Journal: Switzerland - August 2018

For more than a year, I had been trying to figure out an overseas vacation for John and I, as John had never traveled outside of North America, despite having traveled pretty extensively throughout the U.S. and been to various areas in Canada. While I wouldn't necessary consider myself an extensive world traveler, I had already been to eight countries on four continents, and really felt like an international trip would be an experience John wouldn't forget. Ideally, I wanted to go someplace neither of us had been before, where we would be safe and get by with limited language skills, and where there were plenty of opportunities for adventure. So after debating a variety of destinations ranging from Iceland to Belize, we landed on Switzerland because it turns out John has a Swiss friend.

His friend Martin ended up helping us design our itinerary and Martin and his girlfriend Nadine served as our hosts and tour guides for the first part of our trip. Without them, we wouldn't have been able to hike the Morteratsch glacier, never would have known about the absolutely beautiful mountain biking trail we spent a day on, or discovered radler (also called panache, basically a shandy consisting of half beer, half lemon-lime soda or carbonated lemonade, and super refreshing when stopping at a mountain cabin in the middle of a day of hiking). I feel confident saying that having Martin and Nadine as in country adventure companions made our trip a whole lot better than if we had attempted to research and coordinate everything ourselves. As is typical with vacations, I didn't pull out my DSLR camera nearly as much as I should have, but John and I did take a ton of phone photos, and Martin is also pretty into documenting his adventures so he took a ton of amazing photos of us and the scenery during the first part of our trip.

The photos below are a mix of those taken with my 5D Mark II and a 24-105mm f/4L IS lens that my friend Aaron loaned me for the trip, along with photos that Martin took. I've done all the editing in Lightroom, but I've been careful to credit Martin when his photos have been used.

Engadin, Switzerland
Engadin, Switzerland
Engadin, Switzerland
Engadin, Switzerland
Engadin, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland

Our day by day itinerary, in case you were wondering:

  1. Fly to Zurich. Take train to Buchs. Drive around Liechtenstein. Stay overnight with Martin and Nadine in Buchs.
  2. Travel by car to Morteratsch. Hike over the Morteratsch glacier and stay in a cabin overlooking the glacier. 
  3. Day hike up to higher elevations then hike out to Diavolezza and drive to our hotel in St. Moritz in the Endagin region. Overnight in St. Moritz.
  4. Mountain biking in Engadin. Stay overnight in St. Moritz.
  5. Take the Glacier Express train to Zermatt. Note: The views from this train in the summer were not particularly outstanding compared to what we saw while hiking, driving, or taking other trains, and it makes a lot of stops. Because it was technically a scenic train we had to wait for commuter trains at tunnels, so it felt like it was really slow and took a long time, and wasn't nearly as relaxing as I expected because there were constantly tour groups getting on and off the train. It might be worthwhile during a different time of year, but I'd skip the Glacier Express in favor of the regular commuter route in the summer. Stay overnight in Zermatt.
  6. A day of exploring Zermatt, hiking in the surrounding area, and trying to spy the Matterhorn through the clouds. Stay overnight in Zermatt.
  7. Train and cable car to Murren, Lauterbrunnen where we explored the town, stared at mountains, spied the Eiger, and stayed overnight.
  8. Return to Zurich. Dinner in the city and stay overnight.
  9. Breakfast at our hotel in Zurich then fly home the last day.