The train trip over the alps from Italy to Switzerland was supposed to be a high point of our trip – you got that didn’t you? “High” point?
We wake to the sound of our bell, Benino, chiming and open the shutters for one last look at Varenna and Lake Como before we start the next leg of our adventure. It’s raining. No worries, it’ll stop before we head to the station. It doesn’t stop. Fortunately, we spotted a local taxi service so we can get to the station nice and dry. I’ll just call them. “Ciao.” “Er, can you take us to the train station?” “Si.” “At 9:45?” “Si.” Well, that’s all sorted.
Now we’re standing on the platform at Varenna Station, which is more a railway siding than a station. The rain is bucketing down. A couple of other trains have picked up passengers, so we know the drill – wait until your train pulls up on the un-covered second track, check there is no train coming the other way, and then struggle across with your bags in the rain. We can do this.
Tirano. Still raining. We have to find our way from the Italian station to the Swiss one. Not too hard as they are right next to each other. Why not just make one station you ask? Because they didn’t. We kill some time watching the Swiss rail system in action. Everything runs like clockwork so it’s no surprise that our train, the famous Bernina Express, gets underway with us safely on board exactly on time. We have pre-booked the super platinum service, which means we have a full panoramic view of the rain from the comfort of our luxurious leather seats. Wow – look at that mountain that you can nearly see through the gap in the fog!
As we ascend higher and higher into the Alps our ears pop and the rain lessens. I’m relieved when it stops altogether, but Nanette just comments, “of course it stopped. We’re in a different country!” We now have four hours of spectacular scenery ahead of us. “Quick – take a picture of that lake.” Too slow – got a tree. “Look – there’s a waterfall.” Oops, tunnel, will need to delete that one too. We realise it’s impossible for a camera to capture the amazing things the eye sees so we just settle back and enjoy the fantastic journey across the top of Europe.
Finally, we pull into Chur. We don’t know where our hotel is so Nanette asks one of the rail guys from the train. His response? “I’m finished for the day.” Yep, we’re in Switzerland all right. Hey, what’s that noise? Oh goodie, there are church bells chiming everywhere. Sort of feels like home now.