Postcard 2 – Billy no mates tour of Switzerland

The weather forecast could be better but the morning seems promising so I’ve been on the app and booked tickets to Luzern. It’s the 9:15 change at Orten and only 8 minutes to get the connection but that’s two hours away so no need to worry now. The number 5 drops me at the railway station and I’m ready for an oat latte.

Since I became lactose intolerant it’s been a bit of a test in the different countries who would allow me to be ‘intolerated’ and who would look out for me. Spain comes out best followed by Switzerland, Italy and UK but USA is appalling, They don’t give a shit, if you’ll pardon the pun, provided they can make the sale.

Anyway, the guy asks me if I really want the oat because he has lactose free proper milk. I tell him he’s a star and accept the ‘treat’ with gratitud. It’s time to sit outside and watch the city begin its wake-up ritual. People-watching whilst sitting in the sun with no expectations of spreadsheets and numbers is a pleasure and watching the individuals scurrying about their business makes me appreciate this lack of pressure even more.

It’s ten-to-nine so I decide on a quick recce of the trains and platforms as some of these stations are vast and as I check the monitors I see a more local train that’s going direct to Luzern and whilst it stops a few times, there’s no changes so I drift up to the platform to check on its occupancy.

It’s a double decker! That get’s a big tick in the box. It’s only got a half dozen passengers in the carriage so there’s a bonus tick and I jump on and turn off my ticket for the later train (but keep it on the app just in case).

I then trigger the new one for this train hoping for zero hassle with the conductor as I hadn’t done this on Swiss trains so I’m not sure of its acceptability. Because of the speed of the decision to change the route I hadn’t mapped the journey. This is a schoolboy error as I take a seat on the less interesting side and ten-minute in I realise. On this train which has plenty of spare seats it’s not an issue but I lay the experience down in my head for later use when there may be fewer seats.

The lake is on the right and, generally speaking, the water side of the carriage is the one to be. There are mountains on the left but I’lll get plenty of them later.

The top deck of the carriage has a play area for children complete with ladder to a little deck area and a pretend boat with one or two other devices to keep them amused. There are no kids on today so they’re not in use but what a great idea!

As we travel deeper into this part of Switzerland we gain elevation and the French language becomes less prevalent.

The fields are becoming more meadow like. They’re very reminiscent of the the beautiful meadows in upper Swaledale which are now a protected world heritage site and a controlled proportion is removed to re-establish them in other parts of the country, they could and may-well do that here. When I was at junior school Miss Wise would read us a story last thing in the day. She read a chapter at a time and we were never in a hurry to leave. It was Heidi and the meadows here are exactly how I remember them being described as Peter brought the goats to the higher pastures in spring.

A new passenger, a lady with the little one becomes more noticeable as she sings wonderful nursery rhymes in German to her child and I know every tune and there English words but not sure if they match – I bet they do!

I’ve noticed that most Swiss have four official languages. Depending on the region they have French, German, Italian and Romansch which is derived from Latin; however, where there is any difficulty they resort to English which is not an official language but surprisingly widely spoken.

We leave Zofingam for Luzern and, although the carriage is sparsely populated, the conversations are now wholly in German.

This country is incredibly diverse but there appears to be little friction, I love it.

The journey is a treat and whilst it’s not yet in the Golden Ticket category, as a means of getting there, it’s faultless.

There’s another treat when I go up the mountain but I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

Enjoy the snaps. G x

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