Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Rat House

Reposted from http://busdude.livejournal.com/
Today is the last day in Europe. Day started out riding the HSB http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harzer_Schmalspurbahnen. Rode up to the top of the Broken, the trains were packed being mayday weekend. Saw a nice museum with a room full of old soviet hardware which used to reside on the top of the broken http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brocken. It was neat, you could even go to the top of one of the buildings and go on the roof and see inside one of the old radar/antenna domes. really neat. Coming back down the broken we passed 3 trains that were full of tourists. most visitoers to the broken are german speaking, its kind of a hidden attraction of thiers. The mountain is a national park and rivals mt rainier for beauty. After coming back to Wernigrode we took an Regional train back to Hannover, after of course buying some more DVDs at the local kiosk/general merchandisers in the train station. This makes 14 DVDs bought on this trip. some in NTSC but most in PAL, which i can watch on the computer. Although i may have to hook up an old DVD drive to my PC and set it for a diffrent region to play the DVDs well.. Got back to Hannover, checked in at the hotel and my Tmobile wi-fi 30 day pass which i only paid 30 euro's for worked like a charm (was hoping it would, so i can get my moneys worth out of it), and went and rode some of the local tramlines and had pizza at pizza hut. Never saw any in switzerland, but saw a few in germany. The food quality is about the same as in the US, however they do not have a "thin" crust as we know it. also their pepperoni is known as salami as it usually is in germany. I think if i ordered a salmi supereme pizza from my local PH they would think i have gone flippo and ordered something diffrent, than wonder wtf salami is when in reality it is what we know as pepperoni.

Tommorw is the flight home. Hopefully should be back to seattle before my dinner time at ten oclock, or atleast thats the hope. Hopefully wont encounter too many problems with a 9 hour flight back to the US, than all the hostilities involved with re-entering your own country. Lots of time on an airplane thats for sure :-( Even though the train may be slower, its a much much much more civilized way to travel, even if you are crammed in a compartment with 4 other people you dont know and who are not speaking your language.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Matterhorn

Reposted from http://busdude.livejournal.com/

Today was the last formal day of the tour, and we went to the matterhorn. First we took a SBB train to Spiez, using old Co-Rail equipment, than a ride to Visp over the new tunnel route which is a base tunnel under the alps. Afterwards we went to transfer to the train to Zermatt. Only problem with that was we had to take a bus to St. Nicholas, since the line was severed with a rock slide that morning. The buses were very crowded. The rest of line was very scenic, and very covered in fresh snow, so much so that when i got to Zermatt, i had to go to the Kiosk and bought a pair of sunglasses. After that we got on the train to Gornergrat. It was a narrow guage line up the hill to a viewing post to see the matterhorn, plus shop and eat and the like. The line was very scenic, lots of snow there. the matterhorn was out, not sourrounded by clouds and infront of a beautiful blue sky. I did visit the shops there, and purchased a 16GB Swiss Army Pen knife, not only does it have a flashlight, USB stick, cisssors, screwdriver, pen its also really really nifty. After that we came back down, had to take the bus, and back the way we came. I will post pictures in a few days, probally on flickr or some such so all in sundry can see them. Tommorw is heading for germany, than a ride on the hartz mountain railroad, than home. This trip has gone by fast.

Mayday

Reposted from http://busdude.livejournal.com/

Spent the day travelling from Interlaken to Wernigrode. Only staying one night in Wernigrode, which is a nice german town with a large car-less plaza. The ride up was relativly uneventful, although i did ride on a very full ICE Train from Basil to Hannover, than a local train with a DMU (yes, rode my first non electric train today) from Hannover to Wernigrode. The train from Interlaken to Basil was a typical SBB RE train, with added corail cars on the front for added capasity. the ICE train was very full with the mayday holiday, luggage was spread anywhere, if its any shortcoming of the european train system is that they dont have enough luggage capasity, especally for large bags. Everyone is off on holiday this weekend so everything was very busy, there was a long line in the bord bistro, and luggage everywhere in the asles. Also because of mayday, there were police everywhere in Hannover, probally had a bit of drunken revelry or something. Anyways tommorw the Brocken Bahn and back to hannover in the evening, since no one speaks english over here it will be intresting to see if we can get a ride on the Brocken Bahn.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bears and Snow

