit of the Jungfrau Mountain. Much of the line is in a tunnel with huge windows carved into the rock, looking out to the infamous north face of the Eiger, and providing spectacular views down to the valley below, before emerging at Jungfraujoch - the 'Top of Europe'.
Great Rail Journeys has over 20 tours to Switzerland, and they're all designed to ensure you see the country at its very best. So whether you are a single traveller, a couple or part of a group, I and the other Tour Managers will be there to make your holiday everything you would want it to be.