Europe by Train: Over the Alps to Zurich

We’d gone to Italy for the soul and were now heading to Zurich for friendship—to visit one of my very oldest friends, married to a Swiss. After leaving Bologna, we connected through Milano, the station just as you would expect for this fashionable city, grand and elegant.

I haven’t mentioned yet the Man in Seat Sixty-One, This website has proved invaluable over several train (and ferry) trips, and I can’t recommend it enough. Based on his advice, I buy the tickets online and have never had a problem…only great adventures.

Milan is near the border and soon we crossed into Switzerland…and began climbing, our glued to the window. This is picture-postcard land, little need for words.

We continued our scenery-watching in the dining car, complete with white tablecloths and even bigger windows. Perfect for sipping espresso and watching the mountain villages and lakes pass by.

My friend met us at the Zurich railway station, spacious and orderly, and drove us to her home overlooking the lake. Carol’s village was a steep walk uphill so later we piled back in the car to visit it and her office, from which she publishes the monthly Historic Motor Racing News. She is quite a woman, but that is another story (perhaps for one of my books)! 

The next day we visited the Old Town and had a fabulous lunch at LaZoupa, where her husband, the company’s founder, arranged a delicious tasting menu out of their international range of offerings. He met us there, arriving by electric bicycle.

Like Bologna, Old Town is pedestrian only, divided by the Limmat River, which flows into Lake Zurich. This side is hilly and vibrant, known for being “edgier” than the left bank with its designer boutiques. Crossing the bridge, we were enthralled with the crisscrossing ferries and boats, the peaky Swiss spires.

I wished we’d had time to visit the illustrious old Opera House. 

I wished we’d had time for more explorations of the city and the magnificent countryside, but I was focused on my friend, catching up and getting to know her husband better. They are a great couple and we parted sadly, cherishing a connection that has taken us through many lives—and that’s only in this one.

Carol put us on the local train that would take us to the central station, promising that it would arrive exactly on time. It did.

Downtown, we boarded the TGV, the Train àGrande Vitesse. By an anomaly of online booking, our first class tickets on the Zurich-Paris line, Lyria, cost little more than second class—lunch and wine included! We were off for Paris and the Van Gogh Trail.

Leave a Comment