Friday, December 16, 2005

OT log: Swiss Alps I visit.

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This not a trip on my bike as i was in swiss. Had to use cages if i needed to see places. so be it. The prettiest country of europe welcomes me for a self guieded tour.

Had just one weekend left at swiss before i return home and wanted to make it count. Got some info on places to visit from my Coleage Prakash. Swiss transportation is very accurate. Planned to visit pilatus and titlis the same day and arosa the next day. I stayed in lugano 250 kms south or zurich. Took printouts of the time table for the transportation. , all u need to do is give the start place and destination, and u get a detailed info of how to get there with all the changes, be it train, bus, boat or gondala. I bought swiss pass given only to forigners. with this i had unlimited travel on all the above modes. So now i have the time table and ticket with me. no need to dance in italian or german to ask for directions. First up pilatus would take some 4 hours from lugano including all the changes. And the first days schedule was to start from 5.55 am.

Day 1:
woken up by the alarm at 4.45 am. finished morning duties and by the time i was ready it was 5.45 in no time. holy smokes!! had to reach the station in 10 mins else would miss the train and loose an hour. i get down and no body's at the reception of the hotel and the main door closed. There was a note in italian!!!. i left he room keys on the table and after some R &D discovered a back exit and got out. later found out the note said in italian 'use the back door!!'. 5 mins left. with the whole nite's snowing the streets was full of it and had to walk care fully not slip. Got the cable car which takes up to the station. Requested the driver to start sayin i would miss the train, for which he obliged. Reached the station in 5.57 and punch the day's pass only to find out the train's left 2 mins back. DAAAAAMN!!. the trains and buss r always dot on time and very unforgiving especially for us used to India standard time. Had to wait for next train in the schedule a full one hour in the in the sub zero temperature. My gear included thermals inside, jeans, two jackets, a pair of wollen gloves and a pair of leather gloves over it and also a terrorist cap err.. a monkay cap. with extra pair of sox and cap in the bag just in case. I look at the time table and find a train to luzern 20 mins from then. tought i would take it so dat i would get sum time in luzern to have food while the catch up with the revised schedule. thought i was smart. it was 2 hours journey with a change of train at Arth-goldav. put an alarm for the approx time the train would reach Arth-goldav. but slept hardly. All the while fidling with the cam goin shutter happy with the views around mostly white. with the first heavy snow of the winter. for miles every thing for covered with a foot of ice. May be should have done it the previous week as it was sunny. But i haven seen so much snow in my life and exiting none the less. hit the tunnels of alps. pretty long tunnels. once out of them, the landscape there turned green. not much of snow fall here. Cos of alps the land either side of it have different weather pattern. i go shutter happy again. At one of the stations a big flock of soldiers go in. The trains are gennerally empty but if its a soldiers group on the move and the whole train gets filled up. Some soldiers ask my permission to take the 3 empty seats next to me. Havent heard of such politeness back home. Sure wohav. Reach arth-goldav and have 4 mins to change train for luzern. i run up and donw platforms and make it to the train. Nearing luzern i see the i am closing in on the next hours schedule and may even mess it up. thought i saved some time but the train i picked will arrive later than the next train.!!! reach luzern 9.45 instead of the 9:38 with Trolly bus departing luzern staion at 9:48 n din know wat a trolly bus was. damn i though i out smarted the system. i run through the ppl and reach the bus stand n after enquiry i find the trolly bus ready on the other side of the road, but can go there can i had to go through sub way by dat time trolly bus had left. Damn i even missed the next hours schedule. The next bus is 7 mins from then but i would miss the next connection for pilatus. Trolly bus is a normal bus with the power drawn from the cable above. there is wait for the next bus. off the all the punctuality the next bus turns up 2 mins late. Thought i missed the first of the 2 gondalas to pilatus kulm. Look around the pretty city luzern while i go in the bus. 10 mins and ma stop comes promptly announced. i get down. schedule says the first gondala at 10.12 and 15 mins walk from the stop. its 10.05 and i just got there. :( ask for directions and hurry towards the pilatus gongala station. reach there by 10.15 thinkin i missed it, but only to find out that the small gondalas keep movin up an down continuesly. OK i get the ticket, 50% discount for forigner with swiss pass :) so its 29 francks. i how on to the gondala capable of carrying 6 ppls. but now only me. the door closes and its half an hour ride in it to the next change. withing in seconds i am soring above the houses and streets of luzern. goin click happy. whether though a bit dull but still bright enough. i see whites again below. and find ppl below in snow war games. Carry the camera in my waist pouch. take some pix and VDOs and sum self potraits. goin higher i start gettin the view of the mejestic blueish alps. Stayin in india could not visit the himalayas but now am touring around alps. The godala ride had stations tooo!. i get down at my station. only to find the next gondala gone 5 mins back. missed it cos i missed the first trolly bus. now i have to wait 15 mins for the next one.

