|Market Place at Locarno|
|The Eurocity train to Venice|
|Passing a Centovalli Express|
|Lunch in Locarno|
Thursday was to be the centrepiece of the package but it was hard to see how what we had already done could be surpassed. We packed our bags and the large cases were taken away to the station to be transported separately to Chur for the next few days of the holiday, while the group walked together after a lighter-than-usual breakfast to the street platform outside Brig station to board the famous Glacier Express.
The train actually runs from Zermatt to St Moritz, and a complete First Class panoramic dining coach had been reserved for our party, complete with tablecloths and folded napkins, glasses and cutlery all ready for lunch. Once we had sat down orders were taken for coffee or aperitifs (we had coffee: it was still not yet noon!) and we gazed out at the landscape as our train began climbing into the hills. This is another metre-gauge train and most of the time moved along smoothly like a normal train, but in a few places the rack-and-pinion system was used to take it up and over some steep climbs: it would have been used most of the way down from Zermatt before we boarded. Each of us had a pair of earphones which could be plugged into a socket on the seat to listen to commentary at selected points of interest along the journey, announced by an audible alert and a speaker icon on the information display, and we each had a map showing the location of these points of interest. So much to take in: the meal, the scenery, the route map and the commentary.
|The Landwasser Viaduct on the Albula Line|
While waiting for our train onwards to St Moritz we saw a snow plough brought out of its shed and all its equipment tried by the staff after their lunch break. It looked brand-new and we could imagine them working through the handbook and trying everything out, or they may simply have been checking it over before the forecast snow later in the afternoon - snow which began on our way back to Chur from St Moritz.
After an hour in Poschiavo we boarded the train which climbed its way to StMoritz. Again we had about an hour there and were able to see the frozen lake on which had been created a horse racing circuit with stands and all the usual paraphernalia. The contrast between the cold and snow at St Moritz and the sunshine and relative warmth of Poschiavo, just a short distance away but much lower, was striking. Our train back to Chur from St Moritz soon rejoined the line by which we had come and we experienced the same winding track again. It is really confusing to pass the same landmarks twice on the same side, or on opposite sides, or both, sometimes several times. By now it was snowing and really atmospheric: difficult for photography but great to experience. The following day was another “free” day and on arrival at Chur we shopped for food for the day: we were not sure what we might do but we'd need a snack either at lunchtime or in the evening.