I pulled back my hotel room curtains and was greeted with bright blue skies shining on the river below. This was fantastic news as the scenery on my train journey would only be enhanced by the bright sunshine. A brief stroll through Tirano and I was at the RhB station (this is the Swiss railway station) which is right next door to the Italian railway station I arrived at yesterday.
The Bernina Express is the famous train that runs along this route, but it bypasses the short branch to St. Moritz where I was staying, and in my opinion isn’t the best option. The local trains that run every hour are actually no slower than the “express” and with some canny ticket buying (let me know if you want advice about this) are a lot cheaper. The express trains have panoramic windows, but the local ones have windows that open which is much better for photography – I certainly made the most of that today.
After leaving at 11am we ran through the streets of Tirano before climbing slowly upwards. The first point of interest was the Brusio Spiral, where the train makes a complete loop on itself as it makes a steep climb.
Next, the train runs alongside the beautiful clear waters of Poschiavo Lake, and then as it climbs higher the lake becomes a tiny blue dot as the route twists and turns up mountainsides and through short tunnels.
An hour or so into the journey the train looks down on the beautiful Lake Palü (first photo below) and then arrives at Alp Grum station. Everything looked so stunning I decided to get off the train and stop for a drink at the station buffet and to take in the incredible scenery and fresh mountain air (although the sun was really warm too).
Getting on the next train an hour later we passed the highest point of the route at Ospizio Bernina station (2253m above sea level). Here you are alongside Lake Bianco and look up at the snow capped Piz Cambrena mountain.
From there the train descends slowly past mountains, glaciers and Alpine streams and runs into Pontresina station, where the express diverges and the local train I travelled on makes the 10 minute journey into St. Moritz. I got off the train on such a high after the most spectacular train journey I’ve ever been on.
St. Moritz is famous for its ski-ing and the extravagant tastes of it’s visitors. But this is off-season and I am not known for a huge amount of extravagance, so I was looking forward to a couple of days of r+r. The town is split into two, Dorf on a small hill overlooking the lake where the train station is, and Bad at the far side of the lake where many of the hotels are, including mine. I walked round the lake and checked in at my hotel, The Laudinella.
The hotel is 3 star, with half a dozen restaurants and a bar, and also allows guests free access to a pool and spa just up the road, where I spent a lovely couple of hours (the pool has incredible views, more on this tomorrow). I then got the bus back to Dorf to have a look around – it’s quite pretty with plenty of high end shops, and I enjoyed a beer with a cracking view of the mountains.
It’s quiet though, only a few people milling about, the majority are out hiking or mountain biking, and when I got back to my hotel they had all descended on the restaurants. Drinks prices here are a tad expensive but affordable, however the food is extortionate. After searching Bad in vain for a reasonably priced restaurant, and watching the sun go down over the lake and mountains, I gave up and ordered a pizza from the hotel snack bar to take up to my room. Later on I tried the bar but it was completely empty, I guess people retire to bed after dinner if they’ve been hiking all day. No matter, an early night will do me good, and today’s train journey will live long in the memory.