A Travellerspoint blog

The Swiss Plateau

Alps - Schaffhauen & Bern

semi-overcast 22 °C
View Alps on kmmk17's travel map.


Due to Covid, it had been a long time since we'd been able to do a proper travel holiday. One place on the list was Central Switzerland - I'd been to the eastern and western sides before, but never had the chance to visit the central sections - Bern, Lucerne, Ticino etc.

With regular flights to Zurich and Milan, the best plan was to see the northern side, and then cross through the Alps themselves to the southern side. Ending up in Italy, we could see some bits there before heading home, and making this a week long trip.

The weather this summer has been terrible. June had about 3 weeks of decent weather, but July was almost a complete washout - even the middle weekend that is almost always glorious. Thankfully we were headed to Europe where they had decent weather! Or so we thought - in the run up to our trip, the weather took a turn for the worse, and the weather in Switzerland was not much better than it was at home! The third trip this year we'd need to carry our rainmacs with us.

With it being summer holidays, the airport was pretty busy - taking an hour to get through security. So much so that we had to rush through our dinner before boarding commenced.

When I checked in, we had been given seats in the first row, despite not paying the hefty surcharge for the privilege. Extra legroom was great, but it meant we also had to put all or bags in the overhead lockers - kind of annoying with a window seat. As we hadn't paid for Speedy Boarding, I wanted to make sure our bags were close to our seats. When we got to the gate we showed our passes and were directed to the Speedy Boarding queue - we'd now be first on the plane!

Having boarded and flown to Switzerland, disembarking we were one of the first off the plane, and with the flight having been on time, we thankfully weren't arriving too late - just as well as we had to wait in the slow Brexit queues at immigration.

Once through, we made it out of the airport and boarded the next tram, headed the short distance around the corner to our hotel for the night. Due to the late time, we were staying the night near the airport before we would get to start properly enjoying our trip the next day.

The next morning we grabbed breakfast, before heading off just before 10am back to the tram stop. A few stops later and we had arrived at the local train station, where we waited to board the next train heading north to Schaffhausen. Schaffhausen is the northernmost canton of Switzerland, and just to the south of the eponymous town are the Rhine Falls - the largest waterfalls in Europe.

Shortly before arriving at the station, we emerged from a tunnel with an amazing view overlooking the entire waterfall area - both the falls themselves and the castle above.

View of the Rhine Falls

View of the Rhine Falls

We then pulled into the station, and made our way down the hill, and across to the railway bridge on the higher section of the river above the falls. We walked across the bridge and then up to the top of the castle complex.

Laufen Castle

Laufen Castle

Up here it was very busy, and after buying entrance tickets for the falls, we made our way across and down the lift to the riverside.

There were many opportunities here to get close to the waterfalls themselves. There were many lookout positions, and a small deck that protrudes out into the falls themselves.

The Ledge

The Ledge

From here you can literally face into this wall of water. Slightly scary, but incredibly unique!

The Wall of Water

The Wall of Water

With such a long day ahead, we didn't have much time to stay here, which was a pity. It was very busy here, and the lift back to the top was packed - a very sweaty experience.

After buying a souvenir, we headed back across the river and to the station in time for the next train south. Once there another tourist stopped us and asked us where Platform 1 is. There is only one platform at the station, and so we told her - this is it! "No this is 1A" she said - misunderstanding that in Switzerland, the platforms are subdivided into lettered sections which the boards then identify as to where each carriage will be. Despite this, she still looked confused and went hunting for the missing platform...

On the way back to Zurich, interestingly the trainline passed through a small salient of German land, completely disconnected to the rest of German rail network. Two stations are situated on this line, which we stopped at before we re-entered Switzerland.

Once arriving in Zurich, we had around 15 minute to transfer between platforms, so we took a quick look at the pretty building housing the National Museum, opposite the station.

National Museum

National Museum

The train on to Bern was pretty busy, but we managed to get seats. It took around two hours following the River Aare before we reached the Swiss capital.

After putting our luggage into storage, we then went for a wander around the city. We headed south and over to the parliament building. Although there are four larger cities in the country, this is it's capital. The building as sadly being renovated, and was covered in scaffolding.

Swiss Parliament

Swiss Parliament

We then headed over to the nearby bridge, where the scale of the city's imposing view over the meandering river was clear.

Views of Bern

Views of Bern

After this, we headed eastwards, past the cathedral and towards some of the beautiful views off the Nydegg Bridge.

Views from the Nydegg Bridge

Views from the Nydegg Bridge

Having done a fair bit of walking, primarily downhill, we jumped on the next trolleybus and headed back up into town. We then jumped off a few stops later and wandered between the parallel streets, viewing the town hall before heading back to the main road, grabbing a souvenir.

Town Hall

Town Hall

Adjacent to the shop was the Einstein house, a museum in the flat that Einstein lived in between 1903-1905. Today it had free entry, so I took a very quick look, including seeing the lovely view of the city from the balcony.

Einstein's View

Einstein's View

We were now heading back to the station, walking past the clock towers. We grabbed some dinner and then headed to grab our luggage and take the next train to Interlaken.

Main Street

Main Street

We made our way south, passing several Swiss towns, before entering the more mountainous areas and passing Lake Thun. On the other side of the lake was the town of Interlaken, which its sandwiched between Lakes Thun and Brienz.

Interlaken

Interlaken

Here we then swapped to a much smaller train that headed up the mountains towards our final place for the day - Grindelwald.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 15:59 Archived in Switzerland Tagged lakes bridges trains rain airport river city museum waterfall castle weather station plane parliament alps alpines

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