Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Day 3: Mount Blanc and the Matterhorn

Yesturday's adventure took us to Parc du Chatelard where you can view a dam built in the mountains and Mount Blanc.
We got on ir1414 a co rail equipped train from brig to martingny, at martingny we tranferred to the tmr, a regional railroad to Le Chatelard VS. This line was a partially rack assisted railway using emu type equipment. They powered their trains with a mix of overhead cantenary and third rail. When we arrived at Le Chateland VS we walked over to the funicular to exchange our tickets for small cardbard tickets for the funicular/train system up to Emossen.
The funicular was built when the dam was built to carry workers to/from the dam site. It was rebuilt in the 70s for reconstruction of the dam and has been a touriest attraction for the last twenty years. The line ascends 2270 feet from the valley on an 87% grade (87 veritical feet for every 100 feet travelled). At the top station Chateau D' Eau we transferred to a very narrow guage train (the guage was similar to what you would find on a life steam railway. Mabye 1-1.5 feet inbetween the rails. This line took us along a narrow shelf to the final funicular to the top at Emosson.
At Emosson, there is a resturant and a gift shop along with views of the high mountain dam and Mount Blanc. There really isnt much to do there except for taking some pictures. We got trapped up at the top for an extra hour due to the lunch break of the staff of the railroad but we eventually made our way down and off the mountain.
We took a return train to visp and broke off from the rest of the group to go to the matterhorn. From visp we took a train to zermatt. This is a narrow guage line of the MGB. Zermatt is an intresting city, as its totally car free. They have small electric vehivles to take you around town but there are no cars. If you drive to zermatt, you have to park your car at Tasch, which featres a couple very large parking garages, one built underground under a pasture. From there you take a train that runs 24 hours a day into zermatt.
We paid the 40 franc surchagre to ride the gornergratbahn to gornergrat and see the matterhorn. Unforutunatly for us, the shops and resturants in gornergrat and the resturant were closed. The matterhorn was being obscured by clouds as well. Since the next train was over an hour off we took the same train we took us back down and had dinner in zermatt at an itailian resturant. The food was good, although they put blue cheese in my pizza which i wasent fond of. After that we took a train back to brig and it was a fialry uneventful ride.

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