Reposted from http://busdude.livejournal.com/

Todays trip was to Bern, the capitol of switzerland. The trip is an easy trip on many of the trains that leave from Interlaken Ost. The morning part was a semi-guided tour through the rose garden that wasent blooming, and to the bear pits where pedro the bear was out today in his bear pit. We also got to go to the old town, and got a magnificent viewing of the 16th centuary cathedral there. While we were there someone started paying the organ and it sounded so beautiful in there. i wish i could have stayed there longer however, we all went to go watch the clock ring in 11 oclock. many of the big clocks perform shows and this one did a little bit but i wish i could have stayed in the church, the building was spectacular, even if it had been gutted in the 17th centuary with changes in the church, and the organ and accoustics in there were so wonderful it was breathtaking.

Anyways after that we went on a ride out to Worf Dorf on the "G" interurban and than transferred to an S bahn back to the Haubahnhof. At arriving back at the Hbf, we rode a #9 tram out to the end of the line to a funicular, and took the Gurten Bahn funicular up to park at the top of the hill and back, than we rode the funicular back down to the bottom of the hill, which is was raining today so the traffic was really light on the line. We got on an Sbahn back to the Hbf, had lunch at the McD's there, than jim went back to the hotel and i went out to ride buses and trams. I rode the the #3 line out to the loop at the end of the line, and back, a #20 Trolleybus to the end of its line, than the Sbahn back to the Hbf from the station, which is unique as it was a 4 track station, but in a wye, so two tracks were near the "station" and a ways out were the other two tracks. Afterwards i got on a #9 streetcar, and rode out to the end of the line and it was packed. i found out everyone was going to an ice hocky game. Upon arrival at the Hbf i than got on a #12 rode it to the short end, and walked back to the station with some side deviation through the neighborhoods to check things out. Everyone walks in switzerland and for the most part its very pedistrian friendly. I than took an IC train back to Interlaken for the tour meeting, and upon completion of that since the bar is closed took a bus through town (saw the only sex shop i have seen in switzerland) and had pizza. since it was so late, we took an ICE train (really wasent an ICE train as it had older SBB corail equipment on it instead of an ICE train. After that got a bus back to the hotel. Tommorw is a jaunt up towards the joungfrau than thursday the matterhorn, and friday onto germany for the hartz mountains.

Wendsday
Todays adventure to the alps was suppose to be taking the BOB train to Lauterbrunnen to transfer to an gondola to get to the narrow guage railway to get to the town of Murien tan go back to Lauterbrunnen and take the narrow guage train to Kleine Scheidegg than back through Gridndenwald. an avalanche put and end to that plan, so after arriving at Lauterbrunnen, we broke off from the group which went back to Interlaken due to poor weather conditons, rode the gondola up to the top of the hill. This gondola is intresting as it also carries frieght on the lower level since Murien is private-car free. There are commericial vehicles up there. We rode the narrow guage train, which uses full size electric railcars (how did they get them up there?!?!?!) like you would find on any electric line into Murien, however when we got to the top it was snowing so bad we dident stay long, and infact the train we rode into town was forging a new path as the railhead was already covered in fresh snow. did get quite a few beautiful pictures though of the show and mountains and trees and what have you. The train also has a flatcar behind to haul the freight from the cable railway. After coming back from that we decided to ride up to Kleine Scheidegg via the open route since the rail lines form a loop through the area. The ride up was quite scenic, and was fogged in for the most part. Upon arriving at Kleine Schiedegg we purchased itms at the gift shop, took pictures of me riding the red swiss cow (a popular tourest symbol), saw a st. bernard with cask strapped on his neck, and had lunch at the resturant there. After lunch, we took a train back down the hill. After getting back to Lauterbrunnen, we rode back up to Murien, this time more people were on the train, it was just us before, and took the other gondola back down the hill. we were going to ride up to the Schilthorn, but it was clsoed Got some rare mileage on this gondola though, since the main gondola to Stechelberg through Gimmelwald was closed, we got to ride the freight gondola direct to Stechelberg. The line was a near vertical drop down, probally in the 70-80% range. After getting down, we took a postal bus back to Lauterbrunnen, and rode the line up to Grindenwald and back. at Griendenwald we met a couple of other people on our tour who had rode the first train through since the avalanche. Got back to the hotel around 6 this evening. 2 More nights here, tommorw going to the matterhorn than off to germany and home. As much as i love this country, i cant wait to get home.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Castles and Bern

