Today we traveled to Lugano. We took Bernina Express Train to Tirano, Italy. The views were absolutely spectacular.
The train was very comfortable and we were able to put the windows down to take the photos.
The train stopped at the Ospizio Bernia station, which is at an elevation of 2,253 meters (7391 feet) above sea level and that is both the highest point on the Bernina Railway and the highest station in Eastern Switzerland. The Bernina Railway is notably the highest rail crossing in Europe. It was opened 1910. The station is on the shore of Lago Bianco.
Shortly after passing Alp Grum which is last station on the line in the Ramansh speaking part of Switzerland (at 6850 feet), we crossed the Brusio Spiral Viaduct (a single track line arched stone viaduct) and began to spiral down around tight curves and spiral tunnels with a gradient of up to 7%. Both Shirley and I took several photos as the train went over the viaduct and around the spiral track.
Our train is coming around the spiral.
Here the train has gone almost all the way around the spiral and is passing by the viaduct again.
I copied a photo from the web of the Brusio Spiral Viaduct because it was taken from above and really shows the spiral.
We made a 10-minute stop at Covaglia to let the oncoming train pass on the track so we all got off of the train to walk around. I think the train station was very cute.
We passed the Miralago Lake which was very beautiful.
I loved the town we passed that was surrounded by green grass.
As we passed through one town the train was closer to the road than any train I have ever seen.
Originally we had planned to take a bus from Tirano to Lugano but when we were in Pontresina, we discovered that the bus was fully booked. So our plans changed and we decided to take the trains.
We got off of the Bernina Express in Turano, Italy. Because of the stop in Covaglia, our train got into the station 5 minutes late. That meant that we missed our train to Monza by 2 minutes. Bummer. Shirley said something to the young conductor on the train about how Swiss trains were never late. I wish I had video taped it because his reaction was so cute.
We decided to make the best of the situation by eating gelato as we waited 1 hour for the next train.
We had to transfer trains again in Monza. The delay in Covaglia not only caused the one-hour delay in Tirano but also caused us to miss the train in Monza to Lugano by another hour.
Shirley and I both noticed that the train station in Monza was filled with many North African male refugees. We went across the street to sit on a bench in the shade at a park across the street from the train station. We were only there for a couple of minutes when a police officer came over to talk with us. He told us that we had to be very careful because of all the refugees. We talked to him for several minutes and learned:
- There are 140,000 people living in Monza.
- France, Austria, and Switzerland all have closed their borders to the refugees so many of them are stuck in Monza.
- 5% (about 7,000 people) are refugees.
- They are given food, housing, a bicycle and money for a short period of some time to find a job. But after the limited period of time, they are sent back to Africa.
- The police patrol the train station both inside and out because the refugees hang out around there in groups.
When we arrived in Chiasso (last town before we entered Switzerland), police officers got onto the train. We heard them say, “Open, Open,” and realized that they had found an immigrant in the bathroom and put him off of the train. We also saw them take another man off of the train.
It is hard to find words to express my feelings about what we learned and witnessed. The situation in our world is so sad. What are these people to do? Are there any solutions for the countries that are dealing with the immigrant situation? I was feeling so sad and torn.
When we arrived in Lugano, it was very hot. We took the Funicular down from the train station and walked to Hotel Pestalozzi using the GPS on my phone. We are lucky to have a corner room with 2 windows. They gave us 3 fans which was very nice of them.
Tonight we took a walk down to the lake and took a walk along the lake. It was enjoyable to watch the people and the swan in the lake.
We had a so, so dinner at the hotel restaurant. It will be cool enough to sleep with the 3 fans going.