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Switzerland - Alpine Tour

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St. Moritz, Switzerland

Zurich to St. Moritz Thursday, September 15, 2005
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Amsterdam to Zurich Airport

Rail Info

After a short flight from Amsterdam to Zurich, we went to the lower level of the airport to get our SwissPass stamped. It's a fast procedure that allows you to use your pass on just about any train in Switzerland. It's a great idea and fantastic to use. The pass allowed us 15 days of unrestricted travel on trains and buses anywhere in Switzerland, on the Swiss rail system. There are private rail routes, but this covers pretty much all of the country.

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Movie - Swiss - Day 01 - Cable Car Departing

Zurich to St. Moritz

Train Station at Zurich

The train departed the airport and stopped at downtown Zurich. The train station here is just massive. It has to be one of the larger stations in Europe. We had a schedule printed out at the airport for which trains to get on, but it wasn't really clear at the station, so after asked a few people, we just barely got on the train before it departed the station. The trains here are very frequent, so if you miss one, you may have to wait 30 minutes before getting the next city train.

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Movie - Swiss - Day 01 - Cable Car Departing Station

Enroute

Enroute to St. Moritz

We had a fast train to Chur, which was great. It was virtually empty. I purchased first class tickets for the Swiss Pass, and the train was very clean and comfortable. This is the first time I've traveled on a modern European train, and it was great. If we only had a rail system like that in the USA, people would take the train everywhere. The car we were in was a two-level tilt train. On the corners, the train actually titled a bit into the curve making the ride smoother. After the train departs the station, a ticket master will journey through the interconnected cards to check tickets, passes, or you can pay them directly.

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Movie - Swiss - Day 01 - Cable Car Mid Travel

Chur to St. Moritz

St. Moritz

The landscape from Zurich to Chur started flat, but the hills turned into mountains very fast. The rail passes beautiful lakes enroute to Chur. It helped that it was a beautiful sunny day on our arrival. The train has a mobile snack bar that ventures from car to car. We bought some sandwiches, sodas and Gummy Bears. I never knew this but the bathrooms on trains empty directly to the track below. The first time you pop the lid on the toilet, you can actually see the track whizzing by below. It's a bit disconcerting at first, but you get used to it. Never use the toilets in train stations - use the public facilities at the station.

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Movie - Swiss - Day 01 - Cable Car Passing

St. Moritz

St. Moritz

The train goes through incredibly beautiful scenery on the way to St. Moritz, including over spectacular bridges and through deep valleys. Switzerland is still green in September, except for the high alpine region that still has snow. We arrived into the station at St. Moritz, which is built partially on a steep hill overlooking a lake. We departed the train, and hiked the paved walkway by the lake to the Dorf side of town, where our hotel was.

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Movie - Swiss - Day 01 - Cogwheel Train Going Up

St. Moritz in September

Cogwheel up to Piz Nair

St. Moritz is fairly quiet in September, which is the off season for the winter town. St. Moritz is known worldwide for its previous Winter Olympics, and where the jetset go in the ski season. Off-season, there is a beautiful lake and miles of fantastic hiking trails.

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Movie - Swiss - Day 01 - Cogwheel Train Up

Hotel Nolda

Piz Nair

We arrived in St. Moritz around 2:00 p.m. and took the 2 k.m. walk to the hotel in the Dorf side of town. The Hotel Nolda is a quaint old hotel that has had a few renovations, which made it acceptable. It was a bit too cramped for me, but it worked for a few nights. After checking in, we grabbed the taxi ($20 CHF) to the Piz Nair rail station. Piz Nair is the tallest peak which overlooks St. Moritz.

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Movie - Swiss - Day 01 - Cogwheel Train Venturing Up

Up to Piz Nair

Piz Nair

The price to visit the peak via cogwheel and cable car is about $32 CHF. You travel a multi-stop transportation system to the top starting with a steep cogwheel, funicular, and then to a cable car. The slope is at times more than 45 degrees.

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Movie - Swiss - Day 01 - Rail View

Piz Nair

Piz Nair

There are three transfers to the top. This is a must-see in St. Moritz, the views of the valley and surrounding peaks are spectacular.

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Movie - Swiss - Day 01 - Piz Nair Pan of View

Piz Nair - Peak

Piz Nair

Bring something warm to wear, it's a great deal cooler higher in elevation. The temperature drops anywhere from 30-40 degrees from the valley on a warm fall day. From the top, you can barely see the Matterhorn in the far distance. There is a restaurant-bar at the top, but the last lift up is around 4:30 p.m. in the afternoon. We were only able to stay for a few minutes before the last cable car down was departing - around 4:50 p.m.

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Movie - Swiss - Day 01 - Piz Nair Top

St. Moritz

Fondue in St. Moritz

On our way down from Piz Nair, we met some hikers that joined us halfway down. They looked like seasoned hikers, and had trekking poles (walking sticks) so I inquired about St. Moritz, the altitude and their poles. They highly recommended the trekking poles. They also said that the higher altitude of St. Moritz causes sleeplessness. I could already feel the effects of the altitude there. It takes days to acclimate to higher altitudes when you come from sea level.

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Movie - Swiss - Day 01 - Swiss Train Toilet to Track

Shopping and Fondue

Piz Nair Ticket

After we departed the rail system from Piz Nair, which is directly downtown in St. Moritz, we did some shopping (food, water and Swiss Chocolate) and then stopped at a local outdoor restaurant for some fondue. The warm, creamy fondue was perfect for the early evening chill. St. Moritz is pricey - we paid $30 CHF (each) for the fondue at Sterhaus.

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Movie - Swiss - Day 01 - Cogwheel Train Venturing Up

Back to Hotel Nolda

Dinner Bill

We took the city bus back to Hotel Nolda which was a deal at $2.50 CHF compared to the taxi. I never did ask because I wanted to use the Swiss coinage (to get rid of it on the bus fare), but I probably could have used the SwissPass.

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Additional Photographs: Zurich to St. Moritz

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