Today an adventure into French speaking Switzerland. The country is divided into 3 main language portions, with German and English being the most common, as english is quickly becoming a universal standard. Frist a ride on the Golden Pass route from Interlaken to Zweismmen, on the narrow guage BOB railroad. The golden pass line actually coveres 3 diffrent railroads, and 2 guages. the first and last segments are standard guage and the middle, over the BOB is narrow. The equipment we got was a "pullman" car which is more like a parlour car with some forward facing and some swivel seating, a very nice car. We transferred in Zweisimmen to the standard guage portion using more modern "dome" equipment similar to what was used on the glacier express, however being standard guage and the floor was raised up a bit to give a better view out the window. We arrivied in Montreux, and boarded a boat for the ride ot the Chillon Castle http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chillon_Castle, which is a castle built in the 17th century and is in very good condition. We only had an hour but got a full tour of the midevil castle, the interior appointments are rather spartan but it did have a dungeon, and stores, even still a rope for taking care of people. Unfourtunatly the tour guide told us to wait at the gift shop for further instruction to the train station, And our most elderly gentleman at 89 years of age decided to go to the train station ahead of time, and we never saw him again. We did a quick search, checking both the road and trail to the train station but never saw him. After that we boarded a local train in Veytaux-Chillon to Lausanne which was using single level commuter equipment that was about twenty years old. After making a transfer to a train in bern using standard double deck IR equipment built by Bombardier/Adtrans/Stadler. After arriving in Bern we stayed behind to check out the city for tommorw, and i have never seen so many buses and trains in one area before. Tommorw morning is a semi-guided tour of bern, than a boat back to Interlaken. I may decide to skip the boat and ride the buses and trains for the rest of the afternoon and come back by train in the afternoon. Listening to the news today this swine flu seems to be quite the growing concearn in mexico.

Anyways i just got back from Interlaken Ost, i had talked to the tour manager in the hall and he said if the old guy was coming back on the train it would be in a half hour or so, so i decided to go down to the bahnhof and watch the trains, wander around a bit and keep my eye out for him. Got off the bus and was going to the platform to check and see the arrivals and low and behold there he was. a bit disorentated but he was there. Apparantly he had walked by the train station in Veytaux-Chillon which is kinda hidden and if you dont know where it is you will have problems finding it, and hitched a ride into town to the train station there and got put on a train back for Interlaken Ost. He wanted to get back for dinner and so we hopped a cab back and came back to a roaring applause. They were congradulating me for finding him well i really dident just wandered down to see if he was there and all and sure enough he was. so i did my good deed for the day. now i can resume being naughty again. Apparantly tonight theres also a desert bar so i may have to stop by the dining room later on to see whats left. And unfortunatly i dident get to wander the town, so i will have to do that tommorw, when the pizzaria is closed.

so all in all a good end for the day.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Interlaken (formerly: The Swine Flu is going to kill us all)