have not had any thing since morning and find a lonly restraunt there. din have patience to go there and enquire for edible food for a veggi indian. Time for the next gondala, a big one this time accompannied by some chinise gyes. this one climbed more steep. with every second giving breath takin views. would have been much more scenic in autoum. 12 mins and reach the pilatus klum summit. With most of the activites closed there for winter. even the world's cog wheel train was closed for winter else could have taken it on the way back. i go out side the door of the building and the view just hits me. and so does the cold must be around -5 or so. And i finally walk on show i removed my gloves to feel the snow in my hand. seems powdery but can feel much as my fingures were already numb. Alps every where cowered with bluish white blanket. reqest the chinese to take a couple of my pix. put the monkey cap on immediatly hehe. stroll for sum time and find my foot goin numb as the shoes i was wearing was thin. Head back to the gondala to find the 11.17 one gone. there i go again messed the schedule. have a high altitude coffee waiting for the next one. Catch the last glimse of the pilatus view and get on to the gondala. ten mins am at the mid station. roam around a bit. looking at the props of summer sports and stroll around ton the snow. enjoing the sinkin of my foot in the snow. see kids goin done the slops with the snow cars. sum more pix and there i lost sense of time and wasted more. Get in to the gondala to luzern. Hog on a chocolate and walk to catch the trolly bus again to luzern. Now next on the itenarary is titlis. unsure of wheter i could make it carry on any way cos there may not be next time. Reach luzern by 12.30 and catch a bus to Hergisvil. Needa go to engle berg for mount titlis. look at the clean city enroute hergiswil. reach there ay 1.00pm to find out the train to englbe berg left at 12.35 and next one is at 1.35. the schedules meant business. wait in the station for the train. only to find out will have change for a bus at dollenvin cos the track for blocked with snow. so be it. Got on the yellow post bus, biggst bus service in swiss. enjoy twisty bus ride to engle berg. all the while missing my bike on there pretty roads. enjoyin the swiss country side along. Reach engle berg at 2.45 and may be i can still make it to the titlis by 3.30. i ask a couble of old men for the directions for the titlis gondalas, for which they offered me a ride in their car till half way. with my stupidity at peak accepted dat a car could go to a place where gondalas are installed. but these old gyes were skiing so though they know the place around. n after 10 mins they stop in front of the hotel and say here u r. here u r wat??? when i said titlis they heard therasis or sumthing thinkin i needed to go there. well thanked them for nothing and had to catch a cable car to go to the engleberg station again. threre goes 15 mins time. i get on a cable car and wait for it to move, only to read after 5 mins dat it was a automated cable car and we need to press a button for it to move. now who could have known dat. go done town to the staion and go towards the titlis gondalas. see many ppl coming back after the skii sessions. hmmm... may be i am tooo late. all i wanted was to play in show on the mountains and prolly get some pix of me on the skiis. 3.30 till i reach the ticket counter and they siad not enough time to go and come back all the way. so i bought tickets for half way till thrubsee and come back. This was again a small gondala with sum 20 mins ride up. by now the batteries had gone down. so i got to be choosy of the pix i take for rest of the day. Reach thrubsee and stroll outside on the snow, regrettin to have messes up the schedule and not able to go all the way to titlis. But just watch skii enthusiasts havin fun on the skiis, snow boards, and skee bikes. even small kids were skiiing from all the way. pretty cold and gettin dark now.

