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Review: Glacier Express First Class Zermatt to Andermatt

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Virgin Atlantic 207 787-9 Economy Class Hong Kong to London Heathrow
Swissport Lounge London Heathrow
Virgin Atlantic 206 787-9 Premium Economy Class London Heathrow to Hong Kong
Plaza Premium Lounge Hong Kong
United Club Hong Kong
Swiss 139 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Zurich
Swiss Arrivals Lounge Zurich
Glacier Express 902 Zermatt to Andermatt
Hotel Victoria Jungfraujoch
Touring the Hotel Schynige Platte
Hotel Baur au Lac Zurich
Swiss Senator Lounge Terminal A
Swiss Panorama Business Class Lounge Terminal E
Swiss 138 777-300ER Business Class Zurich to Hong Kong

While I took lots of train and boat rides on the trip, I feel like this is the only report worth reviewing, so I won’t go beating a dead horse about the other train rides. There are bloggers who would probably get 600+ readers on a report on a five-minute MTR ride, though I’m not one of them – given that you guys are my few valuable readers, I might as well give you valuable content. The Glacier Express was the method that my parents chose to take from Zermatt to Andermatt, for a two-hour car ride to Interlaken. They also chose to book first class for ~HK$436 more, bringing a first class ticket price to ~HK$1,000.

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 14.14.43Glacier Express First Class Prices

I played along – there’d be views, and I would be in first class – what’s not to love? 😉

The Glacier Express runs both ways from Zermatt to St. Moritz and Davos. We were on a frequency to St. Moritz, but we were getting off at Andermatt, which was three stops after our departure point at Zermatt. To make things clearer, we boarded at the red box below, and alighted at the blue box.

Glacier Express Route Map

We arrived Zermatt Station at around 8:30 for our 8:52 departure, bright eyed and bushy tailed with our seat reservations already complete. We had a look at the departures board – InterRegio had a departure to Visp and our departure was also on the board, but the rest were all shuttle trains to Täsch.

Departures Board Zermatt Railway Station

Our train was situated on platform 4, which was a walk to the end of the railway and back down platform 4. You kind of have to find your own seats through the windows, as there isn’t special signage.

IMG_0882Glacier Express Train Zermatt Railway Station

Here’s the train close up – it’s pretty sleek, if nothing else (and considerably larger than the Täsch shuttles, especially with the windows).

IMG_0883Glacier Express Train Zermatt Railway Station

It took us a long time to find our seats, but we did manage to find the first class cabin in the end.

Glacier Express 902
Monday, August 25, 2016
Origin: Zermatt Gate: 4 Dep: 08:52 (08:52)
Destination: Andermatt Gate: 2 Arr: 11:47 (11:47)
Duration: 2 hr 55 min (2 hr 55 min)
Aircraft: N/A
Seat: 16 (First Class)

We went in through the door I opened to find an empty cabin – unfortunately that wasn’t the cabin we were seated in, but ours was further ahead. This cabin filled up as well, so I’m not salty or anything.

IMG_0884Glacier Express First Class Cabin

Our cabin was much more populated at the time we boarded, and seemed to feature quite a few passengers of Japanese/Korean descent. Funny enough we were seated pretty far apart, something I didn’t realise until I went over the seat reservation a few days earlier. I took the seat across the children, and the parents took their seats in the middle of the cabin.

The seats themselves are hard without much padding, and do not recline.

IMG_0886Glacier Express First Class Seats 11 and 13

To my right was a Glacier Express information packet, earbuds meant for the system (which I didn’t bother with) as well as a menu. My hopes were lowered when the information packet advertised the train as the “world’s slowest express train”.

IMG_0887Glacier Express First Class Welcome Package

The menu was rather extensive, though you can book a meal with your fare (we didn’t), which read as follows:

IMG_0892Glacier Express First Class Menu

The tray table folds out to form a rather large working space, though if you’re travelling alone you probably won’t be able to spread out too much.

IMG_0888Glacier Express First Class Tray Table

To the left of my seat were the entertainment controls, though they were only about the sights. I brought work on the train, though there was no WiFi onboard, but my second resort was to sleep. The last thing I wanted to do was listen, but thankfully it was optional, and not like an Ocean Park ride. That’s not to say that I don’t care about scenery, but to say that the actual scenery on at least the part of the ride we took wasn’t anything particularly special.

IMG_0896Glacier Express First Class Audio

The station also showed overhead, which was helpful, as there weren’t any particular announcements on where to get off (unless you were listening to the audio provided, I suppose, but I don’t think many people are gonna be doing that).

IMG_0889 Glacier Express First Class Overhead Screen

You can also hang your coat in theory, though I didn’t see anyone do that.

IMG_0919Glacier Express First Class Coat Hangers

For most of the ride, my eyes were glued outside the window. In Zermatt, outside was the Zermatt Shuttle, which was the shuttle that took you to Täsch.

IMG_0895 Views from the Glacier Express

If you’re there for the views, you’ll get some – they’re not the most spectacular views in Switzerland, but I managed to get a few pictures outside. For what it’s worth, it gets much better near St. Moritz, so I gave up sightseeing and started to work after part of the ride. The train is very slow, so if you’re looking to get at Andermatt as fast as possible, think again.

IMG_0901  Views from the Glacier Express

IMG_0906  Views from the Glacier Express

The attendant came over with drinks, but much to my surprise he skipped us. That made sense in a while, since all drinks were paid, and we didn’t have the tickets (I had mine with me, but the attendant didn’t realise that, as I probably look like a ten-year-old in Switzerland – hell, I had to ask for adult menus at restaurants). On one hand I hate that, but I’m a bit more forgiving in un-nationalised places, especially when I get under-12 rides for free.

When he returned to take my order, I asked for a coke, which was pretty pricey at around 5 CHF, but what else would I expect in Switzerland?

IMG_0907 Glacier Express First Class Drinks

The scenery got pretty nice as the ride progressed.

IMG_0913 Views from the Glacier Express

IMG_0920Views from the Glacier Express

I used the washroom, which was a press of a button past the door. It’s always amusing to see how industrialised train washrooms can be.

IMG_0914 Glacier Express First Class Lavatory

IMG_0915 Glacier Express First Class Lavatory

IMG_0916 Glacier Express First Class Lavatory

While there wasn’t any WiFi, my mom agreed to open up her Hotspot halfway throughout the train ride, so I was able to make some progress on the previous trip report I published during my time there.

After short stops in Visp and Brig, we finally arrived at Andermatt, where I once again had a nice view of the incredibly sleek train.

IMG_0925 Glacier Express Train Andermatt Railway Station

IMG_0927 Glacier Express Train Andermatt Railway Station

I realised I didn’t have the chance to visit the bar during the ride, so took a picture of it on the way out.

IMG_0928Glacier Express Bar

Bottom Line

If you want to have a nice sightseeing experience, the Glacier Express is the train for you. It goes through quite a few landscapes, and even though it’s not the best in the region, I still found it kind of inspiring.

But if you want to go from point to point using an express option, consider looking at other options, as the Glacier Express isn’t for that, contrary to what I expected. If travelling alone (I’m not sure why I’d be travelling around Switzerland again unless I had a six-figure net worth, which probably isn’t happening), I wouldn’t pick the Glacier Express. And if I did, I would choose to sit in second class next time, as the quality of the seats aren’t really that inferior (contrary to what I’ve said about flights most of the time).

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