Todays Trip was to Interlaken, Started out on the local bus to the train station, to get on the train to Luzern. Bus ride is only about 3 minutes from Boingin See to the Interlaken Ost Bahnhoff. Got on the ZB train to Luzern, however due to a bridge replacement, there was a bus bridge in effect and the shuttle from Interlaken to Brienz than on the bus to Meiringen on an ABe 130 trainset (built by stadtler, similar to the Thurbo and Tilo trainsets). After the bus bridge, rode on a more conventional train the rest of the way to Luzern. Afer that a short ride on the SOB to verkenhaus which is the suburban train station at the railway museum. Spent about 3 hours in the museum, seeing the exhibits. the museum is impressive, it has a large railway gallery, with atleast 3 tracks, and probally 20 pieces of equipment under cover there, also saw the air and boat museum. both have various vessils on display, including a swissair jet and DC3, and a lake steamer that has been stuffed and mounted. the airplane gallery is smaller than the musum of flight but has more on display i think, plus the maritime and cable railway museum is eaqually as impressive. after touring the museum, and purchasing some stuff including a dvd and a nify locomotive spotters guide i rode the #3 Trolleycoach line back to Luzerne Hbf and than had lunch at McDonalds which was right across the street from the Hbf, also, used the McClean (subtle swiss humor) pay restrooms in the station, and i will say my one frank gets a very nice very modern and very clean restroom, with plenty of urinals to choose from all kept immaculate. Afterwards i got on a #2 trolleycoach with new lowfloor equipment (coach #203) and rode out to its desintation and back. a very nice ride on very nice equipment that was nearly 100% lowfloor. afterwards i got some photos of the buses by the Hbf than took the train back to Interlaken. Same scenario as before with the bus bridge, and arrived back at the hotel at actually a very reasonable hour in time for dinner. Tonight i will have pizza again, but will try one with just double salami and see what happens. the pizza was very good last night. yummy.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Milan, Interlaken, and Self Abuse

Today started out with a side trip to Milan. Boarded a train for Bellinoza this morning at a bright and early 645 am, than transferred to a 7 something Cisalpino to Milan. Due to equipment shortages the CisAlpino equipment is a mix of clapped out old compartment cars, and other various cars pulled from the SBB. the locomotive used was from SBB Cargo (http://www.sbbcargo.ch) The compartment car we rode on was quite beat, the compartment's blower was making all sort of sick noises, the car was dirty, although better than some trentitalia equipment that has been seen to date (covered in grafitti or the remnants of, dirty, rusty, in general poor state of things). The train station in milan is impressive. 21 tracks, the largest trainshed i have ever seen (apparantly moussilini boasted this fact too) and enough people inside the station to populate a small town. Checked out the newsstands, they do love to read but there are no erotik magazine sections that seem to populate the Kiosk stores on the SBB lines. Too bad too as i was going to check out the local porn, see if any of it featured the fine women of the country (which is amazing considering from what i have seen of italy, the rest of the country is a bit run down and dirty, just everything the trains, buildings, grounds all of it). Of course having 2 hours in milan had to work a trolley trip into the picture somewhere, so we rode a tram out a ways, a pre-wwII peter witt car, like those used in san francisco (which actually came from milan and are called by the SF natives "milanos"). Rode out and got off in some small shopping district, and went to ride one back but none came. Seems a trip got missed somewhere. finally caught one back, got a few pictures of the trams and buses and went to board the cisalpino back to bellinzola. this time it was an actual cisalpino tilting set, which rode really nice but was quite small and cramped even comparted to modern ICN trainsets built by bombardier/alstom that are employed by the SBB. Upon arriving back in Locarno (took a couple of the TILO trains with their 5 car stadler EMU sets) lunch was had at the local mc donalds were the always attractive counter attendant spoke engish. from there we rode the FART train from Locarno to Domodossola Italy. The FART is a narrow guage line that to Domodossola from the subway station in locarno, infact its station in Domodossola is also in a subway, but the rest of the line runs above ground over quite scenic country side. The equipment being used was the panoramic cars with tall glass windows, and with one seat facing forward looking out the front window. I got that seat :-)

