Apr. 5th, 2010

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It was still snowing a bit when we woke this morning, but it was nothing like as heavy as it had been last night.  The clouds had lifted slightly though and so we had a bit of a better view of St Moritz from our balcony before we set off, after breakfast. 

Whereas yesterday the roads had been clear, this morning they were covered with snow, and Michele drove very carefully down to the train station, where he dropped us off.  The plan had been that we would all go on the Bernina Express down to Tirano, and Michele would drive through a pass and then meet us there, but because of the amount of snow which had fallen yesterday the pass was closed and he had to drive the long way around.  I was still impressed to see him in Tirano to meet us on time, though!

The train journey was amazing.  We started in St Moritz and the line winds its way through the mountains before reaching the southern part of the Swiss Alps, where it descends into the valley and terminates at Tirano in Italy.  The carriages are heated and the windows open so it's possible to get some really good photographs as it goes along, without having to worry about glare from the windows.  To say that the scenery was breathtaking is doing it a bit of an injustice really, but I genuinely can't think of any other word to describe it.  There were feet upon feet of snow, massive icicles, buried buildings...  I've just never seen anything like it.  The further south we went the more the skies cleared as well, so we had some stunning views of the mountains and glaciers.  It made us realise just what we must have missed yesterday with the low cloud, but we decided in the end that having the chance to see the snow falling made it a decent trade off because we had such good views today.

We reached Tirano in time for lunch, which we had in a little restaurant near to the train station.  I had a gorgeous home-made lasagne and some garlic bread - delicious!  We then just had time to have a quick walk around (it being Easter Monday most things were closed) and then it was time to get back onto the coach, heading for Lake Como.  Lake Como is massive, but it's not the largest of the Italian lakes (although it is the deepest).  I can't even begin to imagine how big the largest one must be!  We drove along the shore for a while and then had a stop at a really pretty town on the lake called Menaggio, where I had a massive chocolate ice cream which was almost as good as the stuff from Langage Farm.  Almost, but not quite...

From Menaggio we headed along the ludicrously narrow road that runs along the western shore of Lake Como and then crossed the border back into Switzerland, heading for Lugano.  The hotel we're in tonight is something of an oddity, in that it has a funicular railway running through the middle of it!  The trains were running until quite late and then started just after 5.00am, so it was a bit noisy but other than that it was comfortable.

We found out when we arrived at the hotel that Pedro off of Pedro and Marina isn't actually called Pedro at all, but is instead called Fernando. This was discovered because Flo always finds out what rooms we're in and then comes back onto the coach and calls our names and then tells us which room number we have, and she called his name as Fernando Alvarez. Heaven only knows why we thought he was called Pedro, hehe!

This evening we had an excursion, which was a boat trip on the lake and then a meal in a restaurant right on the lake shore.  I had a broccoli soup and then there was lots of grilled meat, sausages and fish, with risotto rice.  It was absolutely delicious!  We sat with a couple from Wolverhampton called Glenys and George, who were cracking company, and it was such a good night.  After we'd left the restaurant we had another short trip across the lake, including seeing a really attractive church on the shore which was all lit up, and the casino at Campione, which is massive!  Once we got back to Lugano we had just a short walk back up to the hotel, where we headed straight to bed, in the hope that the funicular wouldn't disturb us too much!

Lots and lots of photos today! )


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