Saloma Miller Furlong
Author and Speaker

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The Golden Pass Line: Adventures in Switzerland

I always thought “Home Sweet Home” was a cliche. But when I finally walked through our kitchen door, it felt like my home was giving me an embrace. My mother used to say that the best part of going on a trip was coming home. I never understood that when I was growing up, because I rarely got to travel, and when I did, it was never long enough. This time I understood exactly what Mem meant. I also thought about Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz saying, “There’s no place like home.” I would add that there is no place like home with David in it. We are enjoying each others company so much!

My plane landed in the middle of a snowstorm in Boston. I don’t know how the pilot did that, but he managed to fly our plane in safely. Then came the long wait at passport check-in. We were herded like sheep, up one aisle and down the other… I counted eighteen of them. Then I had to answer questions on an electronic devise, and have my photo taken. From there, I then had to get into another long line to have my passport stamped. It all took more than 45 minutes, when all I wanted to do was go pick up my suitcase from baggage claim and walk through the doors to see David. When I finally did, there he was! Being back in his arms was divine. It felt like so long ago that I left on this journey!

We ended up taking out a hotel room on the way home. The driving was just too treacherous. When we arrived home on Monday, we cleared out the driveway together. The snowbanks on either side of the driveway were so high, it was hard to lift our shovels above them. This was the second big snowstorm in this area in a matter of three days.

So it was a long road back. After I said good-bye to the Kochs and left the farm on Wednesday, I bought myself a Swiss Pass to ride the rails in my ancestors’ homeland. Now I could satisfy my Wanderlust by traveling anywhere in Switzerland I wanted to. And I did. Over the next several blog posts, I will write about my adventures. In this one, I will be writing about my favorite trip.

Friday I started my travels from Luzerne, on The Golden Pass Line. My plan was to take it all the way down to Montreux on Lake Geneva, but I changed my mind along the way. I will get to that later.

Photo by Saloma Furlong

When I started out from Luzerne, the weather was cloudy and misty. I took several photos anyway, but it was hard to get good ones. Just when I would get the camera focused and hit the button, the train would be zooming past a post or a tree would get in the way, or the scene would change altogether. I was able to salvage several from this part of the trip. As you can see, the grass was green in the Luzerne area.

Photo by Saloma Furlong

Photo by Saloma Furlong

As we climbed the mountain pass, I could hear the train’s extra power exerting itself. I don’t know if that was a diesel engine, or cogs, or something else, but the climb was steep, and it needed that extra power to make the climb. Below is a photo of the back of the train from my window as we were climbing. Through the tree branches, you can also see the highway far below.

Photo by Saloma Furlong

As the train climbed higher and higher into the mountains, the landscape became snowy. I felt like I was traveling back in time, as I saw the alpine villages from the train windows. I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, like a child on Chris van Allsburg’s Polar Express. If there is a place on this earth more beautiful than the Swiss Alps, I would want to know where it is.

Photo by Saloma Furlong

Once the train had climbed high above the valleys below, it began descending. The sound of the brakes were louder than the revving of the engines during the climb. I was glad those brakes were working — I would not have wanted to be on a runaway train in that mountain pass! After leaving the village of Brienz, we began following the shores of Brienzersee, with snow-covered mountains in the background. The photos do not do the beauty of this region justice.

Photo by Saloma Furlong

While we were traveling along this lake, I saw two fighter jets flying overhead. In the town of Spiez, I saw this young man with a machine gun strapped to his back. I knew that young men have a year of obligatory military service in Switzerland, and I saw several of them riding the trains. But I was really surprised to see this man carrying a military weapon in public like that, especially in a country I perceived as non-militaristic.

 

Photo by Saloma Furlong

Once the train left Spiez, we headed back up into the mountains. The photo below is the best I could do to show how the mountains rise right up from flat land, without the prelude of foothills. The only other place I ever saw anything like this is when David and I were traveling west of Calgary in Alberta, Canada to Banff on our honeymoon. We will always remember that because we were so amazed at the time.

Photo by Saloma Furlong

We were now in the Simmental Valley region. This is where I realized that we would be traveling through the village of Erlenbach. I will get into the significance of this village in another post, which will explain why I decided to forego the last leg of the trip, from Zweisimmen to Montreux.

Photo by Saloma Furlong

Below is another scene from the Simmental Valley. Everywhere I looked, there was such Beauty to behold! And the sun was shining on it all. Sometimes it was almost too much to take in. I missed David being by my side (so much!) during these moments. So I did my best to capture some of the scenes in photos to bring back with me.

Photo by Saloma Furlong

I will leave you in the Simmental Valley until my next post. Enjoy the scenery!

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