After winding up in Interlaken Ost took a postal bus to the hotel which is on the beautiful Lake Breinz and from the room have a stunning view of the lake and mountains. Tommorw a visit to the swiss transport museum. As for the self abuse part of todays story, no i was not killing any kittens, but thats a good thought, i had pizza at the hotel's bar/pizzeria. With my unique dietary tastes and just general hattrid for any plated meal in which i get absoutly no choice. The pizza was made with spicy italian salami which is the equivilant to pepperoni in the states and very very good, so much so i burned the roof of my mouth on it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Rainy day in the old neighborhood

Started out the day by taking the S20 line to Bellinzona to watch some trains. probally well over 50 trains were spotted in an hour and a half on the gottard route which is the main germany-italy main line, Numberous Local services running new Stadtler cars were spotted, along with several trains running Zurich-Milan service including one of the new, and often malfunctioning Italian tilt trains. Also got pictures of 2 DB freights running through. After arriving back in locarno, we resumed the tour's scheduled trip of going to Isola Madre and Isola Bella to see the castles and gardens. the ride to Isola Madre was on a hydro foil, and the grounds were quite nice, followed by a lunch at the little resturant on the island, in which i had a salami plate of various kinds of salami and than a short boat ride to Isola Bella to see the stunning castle and grounds there. The castle is a tourest trap, but is 200 years in the making. Apparantly the story goes that the castles owners befrended nepolian in order to keep their little island to themselves. The castle itself features very tall rooms, a grotto decorated with real coral, lots of artwork, many of which feature artistic nudes of women (statues and paintings, all done quite tastefully of superb models with nothing left to hide). Some males were also done up in a similar fashion. Both islands had a large Peacock population that seemed to go wherever they pleased, and one of which on Isola Bella fanned out its tail for all to see. The rest of the island is a tourest trap, with streetside vendors set up in varous spots hawking their irrelevant wares. Tommorws destination, if all works out and the trains run on time is short and quick trip to Milan, and back before moving to the hotel in Interlaken, which we will be staying at for six days. Thats in the german part of switzerland again. Locarno is a nice town, but everything seems to close early, even for switzerland and i much prefer the german part. I havent aten at the mcd's yet, and wont as i havent a clue what the italian word for french fries is, but in german its pommes fritas, and medium is medium and coke is coke. intresting how english is mixed with german in the same conversation. The weater today was rainy and dosent look good for the next couple days either :-( In other notes, im glad we are moving on as this hotel has absoultly poor wi-fi in this room, and ontop of that you have to pay for it...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Bible makes a good mousepad

