Express from St. Mortiz to Lugano
else but Switzerland can you find yourself transported
from crisp, cool Alpine peaks to sultry Mediterranean
heat and palm trees in a matter of several hours?
I marveled over this several times as a shiny yellow
Postbus took me from St. Moritz to Lugano, Switzerland
one day this past summer.
The Palm Express scenic route was not high on my list
of routes to travel on while in this tiny country
- as diverse in landscapes as in possibilities for
the traveler. I preferred to try the fabled train
travel, yet convenience had me on a traditional postal
route where the only thing traditional besides a portion
of the route (only part of it is actually to deliver
mail) is the three-note horn that sounds as the bus
rounds the hairpin turns.
the bus left the lakes of the Upper Engadine, traveling
past forests and mountains, the driver managed to
hug the road over the Maloja Pass and during the descent
into the villages along the Swiss/Italian border.
As the bus temporarily traveled into Italy we were
greeted with madcap driving and a cacophony of horns,
and the smooth roads and even smoother Swiss driving
were doubly appreciated. When I could tear my eyes
off the road to glance out at Lake Como, and then
at Lake Lugano, we returned to Switzerland and arrived
in the shopping mecca of Lugano, and I knew the trip
had been worth the ride. The other routes would still
be there for another time.
are so many possibilities for the traveler in Switzerland,
it almost seems a shame to rent a car, although that
too is made simple. Driving is on the right, and distances
are marked in kilometers. Speed limits translate to
75 mph on freeways, 50 mph on highways and 31 mph
in cities and towns. Maps and signs are clearly marked
and roads are clear - even over mountain passes -
or they are closed and traffic is rerouted.
while driving you miss lingering over the incredible
scenery. If you choose to drive, elect to experience
the other modes of travel as well. There are more
than 13,000 miles of train, bus and boat routes across
the country. These make up the Swiss Travel System
- STS. The system has special offers available to
make traveling through Switzerland economical and
efficient. These offers include passes of different
durations that allow travel on a variety of transportation.
The passes are available at travel agencies, railway
stations and at Switzerland Tourism Offices. For information
call 011-800-100-200-30 toll free or visit www.rail.ch
of the best ways to enjoy Switzerland's travel network is
by taking one of many scenic routes throughout the country.
The popular Glacier Express train (linking Zermatt and St.
Moritz), William Tell Express (a lake cruise and train ride
starting on Lake Lucerne and ending in Locarno or Lugano),
Bernina Express (a train and bus journey from Chur to Tirano),
and Golden Pass train (from Lucerne to Montreux) are just
four of the possibilities. Seat reservations are required
in advance for these scenic journeys.
course, the rest of the trains in Switzerland are equally
remarkable. Trains run frequently on a regular schedule. In
addition to the trains running from the Geneva and Zurich
airports into the cities, there are direct trains to other
Swiss cities leaving from the airport stations. With Switzerland's
Fly/Rail Baggage Service you can check your luggage at your
home airport and have it delivered by train to your end destination.
To make things even more convenient this can also be done
in reverse, from a train station to the Swiss airport where
it will be put on your flight home (U.S. carriers excluded).
are modern, with air-conditioned cars, either dining cars
or traveling snack food carts, and many are equipped to provide
passengers with enhanced cell phone reception. Many trains
feature special compartments to transport bikes - which can
be rented from many of the stations if you don't happen to
have your own. The rental bikes are transported for free,
while others are stashed for a minimal charge.
is another great way to transport yourself in Switzerland
- at a much more leisurely pace. There are over 9 national
bike routes comprising 2000 miles of groomed and well-marked
trails. In addition to train stations, there are other locations
to rent bikes, and if you rent a bike at one train station,
you can drop it off at another during working hours. There
are also 50,000 kilometers of walking paths in Switzerland.
700 scenic Postbus routes, 170 vessels serving 20 Swiss lakes
and rivers, countless mountain railways, aerial cableways,
funiculars and ski lifts, there really is no end to the ways
you can travel through and explore Switzerland. Where else
but in this tiny country, known for its transportation, would
you find the highest railway station in Europe, the oldest
mountain railway in Europe, the world's first revolving aerial
cableway, and the steepest cogwheel railway in the world?
Transport Museum in Lucerne
getting there and back isn't enough to impress you, pay a
visit to the Swiss Transport Museum in Lucerne, presenting
transportation and communication in the past, present and
future. Swiss Travel System ticket holders receive a 35 percent
discount on admission, making it even easier to love transportation
more information on all of the above and more visit www.MySwitzerland.com or call Rail Europe at 800-4-EURAIL.