We arrived back “home” in Manchester a bit weary but more than satisfied with our trip to Italy and Switzerland. Here are some random thoughts as we wrap up our trip.
It was an all-public transportation trip. Over the last 10 days we traveled by bus, plane, subway, trolley, boat, Uber, and, of course, train. It is quite an experience for Americans who are fully immersed in the car culture to travel totally as passengers on public transport. It certainly is nice to look out the window or read a book while someone else handles the trip!
This journey was, of course, all about the trains. Jackie and I enjoyed the Italian high-speed trains. They are big and roomy; smooth and quiet. Our Swiss trains, of course were all about the view.
The trains we traveled on in Switzerland were all narrow gauge. That means the tracks and, therefore, the cars are narrower. Most of the time it didn’t make much difference but, on the Bernina Express it did. We were in second class where the seats face one another in groups of four. Jackie and I decided it would be better to spend the four-hour trip looking at one another (and with both of us having window seats). That meant two other passengers on the full train sat beside of us. They were nice people, but they didn’t speak much English, so we spent those hours listening to them speaking French to one another and to several other family members on the other side of the train car. While traveling in second class worked great on all the other journeys we took, I think we’d opt spend the extra money and go for first class if we were ever to take that excursion again. The first-class cars have two seats on one side and one seat on the other. Much more room.
I confess that photography on the train was a challenge. The train keeps moving and there are reflections in the windows. I just took lots of photos and then deleted most of them, leaving only the ones I thought looked best.
If you ever plan on traveling by train in Europe, check out this web site – I got tons of great information there: https://www.seat61.com/ is a great resource.
Jackie and I were really blessed with the weather. Not only was it unseasonably warm, but it also didn’t rain or snow on us the entire trip. We couldn’t have ordered better weather for a January in the Alps!
My biggest budget miss was the cost of food. Switzerland, in particular, was very expensive. Just a hamburger and fries were over $20 a person. When traveling, we generally try to eat one nicer meal each day, and then, in the evening, eat a sandwich, etc. Even that approach was a challenge. We often went to a grocery store and bought ready-made sandwiches with chips to take back to the hotel for supper. Those sandwiches usually ran $7-8 each. Two of the “best” deals were German Doner Kebab restaurants (lots of meat!) and many pizzerias. I do like pizza, but not as a daily staple!
I researched hotels on Google, trying to find highly rated ones, for reasonable prices, that were close to train stations. We were satisfied with all of them. All but one offered breakfast with the stay. The breakfasts were pretty good.
I’ll close out my writing with this. Thanks to all who have read along. Comments are always welcome and encourage me to keep writing. All of the posts in this series can be easily found in our travel blog: http://localhost/pastorscott/travel/tag/italy-switzerland/