Today started in Chur and ended in Locarno in the italian speaking part of Switzerland. This morning a couple of short city bus rides were made around Chur on the 4 and 1 routes, on mercedees citaro equipment. After that the group boarded a Post bus (only after a quick trip to the gift shop to get a post bus of my own) to Davos, where we transferred to the Appenzellan Bahn to Thusis with a transfer in Fillisur. After that we boarded another post bus to go across the alps to Bellinzona than on a regional train (with modern stadler equipment like the thurbo's except in 5 car sets) to Locarno. The hotel is in walking distance to the train station. the post bus trips took and hour and a half and two and a half hours respectivly, and our group took up most of the bus. the bus to Bellinzona was full with local traffic coming on after us already and infact had standees. The two bus trips were quite scenic, on narrow roads which made for an intresting ride. The train ride from Bellinzona to Locarno was on the SBB gottard route, which is their busy north south main line and trains run every few minutes either goods or passenger. Upon arriving in locanro we went for a ride up the incline which was quite a fun ride and walked around town. Dinner was already arranged for at he hotel, infact it comes with the room cost which is kind of redicules if you ask me, however since it was a plated meal and since i dont like plated meals i went downtown to a pizzria to get a salami pizza and a coke. afterwards i tired to go to the co op to get some coke to take back to the room, however it was closed by the time i had gotten there so that idea was nixed. when it came time to take my pills i went down to the "Bar barge", which isnt its real name but its this boat that sits on the water (our room here in Locarno overlooks the water and alps), and plays some awful tacky music, and is slackly tied to the dock for the effect. I went in to get a coke, and there were 3 guys in this thing, the bartender and two customers chewing the fat. I think they were old sea hands swapping tales, anyways i get my coke and sit down and enjoy the music and atmosphere of an establsihment that is very nautical in theme (with fishing net over the ceiling and fake sealife in it, a couple old ship lanters inside and everything. its quite the sight. Tommorw we sail the lake and look at a couple of castles/flower gardens, kinda blah day on the trip but the rest of it looks like fun. Still a little over a week left, hard to beilieve its been a week so far. Also since we are in the italian section of switzerland, italian is the predominate language and infulence. you can tell this by their driving (they dont stop for pedistirans), the dogs tend to bark instead of being well behaved like in the german parts of switzerland, and they tend to dress down more than people in the german part of the country. ive seen more t-shirts here than i have all trip so far. oh, and the women are as beautiful to look at as always. And as for the title, yes i am using a bible as a mousepad, as blasphmeous as it may be since the desk surface is glass and the mouse dosent like it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Salami Pizza

Today was a good day. Started out by taking the RHb to Davos platz and back, its a scenic journey from Chur to Fillisur where we changed trains to Davos Platz. Rode out to Davos Platz and back to Fillisur where we again changed trains to go back to Chur. Lots of twists and turns on this line and snow by Davos Plats, Got lots of pictures of the snow and Alps, and of somewhat notable intrest there was a painting or grafitti of one of the charatchers from Futurama topless on the side of a building. i was going to get a picture but alas the conductor came around to see tickets right as we passed it.

The rest of the day was spent riding the Glacier Express, we started at Chur, and the the train is all a glass roofed diner train, becuase we are a group we got the special of the day which is some plated meal, which if course i wont eat. I did manage to get a cheese platter instead :-) we rode the train to andermatt, spent 200 dollars for souviners, including a model of one of the dome cars, a DVD, and a cardboard (thought it was plastic) replica train destination sign. After getting off and rode the train down to Goschenen, passing a 12th centurary roman build road and bridget in a narrow canyon (got pictures), and on a steep rack down to Goschenen where we transferred to a mainline SBB train to Arth-Goldau. the SBB train was intresting, as many of you know i am a fan of old equipment and we got an old car as our private car. This car was literally pulled out of the reserve dead line and put on the train. Normally SBB equipment is clean, in good repair, etc. This car however was unwashed, had dirty windows, was somewhat dusty and dident have air conditioning. The reasoning is because on the gottard line which we rode, was facing an equipment shortage as some italian built trains were not yet ready for service and they needed all the extra equipment they could muster to replace them. the reason we got a 45-55 year old coach i think was because of the shortage all the regular extra 1st class coaches were pressed into regular service and someone at the last minute said oh shit and had it pulled off the deadline and put in service. I got plenty of pictures of this coach and almost missed the next train at Pfaffikon SZ. Our group got on an eaqually old coach there on one of the trains, however it appears to have been serviced more recently than the one we rode on the prior train, i rode in the regular first class section in some newer versions of those cars.

dinner was had at a local chur pizzeria, did find the two strip clubs in town (yet no "clubs" per se) but dident go in, and tonight is our last night here. Now two nights in Locarno.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pizza in Italy

