Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lunch in St. Moritz

While Bellagio and the Lake Como area are beautiful, we decided to take advantage of our proximity to Switzerland and have lunch in St. Moritz. Yes, I know how that sounds "lunch in St. Moritz" good grief, next I'll be telling you we joined George Clooney and his gang for dinner! (we didn't, but sure kept a look out for him.)

None of us had been to Switzerland, so when we heard that you could do a day trip, we decided to go for it. As everyone we talked to mentioned, it was a 'big day', but a lot of fun and some really beautiful scenery.

The trip started with a very early morning car ferry ride to Varenna. Once in Varenna, you catch the regional train to Tirano. Since it's so early, you either have to buy tickets in advance (which we did the day we hiked to the castle), stop at the cafe along the route and hope they have tickets, or try to find the conductor once you board the train. The train to Tirano was around an hour and a half if I remember correctly and the route is pretty - along the lake for a while and then into the Italian countryside with the pre-Alps off in the distance.

In Tirano, we picked up and paid for our tickets for the Bernini Express - a train that is not express by any means, but takes you from Tirano to St. Moritz. You need to reserve these tickets in advance on line to make sure you can get a seat and then you present that reservation at the ticket window in Tirano to get the actual tickets for the train. Luckily, a helpful information kiosk employee alerted us to this setup a few days before we went.

After a funny breakfast where we needed help ordering eggs because the owner didn't know English and we don't know Italian, we were off for the next leg of the adventure. The trip was around 2 hours, I think, and stunning scenery. Unfortunately, because the photos are through the train window, they don't do the scene justice, but I think you'll get the idea.

And before we knew it, we were pulling up to the station in St. Moritz. We walked around town a little - there's a beautiful lake just outside the train station and then stopped at an information booth to figure out how to get up the mountain for lunch. This is the lake just outside the train station.

We walked through town, which felt a bit like Abu Dhabi with all the high end designer stores. St. Moritz is very expensive and a haven for the rich and famous to ski in the winter.  We didn't really have time to shop, but did manage to purchase a box of Swiss chocolate!

The next leg included a funicular which takes you up the mountain to the different ski lodges. Had we spent more time in St. Moritz, it looked like there was some wonderful hiking in the summer, but our goal was simply lunch.

We got to the top (actually not the top, but as high as we had time to go) and had lunch at one of the ski lodges. Super expensive but an amazing view and pretty good food. Unfortunately, because of how the lodges are situated, it was hard to get a good photo that wasn't out a window. Here are our best attempts.

And then we were off for the trip back home. It was a day of travel so that weird kind of busy, but sitting around a lot. The trains were really nice, though, with comfortable seats and a snack car in case you needed something to eat or drink. The windows were huge so you had a great view (which is the whole point after all).

When we arrived back in Tirano (after the Bernini express and before the regional train back to Varenna) we saw this cute little train giving tours of the town. Unfortunately, we only had time to stop for some cold cuts, wine and cheese.

We got back to Bellagio around 9pm (we had started at 6am) so it really was "a big day" but well worth it for the views and to now say we've been to Switzerland.

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