Time to head back. stand in the queue for the gondala to go donw. n i am the only one in the cround without skiiing gear :). Buy the famous swiss cow bell as a suvaniar for my visit to swiss. Bus to dollenvil at 5.15 and get there in time. i find a elderly gye there again, whome i had met in train. he surprised at me goin back the same day and catch on a conversation. He pretty suprised at knowing my hectic itenarary all in the day. He was german retired school teacher. We exchange thoughts. he explaining me as how difficult it is to get a swiss citizen ship and a bit philosophy :D. Also said he felt a bit ashamed at the source of prosperity of swiss, all the infrastructure n all in place due the the swiss bank accounts where money is stored with no questions asked. we chat till we reach luzern again aby 6.30 and bid farewell to the gye heading towards bern. i had sum 50 mins time for the train to lugan at 7.28. there i go out side the station and walk on the famous wooden foot bridge on teh lake of luzern. Find a trip playin musical instruments and was quite enjoyable. walk through the evening streets of luzern and come back to the station for my train. the station itself is so pretty n clean. The trains starts and head to Arth - goldav for my next change. Reach there and hop platforms to the find the Chisalpina train already there. Was one awsome train. Get in and train start to move only find nobody else changed to this train. This train being so good, me starts thinkin wheather the ticket i got would do on this one. will soon find out once the TC comes. He comes and its ok, i breath sigh. I again put a alarm at time the train will be at lugano cos if i fall asleep the train would continue to milan n don have visa to itali hehe. THis ride was cool, as it was one of the few tilting trains. goes much faster cos on this on the curves. guess this is the only other vehicle which tilts inwards to the curve other than bike. Takin a vdo no use at was dark outside the tilt will not be noticed. But was a nice ride for my tired and cold self. N i realised i din have anything dat day except a chocklete n a coffee. This gets me hungry. The trains are warm any way with heaters on. catch up with some sleep in this nice ride. 9:45 reach lugano as planned, but missed out the titlis summit. Now i walk through the meandering streets of lugano to reach down town lugano to my pretty lake view hotel. i see earth mover and trucks clearing the ice on the streets. reach my room and have the ready to eat 'Bisi bele bath' dat i brought from home. and have a good night's sleep still pretty unsure as to whether to visit Arosa the next day.

Day 2:
Get up pretty late tired from the previous days outing. Still thinkin arosa or not. Have a lazy break fast at the hotel till 8.50 and suddenly decided lets hit arosa. Train was at 9.55. Had to be carefull not to miss any of the connections else could not come back the same day. Again took printouts for schedule for arosa and back. Reach the station and buy extra batteries. The train dot on time. Today not as sunny but would do really. Reach bellinzona 10.20 and Yellos post bus to Khur already for me. I get in but not before running the length of the station lookin for hidden rest rooms :D. This is goin to be 2 hours by bus followed by a train from khur to arosa. The bus all nice and warm, pic my seat enjoy the white view around. Every things under snow. Would have been greener a week back. pass many towns. great roads all the while missing my bike. take a some pix of the twisties of swiss alps. how i wanted to race on them. Could see many bridges afar and in some time we do be goin on it. Now see that the kids snow war games have started in the towns, with shields and all. All the pretty houses covered in snow. Cross the alps under some real long tunnels. Same as yesterday the wheather is diff the other side. sum of the tunnels have wals on one side and open on other side with roof, to prevent the debri from rolling down on to the road. Reached khur by 12.45. I get down to the Station below to find the small colour full train almost out side the station. Guess not many forigners to this place so kinda get the forigners stare entering the train. Pic my seat and wait for the train to leave. To my surprice the train takes a turn towards the town. Yeah this train goes through the city streets for sum time. even stopping for traffice signals. also comes with stop on requests. The announcements are made in english too. This will be a slow 45 minite ride. But little did i know of the treat for me. This train climbs 1200 meters by the end of the ride. Travellin always on a upward angle with many sharp turn on the hillside. Could here the metal rubbing all the while in the turns. The views gettin bettor and bettor. Pass through many tunnels and still keep climbing. Once again i go shutter happy. There comes some stations with just one small house. Enjoying every moment of the ride. Now the temp outside also looks colder. But as we went up was thinkin wheather i do see some action above. being such remotely located thought not many ppl would be there what would i do all alone in a sleepy town. Cant go back now. Carry on. Reach arosa by 1.45 and how wrong was i. There were loads of ppl and is a pretty big town like engle berg. Lots of colors on the white snow. walk around a bit. Really cold now.

