Bernina Express and Zurich

Trip Start Aug 12, 2012
Trip End Sep 26, 2012

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Flag of Switzerland  , Zurich,
Thursday, September 13, 2012

When we left Florence, it was in a state of readiness to tackle the unknowns of the following two days. Firstly we had to get to Milan, where we would board a local train for Tirano (not to be confused with Torino - which is Turin). We had accommodation booked at the The Hotel Bernina, across the road from the Swiss-run rail service up the very pretty mountain route to the city of Chur. From there it was another 1:15 train ride to Zurich, our final destination.

Thank goodness our ticket to Milan (or Milano as the Italians speaka da) was for the correct day and the trip was uneventful, that is as uneventful as any Groat passage could be. We left the train at Milan and sat for a while to get our bearings. I went to to a ticket machine and tried to find tickets. A tout came up and helped me navigate through the screens directing me to Torino, which luckily i rejected. He then asked me for money. I’m a sucker and I paid. By then I was panicking, as the train left at 14:20 and it was already 10 past the hour. The machine rejected my credit card and so I told Melien that we would have to try and book through the ticket office. That meant we would miss the connection to Tirano and the next was 2 hours later. Melien wasn’t happy and neither was I.

Downstairs, using the lift, we found the ticket office had then usual long queue, but I was patient, after all we had 2 hours to kill. Finally I reached a very helpful official, who provided 2 single tickets to Tirano, which unlike the electronic tickets, were open bookings for any time.

We went up to the main station again to a pizzeria, where we ordered cups of tea and sneaked our home-made sandwiches out of the brown paper bag. Melien asked the time and I noticed that it was 1:54 pm. What a dill! We’d arrived at 11:30 not 1:30 as in my panic I had thought. We had time to catch the very train we thought we had missed! We moved quickly to the correct platform, loaded the baggage and settled back for a local train ride.

Tirano is a lovely little village in the foothills of the Alps and the journey to Tirano passes through some very pretty countryside. The farmers make the most of the soil available and plant their crops on terrace in the mountains. observing this and the beauty omf the lake and the distant snow-capped mountains occupied the time, which passed quickly.

Not only was the village a picturesque spot, but also the hotel, in our opinion was one of the best we had stayed in. The room was spacious and modern, as was the bathroom. The people at the front desk extremely polite and helpful allowing us to store our luggage for the two hours until the train left the next day.

A lovely meal in the restaurant was only spoiled by the duck and the beef both being too rare to eat. We sent them back, but a little of the magic was lost at that point. Our train the next day left at 2:10 in the afternoon and that allowed a nice sleep-in, which we both appreciated after the hectic 5 hour previous day’s exercise. A quick miniature train ride around Tarino convicted us that nothing prior to 1700 existed here (a bit like Zurich turned out to be).

On the Bernina Express, panoramic windows and reasonable company plus the beautiful scenery kept us entertained all the way to Chur, our last stop on that line. The conductor was even kind enough to sell us the two tickets to complete our journey to Zurich. “Just get out of the train in Chur and the next platform is the train to Zurich.” he said. For a modest €30 we could reach our destination comfortably and on time, which we did. However, the taxi drivers would not accept either Euro or credit cards, so we legged it again. Poor Melien, she had least to carry but was the least able. I towed the suitcases and we walked and stopped, walked and stopped (using Mr Google) until we reached the hotel.

Tired, but hungry, we dropped our luggage in the room and bought food at the hotel restaurant. Big mistake! 118 Swiss Francs for a burger and a sandwich (plus beer and wine) seemed a bit of a bad cop. Never mind, a good sleep would clear away the pain.

The next day we rehearsed our walk for the next train journey, bought some lunch and took a tour of Zurich, the lake and the cable car ride. Show the pictures, Mr Magic Man!

The next few days we stay with our friends. More about that later. In the meantime, I’ll say goodnight to those in Australia and good afternoon to our UK and German friends.
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