Golden Eagle’s Company President and Founder, Tim Littler, captures the excitement of travelling through spectacular Switzerland, on a collection of historic and luxury trains, in this photographic diary.
Pre-tour extension from London to Basel via Paris
In my opinion there is no better way to join a spectacular rail journey than to arrive by train too! Joined by six other passengers commencing the tour in London, we departed from St. Pancras station on the 11:31 Eurostar train to Paris, toasting the start of this memorable journey with complimentary champagne and Business Premier’s signature 3-course lunch, designed by Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc OBE.
Our arrival in Paris was unavoidably delayed by a minor technical failure, however we were soon rewarded as our evening was spent enjoying dinner at Gare Du Lyon’s immaculately renovated Le Train Bleu restaurant. Originally opened in 1901, the restaurant’s exquisite interior is still a sight to behold and our food certainly lived up to the opulence of the setting!
The following morning we took the 07:23 TGV to Basel, where we boarded the luxurious Prestige Continental Express to Landquart via Zurich Airport, where our last four passengers joined us. Listening to the dulcet sounds of the pianist over lunch we arrived at Chur where we transferred to the narrow gauge Glacier & Bernina Pullman Express for the trip up to St Moritz ready to commence our magnificent journey.
Our introduction to Spectacular Switzerland
Imagine waking up to this view each morning! We were fortunate on several occasions to have such clear, brilliant blue skies to greet us as we opened our hotel room curtains, highlighting the sheer beauty of the Matterhorn and Jungfrau mountains.
A unique combination of historic locomotives and luxury trains
The sunny weather continued throughout the tour too, complementing the extraordinary scenic railways we journeyed on, starting with the Switzerland’s famous Bernina Line to Tirano. Relaxing in the opulent surrounds of the Glacier & Bernina Pullman Express, we were hauled from the quaint station of Poschiavo to Tirano, Italy by a historic Bernina ‘Crocodil’ electric locomotive built in 1928 (pictured below). Travelling across the famous Brusio spiral viaduct and through spectacular scenery, we arrived in Tirano where we enjoyed a sumptuous lunch at the nearby La Gatta winery before retracing our steps back to St. Moritz.
The first of our steam specials operated on the Dampfbahn Furka-Bergstrecke (Furka Cogwheel Steam Railway), a partial rack and pinion-operated heritage line across the Furka Pass (pictured above). Despite the odd drop of rain in the morning, nothing could take the shine off travelling on one of the world’s most beautiful mountain passes! Later that day our group (pictured above) took the modern Glacier Express train to Zermatt where we were to stay at the Hotel National for two nights, overlooking the magnificent Matterhorn Mountain.
All hotel rooms at the Hotel National are blessed with beautiful views of the Matterhorn, so what a treat it was to wake up to! This morning we took the scenic Gornegrat railway from outside the hotel to a striking height of 3,135 metres, where we were treated to a VIP reception by the management of the Matterhorn-Gotthard Bahn, against a breathtaking backdrop! We then descended half way to Riffealp station, in order to take the historic tramway to the famous Riffealp Resort where we enjoyed a traditional raclette lunch in yet another remarkable location.
One of the most scenic steam rail experiences we encountered during the trip was the Brienzer-Rothorn Steam Rack Railway (pictured above). Admiring the sensational views over Interlaken, Lake Brienz and Lake Thun we climbed Switzerland’s fourth highest railway in private vintage rail cars, hauled by one of the railway’s original locomotives dating back to 1891. Thankfully these spectacular scenes did not end there as following our descent we boarded the historic, 1914 SS Lötschberg paddle steamer for our cruise back to Interlaken where we spent another night at the superb Hotel Victoria Jungfrau and Spa, perfectly located at the foot of Jungfrau.
Sadly, all good tours must come to an end, but what better way to celebrate than with a signature Golden Eagle farewell dinner aboard the Prestige Continental Express. Dining in their opulent restaurant cars we toasted the magnificent memories we had shared together over the last 10 days as we travelled on Switzerland’s most exquisite and historic trains and witnessed some of the country’s incredible mountain landscapes.