Could see ppl goin up on skii chairs and and sum skiing down. Thougt would just go on the chairs and come back on them any way. But there was Gondala to tooo. So i bought the tickets for all the way up to the summit Wessinhorn. Was enquiring the girl at the counter as the which would be a good place to watch skiiing. With German english, couldnt help much. Now i go this gondala. Damn its big one. it could carry 165 ppl at a time. Now here comes the operator a pretty girl. Again i ask bout the info of the place. But she was blushing with helpless ness not knowing english. Ok no progs. Up we go to on the mountain. Lots of skiiing happennin below. how i wish i could skee but, just had 2 hours not enough time to learn it let alone do it. Reach the first pit stop in the middle. When out side for a stroll in the snow. There was a hotel in open air. of course with a roof. but with no walls around at temp of -5!! so cold dat i din feel like eating anything. I here the Bell ring and its time for the next gondala to wessinhorn all the way to the top. Getting much colder and all the gear make not much effect. my hand goin numb inside 2 pairs of gloves. Could see small blizzards around. But still see ppl goin on the cable chairs for the skeeing start point. Dunno how these ppl withstand such cold. as we go higher could see many skeeing trails from above each with its own cable chairs for the skiiers. Reached the summit and it was around -10 to -12 degrees temperature. There was a panorama hotel all nice and warm. But had to go back soon not the miss the schedule. Just look around in the cold. get some pix. My nose went numb for time i removed the monkey cap for the pix. Look at the alpine panorama around for sum time. ok enough i go down the next gondala. Reach the mid station and again go out for a stroll. See sum gye rentin out skiis and requested him to take sum of my poser pix on the skiis. for he gladly obliged and took em. Not much a fotographer but would serve as good suvaneers. Just watching at ppl having fun on the snow. i could see sum old men wearing nothing on the head in the subzero temperatures and skiiing too. Before i know its 4 pm and the last gondala to the town below. else would have needed to walk on the snow all the way down, which i was hardly willing cos of the cold. Funny all my life i was waiting for a chance to play in the snow and when could i hardly felt to do of the cold. Hurry to the last gondala ride and down to the towns station.

4.48 trains already there and i have half an hours time. Not much a place for shoppin so got into the warm train and picked a nice place. n within no time the train was full. A lady with her 2 kids and puppy joined my cubicle(if u call dat). now could be a boring ride cos its already dark and nothing much to see. One bridge was lined up with lights in the night and when a take a turn we could see the bridge decorated with the lights. take some pix. Reach khur station 6 o clock and got my post bus to bellinzona at 6.18. Gettin fast to pic the front seat. Here we go back. now the wheather turning bad and the roads at places covered with ice. It was an old gye driving. taking sharp turn as if all good. me like use the breaks doood. guess he is pretty used to the conditions driving many seasons. Sum wind picing up and could see the snow blow like dust on the road. Was nice to watch it all warm inside. With all the adverse conditions the bus was late only by 5 mins. I catch a train to lugano. Am at lugano by 9.45. Lazyly walk through the streets goin down to the down town. OK here ends my travell in swiss. 2 days and i will be heading home. Have a nice satisfies warm sleep.