Archive for the ‘Mountains’ Category

Train to Lucerne

November 10, 2017

Have we mentioned before how much we enjoy travelling by train? We were on yet another train journey, we had already travelled 1 hour via train from Mendrisio to Bellinzona and this 2 hour train trip was heading though the Gotthard Pass and tunnels to Lucerne. We are moving from the Italian speaking part of Switzerland to the predominantly German speaking region of Switzerland.

The scenery started off Alpine-like, with great views of snow capped mountains. It was quite an overcast and cool start to the day as we climbed higher into the Alps.

The Swiss really know how to build things, a valley? build a bridge or viaduct, mountain? tunnel through it, not enough room for a two way highway? Build another one above the original road!

viaduct leading into tunnels

one road on top of another

mountains pepping through

map of where we are travelling

past lakes

Swiss chalets

more mountains

And finally arriving in Lucerne

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Monte Generoso and Bellinzona

November 6, 2017

Monte Generoso was to be our first call today and with the skies blue it was the perfect day to do some sightseeing. We caught the train from Mendrisio to Capolago where we were to change to the rack system train to take us up the mountain. As part of our free train pass for Ticino, it also gave us a 30% discount on the scenic train to the top of Monte Generoso.

we caught the train at Capolago FFS which is where the other rail lines run, and as per the picture above it wend sits way up the western side of the mountain stopping at two points, San Nicolao (707m or 2320ft) and Bellavista (1222m or 4009ft) where some keen passengers (and dogs) disembarked to walk one of the many trails. These two stops also have passing loops for descending trains to pass.

the passing track showing the rack system down the centre between the two rail tracks. The line is 9km or 5.6miles long and is 800mm or 2ft7in gauge. It is a rack railway with a maximum gradient of 22%.

Once leaving Bellavista, the landscape changes from heavily forested lower slopes to more open meadow before reaching the summit. There was some spectacular views down towards the lakes to be seen on the way as well, however with just one of us admiring the views. This is Capolago looking straight down with the outskirts of Lugano on the far side of the Lake.

Now regular readers will know that one of us is particularly nervous with regards to heights, especially in forms of transport other than flying or walking! So by the time we arrived at the top of the mountain (1704m or 5600ft) let’s say one of us was content to keep away from the edge of the viewing platform!!! The same someone was pleased to see this sign, especially the second item from the top!!!

The terminus building was only opened in April of this year with the rail line closed to the public for four years whilst the new building was completed, so we were very fortunate to have been able to arrive once it was all completed.

the building is called Fiore di pietra, stone flower.

The views are over Lakes Lugano and Como (as seen in the following picture), with Lakes Maggiore and Varese also in view. To the north are the Alps, stretching from the Matterhorn via the Jungfrau to the Bernina Range. To the south are the Italian Lombardy Plains and the Po Valley with Milan visible on a very clear day.

If you look very carefully in the next picture you will see what looks like a causeway between the two lakes, we will be heading over this later in the day to Bellinzona.

And to prove that we were both there, my selfie taking ability is still terrible!

Time for us to descend

The view from inside the train looking down

and that’s where we have been.

Once we had reached the train station it was a 3minute wait for the next train to arrive to take us to Bellinzona. With scenes like these along the way to keep us enthralled.

We arrived in Bellinzona in time for a bite to eat before we headed off to the Municpal buildings…we always seem to strike them when they close for lunch! Never mind, we again found a lovely small bistro where we enjoyed a bite to eat and some friendly banter with the staff.

someone looking a lot happier on terra firma, or perhaps it was the local Bier that helped?!

Off to visit the records office in Bellinzona, the capital of Ticino, where three people (two of whom had no English and the third a little) proceeded to discuss our request at high speed with a little hand waving, actually a lot of hand waving. The outcome of this was the same as what happened in Mendrisio, they could not help because of the time frame. However they did provide an email address of a Catholic Archive in Lugano which we will follow up later.

Time to head back on the hour long train journey to Mendrisio, it’s been a full on day.