Highlight: The train rides through the Swiss Alps.
Lowlight: First day traveling alone.
Money spent: 76 Swiss francs
Pairs of clean underwear left: 8
Swizterland may be a mountain fortress, but I had no problem just walking in.
I woke up this morning, only to discover there was another 24 hour rail strike in Italy. I was so close to finally moving on, only to be stopped again. I was considering taking the bus, but the lady at the hostel said they were probably on strike too, but I could hike to Switzerland. It was only 3 km away, but involved some really steep hills. I was up to the challenge and intrigued by the idea of hiking across the border. So, I strapped on my pack and started walking.
On the way up, I was passed by several transit busses that could have taken me to Chiasso (the Swiss town just across the border), but I was already determined to hike to Switzerland.
It took 50 minutes to walk from the hostel to the train station in Chiasso. The Swiss border crossing had a special line for pedestrians and after I walked through I had my passport stamped by the guards and continued on the train station.
At the station, I discovered that there was a train leaving in 10 minutes that would get me into Lucerne an hour earlier than if I had left from Como. As an added bonus, trains within Switzerland didn’t require reservations (unlike Italy), so I saved myself 5 euros and an hour of travel time.
My journey through Switzerland was outstanding. The trains are new, clean, and efficient, and the views out the windows are breath-taking. Swizterland is the most beautiful country I have ever visited. Everything is so lush and green. As we zoomed along between the mountains, you could see glacier-fed waterfalls streaming down mountain-sides.
This afternoon I stopped in Lucerne for a few hours. By the time I arrived I was getting lonely (something about a long train ride alone), so I bought a small teddy bear and named him BenG (or as he later became known “Ben Bear”). For the rest of the trip, he will be my companion.
Ben Bear and I really enjoyed Lucerne. We saw the weird bridges, the weeping lion monument, and climbed the medieval wall and towers that ring the north part of the old city. The only low point was when Ben Bear was attacked by a cat. I guess that justifies his long standing fear. I bandaged up his shoulder and bought him a Toblerone bar to cheer him up.
So far, Switzerland is full of shops selling Swiss Army knifes, Swatch watches, and Heinkel knives (are those even Swiss?). Everything is expensive here. I think the rest of Europe was expensive too, but it was tough to tell because of the Euro. Here, the Swiss Franc is almost 1:1 with the Canadian dollar, so I’m acutely aware of how ridiculously expensive everything is.
The ride to Interlaken was even more beautiful than the ride to Lucerne. I hope I get good weather so I can do some hiking. I saw so many amazing areas outside the window from the train.
I’m staying at Balmer’s Herberge, the big hostel in Interlaken. It’s a pretty cool place. I booked myself on a canyoning trip for tomorrow morning as soon as I arrived. Looking forward to tomorrow.