Let us take a break from the nether world of politics and in particular from denizens like Jeff Flake and John Mica … and talk instead about two Swiss trains that are absolute musts for anyone who enjoys and appreciates scenic train rides: the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express.
I rode both these trains on a European trip probably 20 years or so ago, boarding the Bernina Express at its Italian terminus, Tirano. To say it was a breathtaking ride simply doesn’t do justice to the experience.
We began by climbing up through the magnificent Valtellina Valley – at one point trundling up a circular viaduct (photo above) and continuing on up and over the Bernina Pass. At an elevation of almost 7,500 feet, we passed literally just a few hundred yards from a magnificent glacier.
On the four-hour journey from Tirano to Chur in Switzerland, the Bernina Express takes you through more than 50 tunnels and over almost 200 bridges. I clearly remember the one shown in the photo below; I was damn near hyperventilating by the time we reached the far side. The train plods along at 30-40 miles an hour, but most of the time you wish it would slow down to give you more time to stare and snap photos of the magnificent mountains and valleys. And by the way, you do all that staring and snapping through huge windows that are, as you would expect, spotlessly clean.
At Chur, its Swiss terminus, we spent the night in the small-but-charming Hotel Stern, then boarded the Glacier Express the next day for another stunning four-hour ride to Brig. I’m going to make that same trip in October – from Chur to Brig on that magnificent train – then take one of the local trains on to Zermatt the following day. Nothing more about it now, but I’ll post a report on that trip in October … with photos.
These two trains deserve to be included on any list of the top ten scenic train rides in the world. So go ahead … pull out your bucket list and mark ‘em down!