Today wsa the trek down to Tirano in italy. the morning started quite early with a 730 AppenzellenBahn train from Chur to Samedan. A transfer was made to the train to Ponstresina which is all of 2 minutes than onto the train to Tirano. We took the local train so we could take pictures of the alps since the local trains have windows that can be opened whereas the the dome car equipped train dident have the opening windows. It was a long ride down, but fun and there was a lot of snow in the alps and they were quite pretty. Upon arriving in Tirano there was no border control at all, however italy isnt as pretty as switzerland is. Atleast the city of tirano was a bit more grungy than most swiss cities. the equipment of the italian railways was well used, and you can tell where they had cleaned NYC style full car side grafitti off most of the equipment, in some cases not very well. The return ride on the Bernina express was nice, however a bit cozy in second class plus it was 4 hours on the same rail car, even though the car was switched out in samadan and Ponstresina to diffrent trains to take the through cars back to chur. The town of Tirano aside from being a bit grungy is nice, saw several nice small churches, one with nice hand panted religous paintings of Jesus Christ being put up on the cross, and we even had a pizza in intaly at a nice small pizza and pasta place. the tough was hand tossed and very light and good.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Fries and a Coke

4/18/09
Yesturday we mostly stuck just to the scheudled trip because we went to the island of manau. Its a big floral island in the bodensee (lake Kostance) and is actually rather scenic. they are suppose to have the largest field of wild tulips and they do, its quite the sight. Anyways the day started out with a train trip to Glossau, where we boarded a older thurbo trainset to Weinfelden, and than a Thurbo train the rest of the way to Konstanz. From there we boarded a boat (the dock was right behind the station) to the island, in which we boarded the Badau, built in 1935 during the era of the Third Reich, which as a WWII history buff was rather neat to be on a boat that probally once few the nazi flag. of course all signs of that era are long gone on that boat but it was still neat. We went to the island which is linked by a road bridge, saw all the flowers and other displays, including going inside the butterfly house and exotic plants green house, and did all the touresty trap things (which is the whole island basecally) and than back on the train, Konstanz is in germany so we did cross the border again, and took two thurbo sets one from Konstanz to Kreuzlingen, which is just across the border but you really cant tell where the border is since its so developed and there are no more checkpoints, infact the border crossing in the station still had all the equipment in place from the days of being an active border crossing (it was kind of stark and cold-war like which made it neat) and the guard there really dident give a damn, since apparantly you have to decalre stuff but he was next to asleep during the time we passed through. Anyways after getting to Kreuzligen we tok another thurbo the S3 Line which went over SOB trackage to St Gallen than the AB back to Appenzell. Dinner was had at the same pizza/bar as the night before but i had a salami pizza and got pepperoni. was really nice and tasty. dident have any tomato sauce on it though, kinda intresting but really good.


4/20/09
Stayed the last day in Appenzell, in Chur now. Took the Appenzellenbahn to Alstatten Stat, The only time that the trains dont connect. Apparantly 30 years ago the community dident want the train running through to to the bahnhof because they had to take in all their street furniture as the streets were so narrow. So now the train stops outside of town. Arrangement was made with the local bus company to supply a bigger bus to transport the group since the mini-bus would not handle 40 people. they sent a mercedees citaro articulated coach, a real nice bus to take us to the train station. Also arrangement was made with the SBB to provide a first class coach on the local train we rode, which they did. Since we wanted to visit Liechtenstien, we got off in Buchs took the Lichenstien bus (Similar to the Swiss Post bus/semi-suburban buses) to Valdus with a transfer in Schaan, and i got plenty of pictures of buses in both cities, got some souvienrs in Valdus and took the Lichenstien bus to Sargens to get back on the train to Chur. Afterwards we made a trip on the Rietianbahn to the ski town of Arosa. The line is a narrow guage line like all the Rhb, and made many twists and turns to the ski town. Took some pictures there including picurues of the buses in the bus yard since they were not running before taking the line back. After that we had an arranged dinner however since i dident want what was on the menu i skipped that and went and explored town. There is no bar/club district in chur, and onnly a few restuarants that i have found and otherwise not much of a night life. The train station is intresting as it has 3 decks, the train platform level which is at ground level, the subterranian passeges and shopping mall/car park/ and a 3rd bus deck for the post buses. Since i dident care for whats on the menu (the daily special, pork and whatnot covered in stuff plus soup and a deserrt, i went to mc d's and reasonably well ordered my meal on my own. I got my Pommus Fritus (French Fries) and Coke. Intresting things about Mc D's here is they only have the "mini" "small" and "Meidum" sizes, which are roughly equivialant to the "small" "medium" and "large" sizes in the US, i think they have removed the large size to make their products more "healthy" but in reality just relabeled everything. Internet access at this hotel is not free so you have to buy internet access in the form of cards for 30 minutes (but i think you can pay online too, but the signal quality is good i will say. now if my laptop was better...

