The Bernina Express is a gorgeous big red train ( the kids call it the ' Toy Train' ) , luxurious seats and even a high tech toilet , I kid you not! It travels the Bernina Line which is now under The Unesco World Heritage Site. There are 2 places where you can take it from, both on the East of Switzerland, Chur and Davos.
We started from Chur ( there's only 1 train/ day per way from the 2 locations ), at 8.30am. It travels through little mountain villages and slowly makes its way up the Alps. From green pastures, the train slowly chuges along until we are face to face with ice age old glacier high up! The train runs on a single track so it takes its time but that has to be the most beautiful train ride I have ever taken. The route is a quiet deserted one, going through Alpine jungles, crossing high arc bridges over deep ravines, broken only by a few stalwart hikers, it is eerily silent ( picture the train that goes to Hogwarts, thats the scenery :) )
The red train taken from my window in the 1st Carriage as it goes through a circular viaduct !
A pond from a melting glacier some 2000m above sea level
The Bernina Line slowly makes its descent down into the valleys and makes its final stop in Tirano, which is on the border of Italy, a total of 4 hours. We hopped off and had some Italian pasta ( things were in Euro's again ) and hopped on the Bernina Express Bus that would take us back into Lugano, Switzerland. The bus travels through little Italian towns with its killer curves and narrow roads. Tip, those with motion sickness, so not recommended! But I sat right up front and had the most awesome view as the bus passes by the quaint towns and blue lakes, travel time 3 hours.
Lugano has the flair and taste of Italy but the price tag and efficiency of the Swiss ! Some call it heaven on earth, it is a beautiful touristy little town right on Lake Lugano.
By the Lake Lugano
The view from Lugano Train Station
Reservations for the Bernina Line and The Bernina Bus is Chf8 / person and is compulsory but thats all you need to pay if you have The Swiss Pass, details, here. If you don't want to take the bus back to Lugano, you can make a reservation to return on the Bernina Line to Chur, Davos or St Moritz or stop at the last Swiss stop which is Poschiavo and take the Swiss regional train to your next Swiss destination. From Tirano you would have to take the Italian train on which your swiss pass will not be valid. Note , there is only 1 Bernina Bus per day so make sure you have a reservation !
And there you have it, THE END. hope you enjoyed the pictures, but seriously, they don't do justice to the real thing, it is something that has to be seen and experienced to be believed :)
Till next time, signing off from me in windy rainy Rotterdam :(