About 10 years ago, I started doing research on visiting Switzerland and discovered one of the most scenic and iconic train routes in the world, The Glacier Express. I instantly became obsessed and knew without a doubt, when I finally made it to the Alpine Region that this was going on my itinerary. Though it was a long time coming, I finally got to ride the Glacier Express train route in May this year. See, dreams do come true!
The Glacier Express train route travels between the ritzy ski resort towns of St. Moritz and Zermatt in Switzerland. I actually picked up the train in the town of Chur, as part of a Globus organized tour of the Alpine Region of Europe. Luckily, my journey through the Swiss Alps was a first class ticket that included lunch, which was of course, the part of the trip that I was nervous about. The typical, “will the train table be so close that I cannot sit comfortably, much less eat a meal?”. Not all seats on the train include a meal, therefore I figured if the seats with tables didn’t work I’d downgrade myself and sit in a standard train seat and skip lunch.
If you’re fortunate enough to be doing to the first class car, do try to arrive early for the train. There are tables for two on side of the train with the superior views and tables for 4 on the opposite side. The viewing windows, however, are panorama windows, so no matter where you sit, you’ll see fine. Personally, however, I hate making chitter chatter over meals with strangers and always prefer a private table. I suppose it depends on the person, so if you’ve been born with the gift for gab, you might enjoy a table for 4. It is my job to talk all day to strangers on vacation, so when I’m on mine I can be on the quiet side.
Luckily, we scored a private table for two for the journey, and even luckier, the table were adjustable!! Below is a picture, where you can see that the tables can be made smaller for when the meal is over, however, they let me eat with the table folded back and all was right as rain.
There were a couple of other fluffy guests on the train that did the same thing, so I doubt anyone would feel singled out to have lunch this way. The meal, by the way, was amazing just by itself, but throw in the magnificent views and I was in pure heaven. There is a commentary that can be listened to via a headset, but most people stopped listening after a while.
For anyone who sees the word “express” and thinks this train is going to be high speed, you can fah-geda-boudit. This is a slow moving train, the route specifically designed for maximum views and the trip is very leisurely. It’s about the journey – and not the destination, so if you’re in a hurry I’d chose an alternate train.
Switzerland has to be one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever been in. As I mentioned, we visited in May, so the majority of snow below a certain elevation had already melted. However, it was white as far as the eye could see during a portion of this trip, even in May.
GENERAL TRAIN ADVICE
I’ve done the majority of my train travel in Europe, having grown up in America where sadly, train travel is practically obsolete. I find train travel to be far superior most other modes of transportation on earth. Seats are far more comfortable that plane seats, there is almost always ample leg room and rarely is a train filled to capacity. You get to see landscapes you would completely miss on a plane and often different landscapes that can be seen by automobile. You’re also not confined to your train seat – you’re free to explore the different cars and fill an empty seat across the row for better views.
I would also encourage anyone traveling around Europe to consider over night trains. I did one once between Paris and Rome and slept like a baby thanks to the constant gentle rocking of the train. I personally have never done a Eurail Pass before – but it is definitely on my bucket list.
Also, think of train food as a huge step above plane food. The experience and the food is far more elegant than that of airplane fare. Every meal on a train is basically first class. I spent a month in Europe this year, and one of my most memorable meals was on a train between Frankfurt and Vienna.
The only thing I’ll mention is it can be difficult to bring heavy luggage on and off the train. This is due to first, the need to move quickly. The trains stop for minimal amounts of time and so you’ve got to move quickly when you’re getting in and out. Second, there are always stairs, and often they are steep, so keep that in mind. Otherwise, I highly recommend train travel as a perfect alternative for my fellow plus sized globetrotters!