This is day 2 of our 3 day mini tour of Switzerland. If you landed on this post first I recommend you to go back and read Day 1 first. The tour was designed for my friend Cara who visited me from the United States but is good for anyone who has only a few days to explore this fantastic country.
Day 2 - Tuesday
The best part about staying overnight in the mountains is waking up in the mountains! The Jugendherberge Brienz (Brienz Youth Hostel) overnight stay includes breakfast. Breakfast includes coffee, juice, bread, cereal, jams, cheese, meat, hot chocolate and tea. We started with breakfast at 7:30 and were on our way by foot to the Brienz Rothorn Bahn (train station) by 7:50.
It chugs, steams, screeches and smokes: Switzerland's only daily steam rack railway has thrilled passengers since 1892.
The Brienz Rothorn Bahn is a steam-powered engine train that takes you up to the peak of the Rothorn mountain. The website states that you should be at the station 30 minutes early. Our train departed at 8:36, we arrived to the station at 8:10 and there were already quite some people on the train.
Mountain train rides always take some time but the ride is definitely part of the fun. This is a cog-wheel train (you can see the special tracks in one of the photos) so the train has to be pushed up the mountain, which is why it takes a bit of time. During the hour it takes to reach the top the way the scenery changes again and again. With each bend a new panorama view comes into focus. There is a stop about half way up to refill the steam engine with water and to catch or release some hikers.
Once on the top you need to only hike for 15-20 minutes to get to the peak and have really fantastic views into the alps and even all the way to the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) in Germany. You can spend the whole day up there (and I recommend that) but for us we had to take the next train down at 11:15. We still had plenty of time to take lots of pictures, stare at the beauty and even get a cup of coffee. You can also stay up on the Rothorn at the hotel!
The train runs 8 times up and down daily starting at 8:36 from June to October. The have a limited schedule in May and November. The days change annually so check out their website for specific details, along with pictures, prices and hotel booking options.
Once we arrived back in Brienz, we took the 12:37 train with the end destination Montreaux. There are several different connections to get to Montreaux but we specifically wanted to take the Golden Pass Panorama train. If you have the SBB Swiss Pass or a day pass then this train ride is included. However, during high tourist times it's recommended to reserve a seat. Unfortunately, this process of reserving a seat is not so straight forward. We eventually purchased our seat reservations on the MOB website and had a PDF sent via email to show the conductor. The train ride was a nice reprieve from the heat and provided a great panorama ride through the alps.
The train was relatively empty so we spread out to have better views of the mountains.
In Montreaux we caught the bus to Château de Chillon arriving around 16:45 (4:45pm). The castle is open until 19:00 (7:00pm) so we had approximately 2 hours to explore. You can really spend a whole day at the castle because it's quite large and they do a great job with the temporary exhibitions.
Before you go, download the tour guide app for the Château. It costs a couple bucks or you can rent an audio guide when you arrive. On this visit, given the reduced time, we decided that Jay should be our tour guide! He's great with history and in describing how the castle works
After the visit to the castle we took the bus back towards Montreaux to Territet, L'Eaudine. A short 5 minute walk towards the river brought us to Jugendherberge Montreux (Youth Hostel). The gentleman at the reception was hilarious and very friendly. We booked a 4 bed room, and to our great surprise and delight it came with a private bathroom! It was very hot so we each took a nice shower and then headed out to a Thai restaurant, Chez Chorm, just 2 minutes away.
The Thai place was good, but not cheap. That is one thing you have to get used to while traveling in Switzerland, food is not cheap, especially in a restaurant. If you want to travel on the cheap I suggest frequent visits to the grocery store, either Coop or Migros, to get pre-made salads, sandwiches, yogurt, muesli etc. You can buy a nice lunch for 10CHF vs 25CHF, and eat it in the park!
For the second day in a row we fell into a deep sleep with full bellies.
To read about Day 3, continue here.
What part of this day did you like the most? Leave me a comment below, I love reading them!