On Sunday 26th September we travelled from Bologna to Zurich, via Milan. The first part of the journey was very good. We were on the new high speed line and did the 215km in just over an hour. The only excitement was when we got on the train and found 4 mature Americans trying to get out of our, and others, seats. “We don’t have reserved seats on American trains!” they said. “We do in Italy!” said the man in front of us. So, as we settled in, we watched as they retrieved their bags and struggled to their assigned seats two carriages along. And their bags were many and large. I don’t think they will make the same mistake again.
Our connection for our Zurich train was accomplished and we set off. We had been upgraded to first class and we had good seats and a large window and lots of space. We were at the end of a carriage and the end door was being temperamental and would not close. Despite that a great journey through the Alps beckoned.
After a little while I asked Chris, “Can you smell a bad smell?” She agreed wholeheartedly. The man on the other side of the carriage had his handkerchief over his nose, and his wife was fanning herself. The smell – rotten cabbage was the most accurate description – increased every time the brakes were applied. There were lots of stops so brakes were applied frequently. The ticket collector said there was a technical fault with the train but seemed to think that was the limit of his responsibility. I suspect the toilet was leaking below the carriage and some of the effluvia was adhering to the brake pads. When the brakes were applied they heated and the noxious odours permeated into the carriage. And, because the end door could not be closed, we could not confine the miasma to the carriage entrance.
But the scenery was spectacular and could be enjoyed, as long as one breathed shallowly!
We got into Zurich on time and walked across the road to our hotel which was the best one we had on our journey. I suspect that it was also the most expensive. But it was perfect. Every need was foreseen, even the ones you did not know you had. Glass of orange juice as you arrive, electrically adjustable bed, Italian marble bathroom (marble with garnets!), internet access everywhere (at no extra cost – unlike Bologna), champagne breakfast – the list is endless.
After settling in we went down to reception and asked for a recommendation for a “Typical” eatery and were told to go to the Zeughauskeller. When we found it, it was wonderful. Big, crowded, lots of tables, lots of beer and hearty food. I had a selection of sausages and rather a lot of beer and Chris had a huge wienerschnitzel and a tiny bit of beer. But, like every place in Zurich, it is not cheap.
On the Monday morning we walked round the older part of Zurich and took some photos. The highlight was seeing some new stained glass windows in the Grossmunster church, made by someone called Sigmar Polke. Many of them incorporate real agates. Pictures of these and others taken in Zurich are shown below.
At 13:02 Zurich time, 12:02 London time we left Zurich. At 20:34 we got into St Pancras – eight and a half hours, two trains and an hour and a half wait in Paris. The highlight was travelling at 200 mph across Northern France, and me being the only person to notice that we were going fast!
At St Pancras we transferred to the rather slower train to Loughborough and got there just after 11. We were there to stay with Chris’s sister and to pick up our cold weather clothes. It was good to slow down and not be on the move all the time. And while we were there our niece had her first child, which was rather good.
Now we are back in Bristol, staying at Chris’s brothers house and sorting out stuff before we set off round the world.