After a nice morning stroll along the front at Lake Garda, we departed Desenzano at 12.20, and arrived at Milano Centrale at 1.30. We then boarded a Lucerne-bound train, departing at 2.20. We passed by Lake Como. My friend, Neil, maintains that this lake is much more beautiful than Lake Garda. Lake Como appeared to be a much smaller lake, dwarfed on all sides by towering peaks, as if protecting precious contents within the crystal blue waters. A photographer's paradise.
At Chiasso, not long later, we crossed into Switzerland. It is five weeks since we first entered Italy. Today, we say goodbye. Tutto bene. It's a great country. Goodbye pizza, pasta and gelati. Hello Swiss chocolate and muesli.
European countries' borders have often been dictated by geography. The scenery changes almost immediately when you enter Switzerland. You see more tunnels, fir trees, and several-storied A-frame houses. And you see mountains that reach for the heavens, whose crests extend some distance from left to right, and whose ends plunge dramatically to the ground. They resemble giant sleeping beasts that command awe and respect. And there are so many of them. At first, they're completely covered in pine forests.
For a while, we pass through towns with Italian-sounding names, which eventually give way to German-sounding names like Göschenen, Altdorf and Brunnen. The deeper into Switzerland you travel, the mountain tops head for the stratosphere, and are partly pine forest covered, with sheer, rocky walls higher up, and neat, green slopes lower down near the valley floors. A river suddenly appears, obviously fed by the trickles of water that carve their own pathways down from the great heights.
More than an hour inside Switzerland, we have passed a lake. Many mountains' lower slopes are dotted with towns and villages. A cornfield appears near the railway line. We cross a narrow river, and pass a town called Schwyz. After Arthur-Goldau, it's non-stop to Lucerne. On the way, another lake arrives. Here, the mountains shrink while the settlements rise up the slopes. Unexpectedly, the landscape smooths out, becoming rather flatter. More cornfields arrive, and the hills return.
Throughout the trip, two boys chatted up two young Chinese girls, moving to sit right next to them. The girls' English was good, and they dealt with the sweet talk quite well. One of the boys, who I think were native Italian speakers, told one of the girls about 50 times that he liked her. Some time later, nearly at Lucerne, I asked Jean if we should say something to the boys. Jean shrugged. I then got busy with a blog post, and stopped concentrating on the romantic young men. I didn't hear the request to be left alone. The moment Jean rose from her seat and spoke to the boys, I knew there was trouble. For the next couple of seconds, during which there was silence, I was busy trying to save my post, lest I lose it. I then also spoke to the boys, and they returned to their seats. A moment later, we arrived at Lucerne. Amazingly, the young Chinese women are staying at our hotel.