Monday, February 11, 2013

All Aboard the Bernina Express

We must have brought snow back from the Alps because it's coming down pretty steadily in Como today. Cole just might even leave work early if the roads start to look bad! From our balcony window, it's just beautiful. Eva loves looking out and she's now just tall enough to tippy-toe and peek over the very edge of the window. Hopefully it stops after a few hours and we can get outside to enjoy the winter wonderland left behind! This will probably be the last snow we see this winter. We are hopeful that the rest of February will be sunny and warm.. but who are we kidding?!

Saturday morning we left Como and drove north along the lake to Tirano to board the Bernina Express, a well-known train that climbs into the Alps from northern Italy. We have been meaning to drive around the lake for awhile, and wow! What a gorgeous drive it was! The day was sunny and Como is simply a beautiful  lake, set at the base of the pre-Alps, known to be one of the deepest lakes in Europe. Tiny, colorful towns dot the shoreline. The entire area makes you feel like you've stepped back fifty years or more. It's interesting geographically, too. There are tropical plants and palm trees all around you, but you can look up and see snow capped mountains in the distance.

We chose a two-hour ride, opting to end at St. Moritz and return Sunday. We knew that would be just about all Eva could handle - first taking a long drive up the lake and then boarding a train for several hours. Unfortunately when we arrived, we were told that the first leg of the train ride, Tirano - Poschiavo, would be a bus trip instead. Ugh! It was a disappointment, but only a small leg of the trip, so it worked out fine. Several months ago, there was a rockslide that left a small portion of the tracks under construction and, obviously unsafe for now.

So we boarded the Bernina Express in Poschiavo. This was a special train-riding experience. The windows of the cars went completely to the top of each car, even curving a little towards the roof. It made all the difference - the views were spectacular and these extra big windows allowed us to see panoramic views of the Alps.

I keep trying to explain to Cole how peaceful it made me feel, but I can't quite find the words. The train was really quiet - even the other passengers were hushed. (Except for Miss Eva... She was very good, but definitely more chattery than everyone else!) You know the incredibly peaceful feeling you get looking at fresh, untouched and sparkly snow? That's kind of how I felt - almost the entire ride. It's like God was saying, "Shh! Look at what I created!" The views were breathtaking. Before Pontresina, our train stopped at Alp Grum and we were able to hop off to take photos there, which was nice. I have no idea how to take good photos through windows - many of my train-riding shots have a ghost-like figure in them... Cole's reflection! So it was nice to be able to get outside for a few shots in the fresh air.

There's MORE to this story... our hotel stay proved to be quite an adventure in St. Moritz. For now, let's just say we stayed at the most expensive "hostel" ever.