This one’s for the trainspotters amongst you…

14 Sep

going on a gondola 2 by you.

“We went up up up the mountain, it was sooo high”.  Without a doubt, the highlight of Dickon’s holiday was going on cablecars, trains and boats.  Switzerland is the perfect holiday destination for a transport mad toddler.  

DSC_0758_01We had Swiss Rail Passes, available to tourists, which gave us unlimited train travel and half price or free travel on many other forms of transport and free entry to museums.  It wasn’t cheap at just over £200 per adult for two weeks, but children go free (you normally pay for over fives) and it was great to be able to jump on trains without buying tickets.  

Dickon on the trainSwiss trains are truly amazing, clean, frequent and always on time.  The children were astounded by the superfast double-decker intercity trains, which have huge open seating areas that fitted the five of us and our bags with plenty of space left over for playing.  We also went on lots of local trains that stopped at every station, trains that ran on roads, along the main street of small towns, like trams, and narrow gauge trains that climbed slowly up the mountain on a single track with passing places at stations.  On particularly scenic routes, the carriages have huge windows and in summer some of the carriages have no roof so you can make the most of the stunning views.  

off to the bus stopWe also went in a few buses, some from one town to another and some within towns.  These were also always on time and fully integrated with the train timetable.  The Post Office runs the bus network and they have a brilliant system of mini buses that you can book to take you to a destination that isn’t popular enough to have a regular timetable.  We went to a small town 20 minutes away from where we were staying, at the time we wanted, for about £4 for the five of us.  

school bike parkThe network of cycle routes and footpaths in towns in fantastic and you can get from one side of a town to the other without cycling on a road at all and in rural areas there are also paths between towns.  These paths were usually completely away from the road, cutting through woods and along river banks, and as such, a joy to use.  Absolutely everyone cycles, from elderly ladies doing their shopping, to school children going to their class swimming lesson and young mothers with a couple of toddlers in a trailer on their way to the playground.  We also saw lots of mountain bikers, who would travel by train to the start of their trail, hanging their bikes up in the special storage carriage.

bike on the trainThe transport highlight for the children was undoubtedly the cable cars (top pic), which were a new experience for them.  We used them a few times as they were a great way to get up the mountain, and numerous marked hikes start from their stations.  The rides were an experience in themselves as we swayed gently many metres above the grazing cows, marvelling at the 360 degree views.

ferry on WalenseeOne of our loveliest days was spent at Walensee, one of the hundreds of lakes dotted across Switzerland.  After a morning swimming in the cool water, we took the ferry from one end of the lake to the other, a journey of about two hours.  The boat zigzagged along the lake , visiting towns with railway stations on the south side, and tiny villages built into the steep cliffs on the north side, one of which, Quintin, has no access by road.  It was a lovely way to complete our modes of transport collection.

Swiss public transport was so easy and pleasant that by the end of the holiday I wondered why, when planning, I had been nervous of the travelling involved in this trip.  The children took it all in their stride and we ended up using our rail passes almost every day.  I just makes you wonder, if the Swiss can get it so right, why can’t the rest of us?

Ned on the ferry, Walensee by you.

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5 Responses to “This one’s for the trainspotters amongst you…”

  1. Almost Mrs Average 14/09/2009 at 2:12 pm #

    Ooooh, what a fabulous post. Swiss transport is absolutely brilliant. During our stay this year we travelled up a mountain railway between Leysin and Aigle (close to Lake Geneva), which was not just an A to B funiculaire but dragged itself around the mountains on cogs. It even works in Winter! The Swiss really do know how to do it don’t they. Love the photos 😀

  2. Tim 15/09/2009 at 1:10 pm #

    Sorry, I just read the words ‘trains… amazing… clean… frequent…. and ‘on time’ in the same sentence. I need a lie-down!

  3. Linda 17/09/2009 at 4:01 pm #

    Hello – have given you a ‘great read’ award over at http://www.gotyourhandsfull.com and we are supposed to list 10 happy memories to go with it, which I also hoped may be up your alley.

    Loving your work!

    Linda
    x

  4. Coding Mamma 19/09/2009 at 1:14 pm #

    This holiday sounds absolutely wonderful. I lived next door to Switzerland for a year and can’t believe I didn’t experience half of this. I visited Geneva and Lac Leman, but that was it. Though I do remember being impressed by the double-decker trains.

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