Switzerland and Liechtenstein by Train, August 2015

I’ve spent the last week in a jaunt criss-crossing Switzerland and the postage stamp – sized principality of Liechtenstein using the Swiss Rail network. It is a mighty efficient and punctual way to travel! Some of the journeys are truly panoramic – the train ride being a destination of itself. It’s given me the opportunity to contrast the intimacy of hiking through Swiss villages on foot with effortlessly watching the scenes in fast forward.

The vistas are of tiny hamlets sitting nestled at the bottom of impossibly sheer cliffs. Little dark wood chalets with long, shallow pitched roofs sport red window shutters and wide balconies that overflow with red and pink geraniums from planter boxes. The village scene is huddled  around a little stone church with a towering steeple and spire that pierces the valley sky and fronted by a large round clock always telling perfect Swiss time. Black glossy cows laden with oversized bells laze in surrounding green pastures. The cog railways allow the little carriages to labour up and down steep alpine passes across the country and the scene is repeated anew in the next valley.

I’ve never been one for big cities – most of them seem to me to have outgrown their charm. However the medieval districts of some of Switzerland’s cities were well worth the exploration. I visited the old town of Lucerne where stone buildings are pressed together lining higgeldy narrow lanes – all topped with tiled, gabled roofs, little balconies and colourful window shutters. Iron and gilt signposts swing above inns and shops announcing the enterprises. Laneways open into village squares where lampposts light the space, painted frescoes line the walls and a fountain spurts drinking water from the mouth of a fantastic beast or the hand of a lord or lady.

All of this walking, tiring as it is, has of course been for a good purpose – to eat my fill of Swiss cheese, chocolate and wine each day!

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