Route 66: 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Paisano European Tour 2010 - Day 6

 Day 6 is September 12

Today we hit the road or rail, if you prefer and are on our way to Lugano.

What a day!
Got to the airport & rail station & had to wait until they opened.  One woulda thought they would be open 24/7.  They weren't/aren't, so of course, we deal with it.  Before leaving the US, I purchased the Swiss Rail Pass and paid extra for the first class option.  It seemed like an Awesome idea.

As we got our opportunity to talk with the gate/rail agent, we got the pass validated and then...we were told that the 1st class coaches for the Bernina Express were full and we would need to travel second class.  By the way, the Bernina Express line is from Chure to Lugano.  As you might remember, we're in Zurich at the moment.  Zurich is a rail trip from Chure, where we start the Bernina adventure.  Oh yeah, we also hear that the bus from Ticino to Lugano is full.  We were told that we would need to book the bus online.  Nice thought, but since I wasn't traveling with my laptop AND there was no time to use an internet connection at the station.

The train from Zurich to Chure was fine & clean.  I had never really ridden on train before, so most of this week in Switzerland was a new experience for me.  We traveled nearly exclusively by train all over the country.  It was definitely a great experience AND a learning experience.

The Bernina Express Line was very cool, but since we were in second class, it was a touch full & well rather tight and small.  We sat next to two young German students.  One of the poor guys was blowing the whole time.  Luckily and good for us, there no sniffing or other yuck like Americans teens all too often do.

During this trip I got TONS of pictures.  This trip was amazing.  We went past several lakes and glaciers; ALL the scenery is Beautiful!  There were several places on the way that went through great small Swiss villages & towns.  During this particular trip I started thinking about future trips & how cool it would be to take a bike, (that would, of course, be Motorcyle), trip over here.
When we got to Ticino; which is very near, (as in the office sits Right on
the border), with Italy.  I spoke with the gal at the counter and found out that the bus was full, (that was part of the price…), so I had to get us a train to Lugano, where we were staying for the night.  We had a choice of going back the way we came for part of the way or to go on the Italian side.  I generally hate to go the same route on trips, so I opted for the Italian side.   Unfortunately, this again cost us.  The good part of this trip was that we got to travel through the Italian countryside, lots and lots of interesting stuff.  This trip was from Ticino to Monze via the Milano line.  This adventure "allowed" us change trains in Monze & then then head to Chiasso.  At Chiasso, we change again and head to Lugano.  Luckily, for these two traveling Americans, the trains in Europe are pretty prompt & are a viable mode of transport, so other than changing several times and lugging around luggage…(apparently, that’s where the word comes from),  it wasn't bad, except that for whatever reason, most of the stations we were in (in Italy) didn’t have ramps, so I got to haul bags up & down stairs at every station change.  This part of the trip was a bit stressful.
Finally, we get ourselves to Lugano & we think that things will be golden from here out, well, guess what…
We stood in the que to talk to a Very frustrating, sweaty, absolutely Worthless "customer service" agent, to try to book tomorrow’s trip to Lucerne on the Wilhelm Tell Line.  The classic line we heard was;  “you need to do that more than 24 hours in advance”.  I next asked about the following day’s trip, (Golden Pass Line from Lucerne to Montreux.  Conveniently he couldn’t do that because "they" were closed.  Seems to me that he just didn’t want to help out at all.  Luckily, this "gentleman" was not at all representative of the rest of the assistance we got, throughout our trip. 
By this time, my veins popping out f my head & said “gosh darn it!"
We ended up taking a taxi to our hotel because I just couldn’t figure out how to get there from the station.  I guess my head just wasn't working any more at that point.  We get to the hotel & I was totally not feeling great about it, but we got our stuff out of the taxi and up to the door.  There was no discernible way to get in & there was a note on the door that said “go around back" or some crap like that.  I hit the intercom button and got a very nasty lady on the line yelling at me about the stupid note.  We start walking around the block with the bags; because the hotel is in the middle of the block and there is no other way to the back side.

I finally get smart and find a place for Mom to sit down and hang out with the bags.  I finally figure out how to get into the bar area where the “reception” area is supposed to be.  I see the keys, but of course there’s no one around.  The phone on the bar is supposed to be used to connect with "someone".  I try but can't reach a soul.  Unfortunately, I'm just getting more frustrated by the second!
As I get out of the other place, I remember seeing a Holiday Inn, so I walk to that, get checked in and we spend a night there.  What an ordeal.  Our other hotel was pre-paid, so I have to fight them on that.  The day's meals were a total of one granola & gelato.  Our dinner at the Holiday Inn was poor because of a tour that had the dining room completely filled up.
After dinner, I called Swiss travel folks & got no where fast.  This day was Very frustrating, but we had a place to sleep & that’s important.  Through it all, Mom has been a real trooper.  No complaints & she kept trucking.

After all was said and done, we still had an amazing day, we got to hang out, had great conversations and learned a tremendous amount about life.  The pictures, as you can see here were pretty awesome, too.

Cheers for another day and I can tell you that the trip got MUCH better the next day.

You know, in looking back over this post, I realize that this really had a pretty negative tone.  While all of what was said here was/is true, the trip, the experiences and the time spent with Momma were well worth the price and I'd definitely do it again.  I just have a great many things I learned along the way.  One of the most important things I learned was that being kind to those around you and open to Everything that the Higher Power chooses to send our way allows us to experience SO much more than we would if we just sat in our little box at home.

Peace to you all.


  1. As You, I find it much easier to see the positive sides of a really messed up day when looking at it in retrospect.. When I'm in the middle of it, even if I know I'm gonna laugh at it later, I still get REALLY P***d O**!!
    I've had two trips to Switzerland, and I really enjoy that country! It looks like I'm gonna get to go back later this fall, and I'm really looking forward to that!

    Looking forward to the rest of Your story!


  2. Writing this post was probably cathartic for you but..."Gosh Darn it" seems so "polite". But you were in front of your mom. It's hard to swear in front of octogenarians (I have a lot of practice in holding it back like that!)

    PS - I think I see a bike on that bridge in pic #2

  3. Thanks Morten! It was beautiful there. I learned lots & saw some great stuff. I learned a lot from you & look forward to hanging out again.

    Thanks Kathleen, writing has been helping, I think. I tell Mom that whole "Gosh Darn It" thing and when I said I said it, she rolls her eyes & says, "Sure...". Hey, it 'could" happen like that. I SO need to have my bike in Europe.