(The 2005 Switzerland / Treff Tour)
June 4 to 13, 2005
June 4 to 13, 2005
The 2005 Switzerland / Treff trip was AMAZING! With great weather, a great group, and trains by the dozen, it doesn't get much better than this!
NOTE: See the 15 MB condensed version of the whole trip here: VIDEO
Our second trip to the Göppingen Modellbahntreff proved to be as memorable as the first! The weather was great, the scenery spectacular, and the trains plentiful! Here is the full diary of the 2005 Switzerland / Modellbahntreff Great Event Tour. My thanks to everyone who donated pictures, especially David Pryor.
Saturday, June 4: I found several tired but expectant people at the Frankfurt airport. Many of us had flown in from the United States that morning, while other had arrived the evening before from as far away as Australia and New Zealand. We waited on one arriving group member from England, and off we went, to hook up with other travelers in Stuttgart, and then make our way down to Lucerne for the start of a wonderful week of railfanning.
We started the tour in grand style with a champagne reception to go over some last-minute details. After a delicious dinner in Lucerne it was off to bed.
A swan enjoys the peaceful water of Lake Lucerne
Sunday June 5: The group split in half this morning, with the train enthusiasts headed to the Swiss Museum of Transport and the rest of the group receiving guided walking tour of Lucerne. Our guide, Susi, was native to the town, and gave us an excellent introduction to this beautiful and historic city. Here are a few highlights from the tour. Click on the photos for a better view.
The magnificent wooden bridge below is Lucerne's most recognized landmark. Inside, the frames in the rafters tell of the history of the city. Many of these historic paintings were lost in a fire, but some had been stored and were put up afterwards.
Since our tour took place in the morning, we were able to enjoy the bells of the magnificent city cathedral, below...
There happened to be a baker's festival in town that weekend, and we took a tour through the exhibition. The creations you see below are all made of candy!
I found the two cakes below interesting. They both had a railway as a theme (the San Salvatore and the Centovalli lines), and we would end up on both!
After the tour we boarded a steamer for a leisurely sail across Lake Lucerne to the famous Rigi railway for a ride to the top.
The trip to the top of the Rigi is via one of the steepest rack railways I have ever seen! The trip was made even more exciting as one of our group members got off on an intermediate stop to take pictures, and was stranded after our train left! No worries, he took the next one up and rejoined the group at the top...
This is the station of the Rigi railway at Arth Goldau. The station for the rack railway sits directly atop the station for the regular trains. We came down via Arth-Goldau and did some railfanning before returning to Lucerne.
Monday, June 6: The following day we took the train from Lucerne to Lugano. The ride took us over the famous Gotthard route, where rain and clouds on the north side gave way to brilliant sunshine on the south. Three of the group had made the trip by car, and were waving like crazy as we passed them in Wassen from our dry, comfortable observation car.
We arrived in Lugano late in the afternoon. This magnificent city on what is known as the "Swiss Riviera" is both historic and modern. Right inside the station is a cable car which takes you down the hill into downtown and the lakefront.
The last picture shows the view from just outside our hotel. This main line sees plentiful passenger and freight traffic all day.
Several of the group took the ride up to San Salvatore the next morning. David Pryor was kind enough to share the following pictures:
The last picture shows our 'cruise ship' for our evening trip across Lake Lugano. A strong wind made for an exciting trip!
Tuesday, June 7: We spent a good portion of the morning enjoying the Galleria Baumgartner, an amazing collection of trains in all scales and from all manufacturers. The 1-scale collection alone took up nearly an entire floor! The museum is easy to get to, and well worth the short trip from Lugano. Just take the train to Mendrisio, walk out of the station, turn left, and follow the main street for about a quarter mile. Did I mention they also have a small shop, with some reasonable prices, too?
Next up was a short excursion to Chiasso on the Italian border to watch the ballet of operations at this vital border station.
Afterwards we headed to Swiss Miniatur, a nifty collection of all of Switzerland's most famous landmarks, faithfully reproduced in 1:24 scale. For garden railway enthusiasts, this is a MUST SEE! It's just outside the train station in Melide, just two stops down from Lugano on the way to Chiasso.
Wednesday, June 8: We left this beautiful part of Switzerland and rode the Centovalli line through northern Italy to Brig. The slow pace of the train ride and the amazing scenery made this a most enjoyable morning. We arrived in Brig shortly after lunch, giving me some time to hike up to the Simplon tunnel portal, plus up the side of the Simplon just a ways to catch some pictures of Brig's massive freight and passenger depots.
I also poked around the workshops and locomotive facilities, taking the following photos:
The group split on that Wednesday afternoon, with Jacques Vuye taking a portion of the group to Zermatt. This group would also be taking the hike to the Biestchtal Bridge the next day. The rest of the group spent Thursday in Zermatt. Pictures from both groups follow:
The group that headed to Zermatt on Wednesday afternoon took the Gornergrat high into the Alps with a sensational view of the Matterhorn.
Thursday, June 9: While Carsten took his group to Zermatt for a full day, Jacques took the more adventurous on a six-mile hike along the BLS main line from Brig, stopping to admire the famous Biestschtal viaduct.
As mentioned, the remaining group members headed to Zermatt for their day in this Alpine playground. Some chose to ride the Gornergrat, while Carsten ventured with a few from the group via five (!) cable car rides to the top of the Klein Matterhorn, a peak at 12780 feet with a spectacular view of the Matterhorn and surrounding Alps. NOTE: The last cable car ride is not for the faint of heart!
The last picture is of the station at St. Niklaus, a station still available as a Pola model
Friday, June 10: We took the train back through Switzerland and into Germany on this day, arriving at our hotel in Esslingen in the late afternoon. The next day it was off to the Treff...
Saturday, June 11: Finally the Treff! The crowds were huge, but the sights plentiful, and everyone enjoyed this amazing mix of real trains and model trains. The station at Göppingen was abuzz with activity and historic trains, including an E69, a Taurus Dispolok, a V100 diesel, an E94, and the following steam locomotive classes: 01, 38, 50, 64, and 75, all under steam and fully operational!
Sunday, June 12: We arrived at Göppingen to find the Treff just as crowded as the day before. Still, there was plenty to see, and we ended this enjoyable day with a steam train ride to Plochingen and back behind the BR75 in old "thunderbox" coaches. After the Treff ended, the group assembled in Esslingen for our farewell dinner. Martin Brandt from Stuttgart joined, bringing along some Marklin track and trains to try and stump the rest of us with a switching puzzle. It seemed an appropriate end to what had been a wonderful week of train experiences!
In all, it was a wonderful experience, with plenty to see and do, and not nearly enough time to see and do everything. Will there be another Swiss Great Event? You can count on it!