May 22, 2001
At the foot of the high bluff separating St. Moritz from the railstation, the Sillersee is still frozen and snow-covered this March morning. We’ll skirt it for several miles before heading into the mountains that make this an acclaimed ski resort.
Today, I’ll experience two contrasting worlds: Alpine winter, then the warm spring that’s already come to the lush valleys of the Italian border region. Chilly breakfast in St. Moritz, dinner in shirtsleeves in Milan.
I’m on an unnamed, unpublicized local train across Bernina Pass --- just as icy and snowbound as yesterday’s ride on the Glacier Express but much sunnier. My railpass allows me to ride First Class, but I’m back in Second because the windows open. I’m photographing the play of sunlight on wind-sculpted snowdrifts as the normally red locomotives turn golden in the reflected light. A gingerbread-house restaurant, classic Swiss, makes a great photo, as does a deep valley that appears as we round a curve.
My Swiss train, operated by the privately-owned Rhaetian Railroad, terminates in Tirano, Italy. I’ll have two hours to explore this small, pleasant city before boarding a fast express for Milan. No more photography: the windows are sealed and the train is far too fast. But the magnificent shoreline of Lake Como, which we follow for miles, is still a pleasant sight.
Many travel books rank the Glacier Express as one of the world’s 10 most scenic train trips. Too bad they failed to discover the ‘Italian Connection’ over Bernina Pass.
From journal 'Glacier Express' Over the Alps