Day 21 ~ Stunning Switzerland, an evening in Italy

I spent last night on a night train from Amsterdam, through Germany, and ending at Zurich Central, with one goal in mind – The Bernina Pass through the Engladin Valley in Switzerland. The Bernina Pass is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and ends in Tirano Italy, where i had my hotel reservation for the evening.

This stretch of my trip was made possible because I purchased my rail pass during a special promotion, which meant that I got 2 free days of rail travel. The rail pass wasn’t going to be super helpful in Paris, so I decided the take a whirlwind trip though Switzerland, and after today, I am SO thankful I did.

I had researched my path through Switzerland, and because I was limited on time, knew that an extensive hike wasn’t going to work, but I really wanted an opportunity to explore the Alps – and my option came in the form of the wonderful Bernina Diavolezzo Cable Car – which wasn’t exactly cheap at 36 CHF round trip- but I am sure you will agree from the pictures – totally worth it!

This plan left me with a  slight problem – I of course had my luggage with me, and zero desire to trek that up to the top in the cable car (and if truth be told – with the number of trains I needed to transfer to, I really wanted to travel as light as possible) – My option came to me while I was enjoying a beverage on the train before I went to sleep – the luggage lockers at Zurich – It would totally be worth the 10 – 20 dollars to stash my large bag there, and only take with me the things I needed for the next 24 or so hours. So, I repacked my bag, with the intent of taking my small backpack and purse with me today, and leaving everything else in a locker.

I disembarked the train in Zurich, and began my quest for the left luggage office or the luggage lockers – thankfully this wasnt a tight transfer, because Zurich central is a maze of escalators, levels and shops – but I finally located the lockers, stashed my bag, and headed to the platform to catch my train.

The first train went to Chur, and while the scenery was pretty, it was very similar to what I had seen through Germany and Amsterdam. I will admit, I didn’t sleep great on the train last night, and I dozed off for about an hour. When I woke up, I was in awe – the mountains, beautiful glacier streams and lakes and just the awesomeness that surrounded me rendered me absolutely speechless.

From here, the more I wound into the Rhaetian Railway the more amazed I was – and I could clearly see why this Railway is UNESCO listed – the engineering and design that went into constructing this railway system is unbelievable. The Rhaetian Railway consists of 165 bridges, 55 tunnels and stretches from Thusus to Tirano – and the views – even in the rain were absolutely spectacular. It seemed that while it did rain quite a bit, the rain went away when needed. I will let the pictures do most of the talking, because I am quickly running out of adequate words to describe the beauty I have seen today. The Rhartion railway is a engineering  feat – it is the only railway that climbs mountains without a rack and pinion. 

I did get off the train at Bernina Diavolezzo, and when the cable car arrived at the top it was pouring, and VERY chilly – thankfully there was a restaurant on the top, and I sought shelter (and a warm coffee) inside while I watched the storm clouds roll over the Alps – then about 45 minutes later the sky cleared, and I was able to go go back out and do some hiking around for a couple of hours, then I boarded the cable car to return to the train station – and the bottom fell out – perfect timing! I huddled under the train awning – then ran onto the train to continue my journey – it rained a few more minutes on the train, then cleared again in time for me to get more spectacular views of the last half of the Bernina Pass.

I enjoyed the scenery, and arrived in Tirano with time to spare. I boarded the Il treinto gallo (The little yellow train) and took a tour of the city before headed to my hotel to check in. I checked into the hotel, then strolled around enjoying the lovely evening in Northern Italy.

Tomorrow I will do the route in reverse, the head to Paris to meet Joy and start my Parisian Adventure – my last stop before I head back home.

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