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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24 thoughts on “The Golden Pass Line: Adventures in Switzerland”

  1. Thank you so much for your words and photo’s!!!! What a beautiful country. You are so brave to go this part of your trip alone. Don’t know if I would be so brave. I, like you would certainly be wishing my Paul was by my side to share this amazing experience. Between all the information you gathered about the Amish, this wonderful family who so graciously opened their home to you and these amazing photo’s I would think you could write a book!!!!!

    1. Pamela, there is an idea… writing a book about my pilgrimage. I’m thinking this is not the last time I’ll be traveling to Switzerland… and next time I hope David will be with me.

      It’s always good to hear from you, Pamela. Thank you for your comments.

  2. Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures. I’m so pleased that you were able to experience this wonderful adventure. I look forward to your upcoming blogs.

    1. Thank you for letting me know you enjoy the photos and blog post. Yes, it was a wonderful adventure, and I feel fortunate to have experienced it. Thank you for staying tuned for the next blog posts.

  3. Thank you for sharing your trip with us Saloma. Beautiful pictures. I am sure I will never leave this country to cross the ocean so it is a treat to hear from someone who has.I look forward to more.
    Michele

  4. Karen Parkin-Demmons

    What a beautiful place! Am so glad to hear you were able to visit all these wonderful places. I am also relieved you are home safely. Winter arrived late this year, and the northeast is receiving an abundance of winter weather.

    1. Karen, you have that right… we are making up for the mild first part of winter. I look forward to April, when surely we’ll be seeing signs of spring… won’t we?

      Thanks for your comments, Karen.

  5. Saloma, Your photographs are beautiful, they give me a lot of wanderlust to personally see the quaint villages and mountains of Switzerland. I was there MANY years ago while still in my teenage years, I would probably appreciate it better now that I am an adult. Since I love history I can hardly wait to read your future blogs concerning the places you reference that you will blog about later. I am glad you enjoyed yourself and had a safe trip. I know you missed David terribly, but sometimes there are some places we need to visit on our own because they are so personal that you need to feel free to ask questions and explore to your satisfaction.

    1. Jewels, thank you for your compliments on the photos. If I had gone there early on in my life, I probably would not remember it very well. Writing about these experiences helps me to preserve them.

      You are right about one thing… being alone on the trains had me reflecting a lot more than if I had been accompanied. It turned out to be a personal journey, which has its own merit. At almost any moment, I would have traded that for having David with me, though.

      Thank you for your comments, and may you get to satisfy your Wanderlust by returning to the mountains of Switzerland to make new memories.

    1. Katie, I’m not surprised. The lands where our ancestors are from. I’ve been to Germany, but I have yet to go to France. Perhaps next time.

      I hope you get a chance to travel to Europe someday. Perhaps we can go together someday…

      So good to hear from you, as always, Katie.

  6. How beautiful! (Although I must say that southeastern Alaska where I live is very much like that.) I have a Swiss friend who frequently visits Alaska- once I asked him if his home is “like Heidi”- he said, YES! It is all Heidi!

    Your photos prove it!

    I’m looking forward to more stories about your adventures.

    Elva

    1. Elva, Alaska sounds beautiful. How do you deal with the long winters and the long nights in the winter, though? I think that would get to me.

      Yes, Hadassah’s life is very much like Heidi. I agree with your friend.

  7. Yes,my section of Alaska is beautiful. High peaks snow-covered to the waterline, the Pacific ocean at my door, in the middle of the nation’s largest national forest with bracing clean air and bright stars and the frequent mystic Northern Lights- photo ops everywhere you look. As for the long winter nights, we have a lot of house parties and we make lots of music! I’ve never known a town with so many talented people- musicians and songwriters, writers, painters, all manner of festivals – it’s just a great place to live.

    But I would love to see Switzerland- keep the photos coming. :)

    Elva

    1. Elva, thanks for painting such a vivid portrait of your part of the world. So glad you have a way of getting through the winter nights. I LOVE Northern Lights! I’ll never forget how David was trying to tell me what they look like when we were driving on a cold night in Vermont, saying that it was like clouds that shimmer different colors. He looked up and realized the “clouds” WERE shimmering. He pulled over into a rest stop and we got out and watched them. Pretty cool!

      When David and I lived in Vermont, we developed “game nights” to help dispel the winter blues. They became so popular that we ended up having 4 every winter. The all-time favorite game was Dictionary (also called Fictionary or Balderdash). Having an infusion of laughter in the darkest time of winter is always a good thing.

      I hope you get to see Switzerland someday.

  8. Saloma, I so much appreciate your time in writing about Switzerland in a descriptive way that almost puts me there. When I was in elementary school, we learned about the Swiss Alps; that is the only place I remember learning about. Your sentence, “If there is a place on this earth more beautiful than the Swiss Alps, I would want to know where it is,” gave me a glimpse as to the reason I still remember my fourth grade memory.

  9. Welcome home, Saloma :) I cannot thank you enough for sharing these pictures; some made me shed a tear in wonder of how beautiful this land is!

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