Winterthur and St Gallen

The Tour started off with open space in the morning, so we went up to winterthur. Took the Appenzell bahn to the mainline transfer at Glossau and than on an ICN train to winterthur. At Winterthur pictures of the buses were taken, and rode a trolleycoach to a suburb of winterthur and than back on an Sbahn with Thurbo equipment. Than rode another set of Thurbo equipment to Wil, and than another ICN train to st gallen. Again pictures of the local buses were taken in St. Gallen, and the 3 volume national bus/rail timetable and map set aquired at the station. Had lunch at McD's and the local and very attractive employee working the counter (most, if not all swiss women are very very attractive) whom actually spoke a little engish served me, than we went on a #5 trolley coach to transfer back to the AB and rejoin the tour group just outside of st gallen. From there we followed the tour group to the abby in st gallen, were we viewed the historic library and cathederal of the abby http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbey_of_St._Gall and http://www.stiftsbibliothek.ch/site/content.asp?typ=Actual&lang=EN&art=w. Afterwards we took a trip on the AB interurban type line to Trogan, boarded a #230 post bus from Torgran to Heiden, than down the cog railway from Heiden to Rorscarch and than a regional train using conventional single level equipment back to St Gallen and the AB home. a long and rather productive day i think. The Abbey itself was beuatiful, the library was simply awesome. It was wall to wall books, 2 stories tall and most of them were several hundred years old, i saw some with dates from 1529 imprinted on them, and some others with an astrological chart from the 920s on display. the floor is a beautiful parquet floor, which you have to wear felt slippers over your shoes so you dont mar the floor at all. i did purchase a book about the library and some postcards from the gift shop which i hope to send out to some intrested parties in the next day or two.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Appenzellenland

As most of you are aware i am in switzerland, i will attempt to keep this updated but who knows.

Wed/Thurs. We went to leave and origonally were scheduled from SEA-CHI than CHI-Frankfurt, however the flight from seattle to chicago was late so we wound up flying through washington dc/dulles instead. Wound up arriving to Frankfurt 2 hrs late. Took the ICE train from Frankfurt-Flughafen (Airport train station) to Karlsruhe where a change of trains was made to Zurich Hbf. Changed to an Sbahn traom Zurch- Flughafen. Arrived in Zurich around 7 local time. after checking in at the hotel took the #10 tram line back into downtown, were some exploration was done than dinner had at a local pizzeria. Its amazing how well connected the systems are, and everything runs just about on time in switzerland, plus theres lots of grafitti everywhere.

Friday
Went into Zurich in the morning via the Sbahn where many tram pictures were taken around Zurich Hbf. Returned to hotel around 10 to claim belongings and join tour group at airport. From there we took a SBB train to Glossau and than from there a narrow guage Appenzellenbahn to Appenzell. After checking in with the hotel and exploring town we took the train to St. Gallen and back, where dinner was had. Reminded me how much i hate catered meals as its usually something i dont want and always smothered in sauces.

that is all for now, will try to update when its feasable.