January 2023 – We took a trip to Switzerland by train, leaving from our local station in Uddingston.
We started on a damp grey January evening, and got the Scotrail local train into Glasgow Central. Once there, we stopped for a celebratory glass of champagne (or two) before boarding the Caledonian Sleeper for London. The sleeper leaves at 11:40 pm, but you can board at 10pm. Drop your luggage and head for the bar for a nightcap and maybe some light supper.
Not everyone can sleep on the train, but if you can, it’s a great way to arrive in London nice and early. The better rooms have their own showers, otherwise ask to use the showers in the Virgin lounge when you arrive at Euston. Make sure you ask for a shower voucher, as it’s no longer automatic entry for sleeper customers (I understand that this is now chargeable – best check).
We booked one of the newer double bed cabins, introduced as part of the recent refurb of the service. It’s a decent bed, and much better than the old bunk bed option for two travelling together.
Next stop was St Pancras to catch the Eurostar to Paris. It’s close enough to walk, depending on your luggage situation. Trains run regularly, but it’s best to book in advance to get the best price. Top tip – if you have a Platinum Amex you can use the business lounge at St Pancras even with any ticket.
Eurostar was an time and arrived in Paris at lunchtime. We grabbed a cab, and headed to our hotel near the Gare du Lyon, chosen for an early start in a couple of days.
Two great nights in Paris later, we nipped across the road to Gare du Lyon to board the 07:25 Frecciarossa to Milan. These are fabulous trains, newer than the French TGV, and with something called Excellence class. The seats are better than many business class airplane seats. Non-stop prosecco and a good breakfast and lunch are served.
One night in Milan at the excellent Chateau Monford, including a delightful birthday upgrade and then we jumped on the local stopping train to Tirano, which would be just another commuter train if it didn’t happen to pass Lake Como on the way.
Enjoy some fantastic scenery, and then on to the charming Italian village of Tirano. The station here is split into an Italian section and a Swiss section. From here you can catch the Bernina Express into the Alps – highly recommended. Plan some time to have lunch in Tirano, I highly recommend Posteria del Rosso for incredibly good food at reasonable prices, and an excellent wine list.
The Bernina Express has to be one of the world’s great train journeys, and incredibly good value. It takes a route up into the Alps through increasingly stunning scenery, over 196 bridges and through 55 tunnels. One warning – there is no onboard catering, however we did spot a couple of locals getting the guard to run into a shop for them as the train made a stop.
We arrived at St Moritz, to find our driver waiting for us. He picked up the luggage and took it to the waiting Rolls Royce – did I mention that this was a special birthday trip and we were really pushing the boat out?
10 minutes later we arrived at the amazing Badrutt’s Palace Hotel. Set above the lake , this old classic hotel exudes charm and, well, money. It’s eye-wateringly expensive, but everything is done so incredibly well. They have an amazing outdoor spa pool, where you can lie in warm water admiring the surrounding Alps. There are also a number of expertly run bars where they do provide perfectly made martinis.
Two nights later, we got up to enjoy breakfast, complete with a harp rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ – did I mention is was posh? Plenty of breakfast champagne later and it was time to check out and catch our next train. This was the one I was looking forward to, excellence class on the famous Glacier Express. All the way across Switzerland in absolute luxury. and comfort, with the finest food and wines.