Friday, January 19, 2018


No signs of inclement weather, just very low ceiling as we're on final approach to Copenhagen.

I'm amused about the size of the "Fire and Fury" display at WHSmith's.

I get to hang out at the airport for a couple hours before it's time for the long-haul flight to San Francisco.

Thursday, January 18, 2018


After spending over a month Europe, it's time to go home.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Yes, I'm thrilled. Just in time for the lunch break it started snowing, so I went outside for 5 minutes afterwards and enjoyed the falling snow.

Despite the fresh snow it's fairly warm. The snow flakes are big, heavy, and very wet.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Zurich at Night

For a team dinner tonight, we headed over to Le Dezaley. They are known for their yummy cheese fondue, among other things, and of course I couldn't not choose that.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sunday: Winterwunderland

Sunday: Andermatt - Oberwald

10:36. R 537 will depart for Visp in a minute, I should get on board... The sky is are now deep blue, not a single cloud, and the valley is covered in snow.

I lean back in my seat and simply enjoy the scenery. Not even 15 minutes from Andermatt the train enters the Furkapass base tunnel in Realp. As the train plunges in the darkness of the tunnel, I catch a glimpse of the car loading facility. That looked interesting.

When we exit the tunnel and stop in Oberwald, I get off the train just to catch a loaded car train entering the tunnel.

Hmmm, nothing else going on here. A quick photo of my train and then back on board. ... But we're not leaving. Why's that?

Aha, there's an opposing train, that's why!

But it's not just any train, it's the Glacier Express, the only train that traverses the whole length of track between Zermatt and St. Moritz.

This is a luxury train, with very cool cars, fancy food, etc.

An on-board restaurant and bar ...

... but you can't get off the train like I'm doing it here.

The Glacier Express enters the Furka tunnel, and I need to take a step back, so that the doors of my train can close.

Sunday: Goeschenen - Andermatt

When I was satisfied with my photos on the SBB side of Goeschenen station, I walked over to the Gotthard Matterhorn Bahn side. To my surprise there were two trains ready to depart. I chatted with one of the engineers and learned that the train on the right was R 629, leaving for Andermatt at 10:04, and the other was R 631 leaving for Andermatt at 10:11. I immediately decided to take the later departure and take more photos.

10:04. R 629 was leaving right on time. The shade once again made it difficult to take decent photos of moving objects.

I do like this shot of the R 629 disappearing around the curve with the Gotthard Tunnel in the background.

I hung out a little while longer and then boarded R 631. 

10:11. As the cog wheels engage and the train works up the hill, I take one last photo of the Gotthard north portal.

The railroad climbs up a narrow valley right next to the old Gotthard pass road.

As we climb higher the landscape turns white and at 10:21 we arrive in Andermatt.

I wasn't prepared for the flurry of activity here. R 629 from Goeschenen had been moved to a siding. I had just arrived with R 631 on track 3.
R 823 from Disentis arrived a minute later at 10:22 on track 2. Despite the big sticker on the locomotive this is not the Glacier Express.

R 518 had arrived from Visp on track 1 just two minutes before. R 537 is waiting on track 4 for its departure to Visp at 10:37. Every track in this tiny mountain station is in use.

Passengers are transferring between their trains and the crew has a couple minutes for a chat.

10:28. Enough chatting. R 828 leaves from track 1 to Disentis.

Right behind R 828 the locomotive from R 823 runs around its cars still standing on track 2.

10:29. R 626 is returning back to Goeschenen from track 3 on the left, while R 828 has entered the rack rail section and climbs the hill in the background, and the locomotive from R 823 is moving from track 1 to the main track to complete its run-around move.

This will become R 830 to Oberalppass leaving Andermatt at 10:40.

Sunday: Gotthard Nordrampe

The Gotthard north ramp from Erstfeld to Goeschenen is one of the famous rail lines in Switzerland. Over the years SBB built stronger and stronger locomotives for this line. Very heavy trains often ran as double-header or with pushers. With the opening of the Gotthard base tunnel, this line is not nearly as busy anymore as it used to be. It's still cool, though. 

I tried to catch the famous 3 views of the village church in Wassen. The tracks gain elevation by folding back onto themselves hugging the valley sides and two 180 degree turns. As a consequence trains pass the village of Wassen three times at different elevations.

Here's the view of the church looking back into the valley after the train passed Wassen for the first time. Most of the valley is still shaded while the mountain tops are already in bright sun light. This in combination with dirty windows gave the automatic exposure control of the camera quite a bit of trouble.

Next we make a wide right turn to the other side of the valley and pass the church a second time. Again it's tricky to catch the right moment for the photo if you are not familiar with the area, because of bushes, trees, tunnels, and sound walls next to the tracks.

After another tunnel reversing direction we pass the church the third time. The previous photo was taken from the tracks in the lower half of the photo below.

A few minutes later the InterRegio arrives in Goeschenen at the north portal of the Gotthard tunnel.

9:52. It's cold up here, with a nasty wind. The other passengers disappeared quickly into the station building, but I hung out for a few minutes to look around and take photos. I have a 20 minute layover before continuing my journey.
Good thing I did, so I could catch the train from Andermatt as it works its way down the last few meters on the cog rail.