Off to Montreux
The weather gods aren’t entirely on our side this Wednesday morning. But the good thing is that we’ll be spending most of our journey on the train. We, Katrina (some of you may already know me) and Ricarda, set off towards Spiez and our destination is Montreux.
In Spiez, we board the GPX , a world first among trains. This train has only been in operation since the timetable change in 2022 and is the first train in the world able to switch from metre to standard gauge.
A world first awaits us
Mani tells us exactly how this works. He joins us on board in Zweisimmen and has been with MOB for 43 years. If anyone knows about these trains, it’s him. Zweisimmen is the railway station where the rail width becomes narrower and this new technology comes into play. Besides Mani, we’re joined by Céline, MOB’s social media manager.
We have the honour of travelling in Prestige Class – first class is nothing in comparison.
We’re on the GoldenPass Line and have the pleasure of testing the cheese train, an experience that was created over 30 years ago and is still very popular with young and old today – and rightly so.
((Infobox)) The experience can be booked from 4 January to 29 October and takes place every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. You can either start from Montreux or Interlaken.
After Mani explains how this new technology works, the train starts moving and in a few seconds the train lifts up and we’re on the metre gauge. AMAZING!!!
In the past, all passengers travelling on the GoldenPass Line from Interlaken to Montreux had to change in Zweisimmen. Thanks to this invention, this time is drawing to a close.
Those travelling in Prestige Class receive a small plate featuring various meats and cheeses from the region as well as a drink of their choice. It’s important to reserve your seat in advance. Of course, you can also travel in 1st or 2nd class – where you don’t need a reservation and your GA Travelcard is valid.
Next stop: Chateau d’Oex – fondue chalet
We pass forests, meadows and mountains – fantastic views and quintessential Switzerland. The train stops in Chateau d’Oex – home to one of the Swiss Youth Hostels’ group hostels. But we have other plans. We’re on the cheese train after all. As soon as we get off the train, we notice the quaint train station.
We learn that this is the most beautiful transfer point in Switzerland. The town has received a special prize for this – it’s amazing what prizes are awarded. We all agree that the station definitely deserves the award.
We walk a bit to a small chalet, which is thankfully warm, as we’re now wet due to some rain
When we enter the chalet, we’re astonished to see a man stirring milk in a giant kettle – you must all assume that he is making cheese. He explains his craft to us, and we have the opportunity to give it a whirl ourselves – stirring the kettle can be quite strenuous. It’s almost time for some food – and what else could it be? A fine cheese fondue.
Ricarda and I were surprised when they put the bread on the table. It’s slices and not cubes. I ask Mani if they were too lazy to cut it into cubes or if we can expect a salad to go along: He laughs and explains that we German-speaking Swiss are lazy. In French-speaking Switzerland, it’s normal for bread to be sliced with fondue. The fondue is excellent and we’re all glad it isn’t 30 degrees Celsius. If you wish, you can stock up on regional cheese in the small shop, which is also part of the chalet.
A visit to the Musée du Pays-d’Enhaut, steeped in history
Our journey continues. In addition to the chalet, a visit to the museum is part of the experience. You can choose between the two museums “Espace Ballon” and “Musée du Pays-d’Enhaut.” As the one of them is being renovated, we’re left with Musée du Pays-d’Enhaut.
Did you know that paper cutting was invented in Chateau d’Oex? No? Neither did we, but now we do and are fascinated by this delicate craft. Besides beautiful silhouettes, there’s a lot of talk about the town and the craft of yesteryear. We’re in luck – Mani is a great guide, telling us exciting stories about his grandparents and himself.
Mystical train journey along Lake Geneva
After the history lesson, it’s time to set forth on our journey. Our destination is Montreux after all. The journey continues through the beautiful countryside past cows. We pass the «Röstigraben» – the German/French language border – and are now in French-speaking Switzerland.
Thanks to our travel companion, we always know when to pull out our camera to take the best shots of Lake Geneva. Even though the weather doesn’t necessarily cooperate, and it looks a little mystical, it’s an impressive ride. The train winds its way down towards Montreux and the lake switches sides several times, allowing all passengers to marvel at the beautiful and impressive views.
Once in Montreux, we say goodbye to the two guides and board the bus, which stops not far from our youth hostel after eight minutes. Hostel Manager Lucas and XY welcome us to the hostel.
As you may know, I was already here two years ago. However, the building has now undergone renovations and is shining in new splendour. I’m impressed.
We check into our room and head towards town. We end the evening with a nice pasta dish and fall into bed tired but happy. Our journey isn’t over yet. Tomorrow, our next train adventure awaits us.