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Trip Report Tales of a falling woman in Switzerland

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I had successfully completed 27 days of travel in Italy using train travel. I have some mobility/health challenges which I needed to consider when planning my travel in Italy and Switzerland. To understand what I mean by this, you could read my trip report on my travels in Italy - “Tales of a falling woman”. I shan’t repeat my health issues here. Suffice to say that they did influence my ambitions in Switzerland but I remained keen to visit Switzerland. I planned to enjoy art, museums, scenery, people and any etcs that happened along the way.

I arrived in Milan from Bergamo (Italy) to board a train to Brig in Switzerland. I planned to spend 3 weeks in Switzerland before returning to Milan from Tirano. I would then spend a few days in Milan and day trip to the Borromean Islands. Then I planned to board a train from Milan to Rome to fly home to Australia.

Planning
I researched Switzerland in terms of art, museums, scenic sights, accessibility, accommodation options and (most importantly) train services. I decided to base myself in Spiez. I also decided to invest in a 1st class Swiss Pass as this would enable me to get on trains when and where I chose for the duration of my stay and it ensured my comfort on the trains. Because there was no guarantee I would reach Switzerland (mobility challenges in Italy) I decided not to purchase my Swiss Pass before leaving Australia. I decided to purchase it in Brig, Switzerland.

So today I am continuing my “Leap of faith” journey.
I’m assisted onto the train in Milan with my luggage (I received assistance from Salablu for Italian train service throughout Italy). I have no idea how I’m going to manage getting luggage off this train when I arrive in Brig. I have emailed Swiss Rail regarding this but have received no reply before boarding this train. I conclude that if the train is level with the platform (ie no stairs), I will manage. If not, I have a problem. I will also need to make my way to the office (with luggage in tow) to purchase that Swiss Pass and then back to a platform to continue to Spiez.

I’m enjoying my journey when a Trenitalia chap comes through doing a Customer Satisfaction survey for Trenitalia rail service in Italy. He does not ask me. He should have! He would have received a positively glowing report.

I hear the young woman a couple of seats up speaking perfect English on her mobile phone. When she has finished I ask her if she knows whether the platform at Brig is level with the train? I explain that I would like to get a Swiss Pass in Brig and then go on to Spiez. Turns out she is Swiss from Bern. She will be catching a train through Spiez to Bern. She asks why I need to know and she immediately offers to help with my luggage.

When we arrive at Brig my new friend takes my luggage to the train on the adjacent platform which is waiting to go through Spiez to Bern. She asks a guy to look after it until we return. I’m a bit concerned at leaving my luggage with a stranger but it is padlocked. I’m tempted to fetch out my bicycle security strap and lock it all to a seat but I resist my paranoia. We go off down the ramp, down the tunnel and I join the queue down the front of the station to buy my Swiss Pass. She goes off to shop across the street. Helpful strangers are my heros.

I’m watching the departure board because there’s a family in front of a long queue and it’s beginning to look like my Good Samaritan who’s gone shopping and my luggage are going to sail off without me. It’s more likely she may feel obliged to get my luggage off the train and wait with it for me to come back which may ruin her plans for the evening. Neither of us would be able to contact the other!

I reluctantly abandon the queue and I charge/limp back up to the train and get my luggage. The chap minding it says (jokingly) you don’t look like the person who left it here – you are much redder in the face and you have a more pronounced limp. All I can do is puff and laugh. I limp back to the queue with my luggage in tow (courtesy of my dog collar). I get my Swiss Pass and charge/limp back to the platform. The train is still there. I was looking at the wrong train on the board. The chap who was originally minding my luggage asks me if I could please do it all over again as it was so much fun to watch! You’ve got to laugh at life.

My Good Samaritan friend also gets on the train after doing her shopping. It’s an interesting scenic trip. We have a great chat on the way to Spiez. She’s concerned that Switzerland is propping up the Euro. It’s her conclusion that Switzerland probably has more euros than Europe does. We arrive at Spiez, she wishes me a happy holiday. I catch a taxi to the hotel. I knew exactly where the hotel was and that it was close by down the hill, but I err on the side of caution. I apologise to the taxi driver for the paucity of his fare and give him some extra.

I’m in Switzerland and I’m at my hotel! What a view!

Tomorrow morning I’m off to Zurich for the day. I had booked for an art exhibition which is only open on the first Sunday of each month. This is why I wanted that Swiss Pass yesterday.

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