Gornergrat Bahn: A Leisurely Train Ride Through The Mountains

Picture out the window of a train car of the Gornergrat Bahn, a railway in the Alps Mountains.I loved this picture as soon as I saw it.

It immediately conjured up a sense of taking a leisurely trip through the mountains. All the while sipping coffee and munching on snacks, snapping pictures out the side window from time to time but mainly just enjoying the surroundings and crisp mountain air.

I recognized the mountain peak in the background as the world famous Matterhorn of the Alps mountain range, but didn’t know anything else about what I figured must be a spectacular train ride.

Turns out this train is part of the Gornergrat Bahn, a railway that goes to a part of the Alps that overlooks a glacier called Gorner Glacier.

Some people take the Gornergrat Bahn mostly to take in the stunning views, and who could blame them?

But once they do get to the station at the top they have the option of getting some other kinds of recreation in as well. A bit of skiing, nice meals at a restaurant, some shopping in at a little mall, and even staying in Switzerland’s highest hotel –the Kulmhotel Gornergrat– which apparently has some cool observatories at the top.

Picture of the Gornergrat train station with views of the Gornergrat Glacier and the Matterhorn.For other people the train ride and station is only a prelude to their real adventure. They use Gornergrat Station as a jumping off point for a backpacking trip deeper into the mountains.

That sounds like a pretty awesome time to me :D.

The best part is that you’d have a nice leisurely train ride on the way to the station that would help you get into the mindset for backpacking. And on the way back, a nice relaxing train ride to decompress from your adventure and get a last bit of mountain scenery in before your trip is over.

May 2, 2013
Travel Philosophy

Whoa This Is Not How I’d Want To Sleep, How About You?

Picture of men who are rock climbing sleeping in sleeping bags while hanging off of a cliff.Welp, it’s been a hard day of climbing and pulling yourself up the mountain bit by bit has taken it’s toll.

Time to get some shuteye so you can recharge for tomorrow’s climb.

Okay so all you gotta do now is hang your sleeping bag on the side of the cliff and… go to sleep. No biggie right?

All I can say is holy crap just looking at this picture almost gives me a heart attack. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to actually sleep that high in the air with nothing next to you other than a 1,000 foot drop.

I guess if you’re already into rock climbing at that level then sleeping while dangling off a cliff is just part of the adventure. But that’s a little too much adventure for me thank you very much lol.

In case you can’t read the lettering on the picture it says:

“For me the most fun of climbing was bivouacking, getting up in a wall and sleeping in god-awful conditions, in hammocks or just hanging from your ropes all night trying to sleep.

You really get into the rhythm of the wall. It’s all about the process, not the goal.”

-Yvon Chouinard

First off, damn they just slept while hanging from their ropes sometimes, that’s hardcore.

And second off, I’m struck by the part where he talked of it being about the process and not the goal. That’s such a similar sentiment to the happiness and travel quote by Margaret Lee Runbeck that was posted here a couple days ago.

The whole ‘it’s not about the destination’ thing is definitely a universal truth (though a hard one to put into practice sometimes) and it’s really interesting to see how often it pops up in different aspects of people’s lives. One thing is for sure, I need to practice this philosophy more!

March 5, 2013

Travel By Tiger To A Hidden Monastery

Picture of a Buddhist monastery on the side of a mountain.Imagine what it would feel like to turn a corner out on some hiking trail and then suddenly see this amazing building in the distance.

Like something out of a strange dream, the white walls seem to have grown right out of the sheer cliffs of the mountain. What a scary adventure it must have been for the people who hauled the materials up the mountainside and then build this place.

And maybe even pretty scary for the people who live there now, those golden rooftops sit right under boulders that look ready to break off at any moment!

When I first saw this picture I immediately thought it was some Buddhist monastery in Tibet, which ended up being a pretty close guess. Turns out it’s a Buddhist monastery in Bhutan and is known as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery.

The unusual name comes from a legend that says the founder of the monastery flew from Tibet to that spot on the mountainside on the back of a tigress. He then did some intense meditation in one of the caves there and afterwards emerged in 8 incarnated forms, making the site a holy place for Buddhists and devotees of the guru.

I’m not sure exactly what 8 incarnated forms means but maybe that’s what you need to survive living on the edge of cliffs like that. I don’t have a magic tiger but I’d definitely visit that monastery if I had the change, if only just to see what it looks like on the inside and meet the people who live in such a magical environment.

(Picture by Soham Banerjee, thank you.)

March 2, 2013