Saturday, September 24, 2016

Switzerland Diaries - Day 2 : The DDLJ trail

My excitement level on day 2 was super high as we were going to do the much awaited Golden Pass route and relive the DDLJ days. Having grown up in India in 90s on the staple diet of Bollywood, DDLJ has always been the dessert in the menu. I have seen the movie over and over again and have probably not left any chance to throw the dialogue 'Bade bade deshon mein aisi choti choti baatein hoti rehti hai senorita..'. So having put on the best dress that I had carried with me, we checked out of our B&B after a small talk with the owner Veronic, and rushed towards to Montreux Les Plances station. The Golden Pass train was to leave at 944 am from Montruex and we wanted to reach in time so as to get the perfect seat. As soon as we reached the Les Plances station, the husband realised that there was no train to Montreux at that hour so we rushed back to the B&B to catch a bus but the bus had just left. By this time I was panicking so we called Veronic who assured us that if we walk down the road, we would reach the station in time. 

Now normally the husband would keep away from anything remotely connected to SRK but me being an ardent fan and also a bit annoyed at the lack of planning, he kept walking. Soon we were at the station, and we saw the Golden Pass Line train arriving at the station. 

Golden Pass Panoramic Line

Golden Pass Classic Train

The Golden Pass Line has three legs but we were planning to do Montreux to Zweisimmen today. You can take the Golden Pass Classic train that offers a retro style experience. The other option is to take the panoramic ones which havewindows right upto the top offering a full view of the amazing scenery outside. We chose the latter. Whichever one you choose, its important to check the timetable and plan the day accordingly. We had a six day pass for Switzerland, so we did not have to buy a separate ticket for this. However you can also book the seat in advance to make sure you are assured of a window seat or the seats right at the front of the train. The lady at the booking counter kindly advised us that we could save some money and yet get window seats if we arrived on time so we took the chance. 

Having gone back and forth in the coaches and swapping seats two or three times, we finally settled on a unreserved window seat. Starting with Montruex, the train climbs up the lake and slowly moves into the Alpine forests and the picturesque villages with pretty houses loaded with flowers. The whole scenery appears as if God has splashed bright vibrant colours on his canvas -  divine blue sky, fresh green landscapes, the grey mountains with snow capped peaks, wood brown houses and bright yellow, pink, purple, red flowers, it all unfolds slowly in front of your eyes transporting you to fairy tale landscapes. This really is the best of Switzerland with the mountains, the villages, the rushing waterways and then the views of the terraced vineyards with the Alps defining the horizon. An absolute treat to the eyes.

You can get down at any of the stops, go around the town and take the next train ahead. Montbovan is a very pretty town on the route. You can also make a stop in Rossinière to see the Grand Chalet with its 113 windows that look out over this beautiful region or get down at Château-d’Oex and take a hot air balloon and rise up to the sky. The names of the villages then change from French into German as we move along. 

Having got an amazing seat in the panoramic train, we decided to go all the way upto Zweisimmen, keep our luggage in the lockers and then make our way back on the DDLJ trail. Remeber to carry coins else you will not be able to use the station lockers.
When we reached Zweisimmen, we stowed away the bags in the locker and I was all ready for the photo shoot. My research on the internet told me that this is the place where Kajol aka Simran misses her train to Zurich because of SRK aka Raj delays her at the platform shop while she buys cow bell thus starting the epic road trip towards Zurich. I also tried to enact running after a train, although the train was pretty much stationery and the husband was pretty embarrassed by my behaviour. I also took a photo of the shop outside the station where Kajol goes to buy the cowbell (although I very much think that it could have been any shop in whole of Switzerland). We also went around the town which was absolutely beautiful - lush green landscapes and eye popping flowers around the wooden chalets.

Missing the train

Shop near the station where Kajol goes to buy a cow bell

Around the town

Next stop on our journey was Saanen. A significant romantic part of the movie has been shot in the the beautiful villages of Saanen & Gstaad.  The St. Mauritius Church in Saanen features in the famous scene where Rahul and Simran pray together but apparently the interior of the church was shot at the St. Grat Church church in the village of Montbovon (which we skipped).

Church at Saanen

Saanen village is also absolutely stunning, and that is evident from the station. Some quick search on internet told me that this is the platform where Raj and Simran wait to catch the next train to reach Zurich.  The place on the right hand side of the station is where Kajol sits and is busy sending post cards back home. I rested there for a while reminiscing that scene.

Then there is a airstrip almost adjacent to the railway station. This features in the “Mere Khwabon mein jo aaye” song where SRK runs behind a airplane. I have to say that the husband, who absolutely despises SRK, was anything but reluctant to re-enact the scene but after much persistence and persuasion, he agreed to pose with a airplane on the strip.

The next destination was the bridge which is also situated right next to the railway station. This is the place were the most favourite 'Palat Palat Palat' scene was shot. We took several photos on the bridge and I also requested the husband to call out 'Palat' as I walked away but I kind of turned back and looked the first time itself lest he changed his mind to stop me the third time.  This bridge also appears in 'Tujhe dekha toh ye jaana sanam' when Kajol dances in a long black dress with SRK in a black suit.

"Agar ye tujhe pyaar karti hai toh ye palat ke dekhegi"

If you love walking trails then you can also walk from Saanen to Gstaad and its a pretty walk along the river. We didnt know that at the time and we took the train instead. Gstaad is a popular ski destination but we were in Switzerland in August and the only thing on my mind that day as DDLJ. Its a small yet charming town and you can go around the town probably in an hour or so. The main promenade is a car-free one and is lined up with amazing gourmet restaurants and touristy shops, a bit overpriced as well. Husband and I were starving by now so we decided to sit down and have a lunch before I continue my mad chase around DDLJ.
Part of the song 'Zara Sa Jhoom Loon Main' was shot on this promenade where Kajol runs around a bit drunk. It also features towards the end of the song where both of them return in a horse carriage. Also on the street is the Early Beck shop where Kajol turns the shop upside down creating a havoc.

Gstaad Promenade

 Gstaad Promenade

Early Beck Shop

We went around this beautiful town soaking the Alpine beauty before we made our way back to Zweisimmen. The natural beauty along this entire route from Montruex to Zweisimmen is far beyond what words can express and if you are in Switzerland, you cannot miss this trail, if not for love of DDLJ, then atleast for the love of Switzerland.

We picked up our luggage and took the Golden Pass train along the next trail - Zweisimmen to Interlaken. Interlaken is a very popular tourist destination and the main gateway to the popular mountains of the Bernese Oberland region. Its surrounded by lakes - Lake Thun and Lake Brienz and it seemed to be a fairly big town as we walked around the main street. There are major photo opportunities with stunning Jungfrau mountain in the background. Along this road you can also spot the famous Victoria Jungfrau hotel which now even has a 'Yash Chopra' suit.

In front of this hotel is also shot the famous scene where SRK plays a prank on Kajol (after the ruk ja o dil diwane night) and sprays water on her face while giving her a rose.

View of the Junfrau mountain

This is the place where SRK plays a prank on Kajol

Victoria Junfrau Hotel

This was the end of day 2 as we were super exhausted running, jumping and going around soaking the beauty. We had a swiss speaciality for dinner called 'Rosti' and made our way to our hotel.



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