Bernina Express

Loading bikes onto the bicycle car.
Loading bikes onto the bicycle car.

Getting your bicycle onto a train in Switzerland is easy. There is at least one rail car that is reserved for the storage and transport of bicycles. We tossed the gear up into the car and handed up our bikes which were hung from the ceiling, then found a comfortable seat on the Bernina Express.

Great views from large windows on the Bernina Express.
Great views from large windows on the Bernina Express.

The railway was built in 1908 to serve sightseers. Large windows afforded us an amazing view of the Swiss Alps until we would enter one of the dozens of tunnels. The marketing brochure shows a handsome train crossing an amazingly beautiful bridge connecting two cliffs. Of course, none of this is visible when you are actually on the train. At one point we waved to a group of tourists that were taking pictures of us as we passed a particularly photographic spot.

Tourists take photos of the Bernina as it exits one tunnel and enters another
Tourists take photos of the Bernina as it exits one tunnel and enters another.
a Swiss soldier taking the train home. Military duty in Switzerland is mandatory.
A Swiss soldier taking the train home. Military duty in Switzerland is mandatory for men.

Ginny had a meeting with the travel and tourism director in Chur, Michael Christ. We met him at the tourist office in the train station ( a really nice train station) and agreed to meet and discuss regional bicycle touring over beers.

Ginny discusses bicycles and tourism with Michael.
Ginny discusses bicycles and tourism with Michael.

We set up our tents in a campground near the Rhine and bicycled a short five minutes into town. After the rather dreary St. Moritz , Chur was a relief (I was beginning to lose faith in Switzerland with the 5 euro sodas and plain looking apartment buildings from the day before).

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Strolling through the old city center of Chur (pronounced “core”)

Chur, the oldest city in Switzerland, has been continuously inhabited for 5,000 years and has evidence of ancient dwellers up to 13,000 years ago. Michael told us that the water from any of Chur’s 100+ fountains is all potable and can be consumed without worry. (We have found many roadside springs in Italy as well that have trinkwasser).

Filling up water bottles at a fountain.
Filling up water bottles at a fountain.
Even the pigeons like the water.
Even the pigeons like the water.

We were all impressed by the network of mountain bike paths around Chur. Nearly all of Switzerland’s hiking trails are open to mountain bikes and they add a healthy chunk to the region’s tourist draw.

The Rhine River will be our companion for several days.
The Rhine River will be our companion for several days.

That night we sat by the Rhine, ate a meal left over from our lunch snacks, and drank a bottle of wine. After nearly having a nervous breakdown because my iPad was freaking out, I gave up trying to blog and crawled into my tent just as the thunderstorm arrived. It was a doozy and my tent impressed me by keeping me dry. I did not have room for my bicycle in the tent so I made it stay outside.

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4 thoughts on “Bernina Express”

    1. The Bodensee is the German name for Lake Constance. It is a major source of drinking water for south-western Germany. Some say that Lake Constance is the only area in Europe with no borders because no formal dividing lines have ever been agreed to by Austria, Switzerland, and Germany.

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