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Europe: Southern Switzerland and Milan, Italy

British Airway

«Zermatt and The Matterhorn, Switzerland Luxembourg»

23 – 25 June 2000

Train Travel in Southern Switzerland and a Day Trip on Lake Lugano

We boarded the 9:10am train from Zermatt on Friday (23 June). After changing trains in Brig, we continued on to Domodossola, Italy. From there we rode a narrow gauge railroad back into Locarno, Switzerland. The scenery through the mountains was very nice. After two more trains we reached Lugano, located in the Italian portion of Switzerland. We stayed at a hostel that had extensive grounds, including a pool that the girls enjoyed. It began to rain after we arrived there so we went back to the room to change for dinner. Even though it continued to rain, we went into the center of town and feasted on pizza, pasta, salad and fresh fruit at a cafeteria.

On Saturday morning we decided to take a short ferry ride on Lake Lugano to the town of Gandria, which is located very close to the Italian border. After about a 30 minute ride, we arrived at the town, which is built on a hill rising above the lake. We took a nice stroll around the town and found a great restaurant with a terrace overlooking the lake to have lunch. After exploring a little more after lunch we took the ferry back to Lugano. After retrieving our luggage we boarded the 3:06pm train to Milan, Italy, arriving about 90 minutes later.

Art, Cathedrals and Soccer in Milan

Our first impression of Milan was the massive central train station. We found the Metro station, bought 24 hour passes and rode it to our hotel. It was about a 10 minute walk from the Metro stop and the girls were happy to stay in the first hotel on the entire journey, complete with bathroom and TV in the room! After checking into the hotel, we rode the Metro back to the Duomo stop, which is in the center of the city. The square in front of the cathedral was a constant sea of activity so we spent some time on the sitting on the steps and watching the people coming and going. There was a big screen showing a European Championship soccer qualifying match between Italy and Romania, which attracted a quite vocal crowd. Italy won and advanced to the next round. There were also neat mimes who would perform if you dropped a coin their way.

Sunday (25 June), we returned to the Duomo Square and walked through an adjacent building, built in the 1800’s, that was converted to an inside mall, with neat shops. We walked through it and then, at the other end of the building, turned and continued another block to La Scala, the famous opera house. We took a tour of the museum and got to walk into one of the boxes overlooking the rest of the theater. After completing the tour we took the Metro the a church that has the Last Supper painting on one of its walls. We had 1:30pm reservations to see the painting. Twenty-five people are let in every 15 minutes to see it and we rented audio sets to listen to commentary as we viewed it.

Later we headed back to the Duomo Square to see the cathedral itself. It is the third largest church in Europe. We viewed the inside and then took an elevator to the top of the church and walked along the roof. The views of the city were good. We visited the museum across the street and then walked a few blocks to a pedestrian street for an early dinner. After enjoying pizza, pasta and ice cream we returned to the Duomo Square one final time before collecting our luggage and making our way to the train station.

Our all-night train to Luxembourg City left at 9:35pm and we shared the six person (three beeds on each side) compartment with a French woman who spoke no English. The girls slept on the bottom bunks while Darren and Sandy took the very top ones. Our trip took us through Switzerland and France before reaching our final destination.

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Lost luggage, trip cancellation, medical emergency