AAA Traveler - Holiday 2019 - 28

SWITZERLAND'S

GLACIER
Express
By Maria Lenhart

It may not be the most expedient train journey in the
world, but Switzerland's Glacier Express is undeniably among
the most breathtaking and, particularly for those who spring
for Excellence Class, delicious. It's often called the "slowest
express train in the world" and, as anyone who's experienced
the astonishing vistas from the crimson cars meandering
through the heart of the Swiss Alps will tell you, that's a
superlative worth having.

Along with scenic wonders, the train, which began service in
1930, also showcases amazing feats of engineering as it traverses
291 bridges and 91 tunnels carved deep into the mountainsides.
Leaving Zermatt, where the iconic Matterhorn with its
dramatic fin-shaped peak casts an arresting silhouette against
the sky, the train heads through the stunning Matter Valley,
a deep, sometimes narrow valley set beneath mountains over
14,000 feet, the highest in the Swiss Alps.

THE ROUTE
The Glacier Express runs for 180 miles between the famous
resort towns of Zermatt and St. Moritz, making stops in Brig,
Andermatt, Disentis, Chur, Filisur and others along the way
as it crosses through the three Swiss cantons of Valais, Uri and
Graubunden. Passengers can make the nearly eight-hour trip
in either direction. It's also possible to exit the Glacier Express
before the end of the trip, spending time in destinations along
the route and continuing on by local trains.
But with its panoramic windows framing a mesmerizing
variety of chalet-studded meadows, ice-blue glacial rivers
and snow-capped grandeur, cutting short any time on
the Glacier Express may be hard to do.

Dropping more than 3,000 feet in elevation before
arriving in Brig, the train continues on through the
Upper Rhone River Valley to Andermatt.
Then comes the thrilling ascent up the Oberalp Pass, the
highest point of the journey at 6,706 feet and near where the
Rhine River has its origin. While the often snow-covered
pass is closed to car traffic in winter, the Glacier Express
navigates its forbidding terrain year-round.
Descending from Oberalp, the Glacier Express enters the
Rhine Gorge, often called the Swiss Grand Canyon. The
aptness of this moniker becomes apparent as the train, with
the turquoise ribbon of the river at its side, snakes through
the spectacular gorge where soaring gray-white rock
formations are bordered by deep green pine groves. More
highlights await on the final leg to St. Moritz, most notably
the remarkable Landwasser Viaduct, a soaring limestone
span of six arches high above the Landwasser River.
ON-BOARD EXPERIENCE
Along with the fascinating sights outside its windows,
the Glacier Express offers much to enjoy on the inside as
well. Designed for comfort, the cars, whether first-class or
second-class, feature huge panoramic windows and glass
skylights. In second class, seats are arranged in bays of four
around a table on each side of the aisle, while in first class
there are bays of four seats around a table on one side of the
aisle and bays of two seats across a table on the other.

28

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CALL 1-800-750-5386

CLICK AAA.COM/TRAVEL


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AAA Traveler - Holiday 2019

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