11 March 2012

Day 3 : Lugano

We bought a 15-day Swiss pass in the beginning of our holiday to use for traveling.  We used this pass for all our transport on trains and busses during our trip.  It also included the use of transport in some cities and discount/free museums and other excursions.  We made good use of the pass while traveling from St Moritz to Lugano in the Italian part of Switzerland.  Our journey started at about 12:00 with 1.5 hours on the Glacier Express train from St Moritz to Thusis.  This was the same route as yesterday when we came from Chur only in the other direction. 
In Thusis we had to transfer to a bus and walked about 1 minute from the train station to the bus stop.  The bus ride to Bellinzona was about 1.5 hours.  We went through many tunnels (short ones and long ones) and drove over bridges.  Sometimes there was a lot of traffic and then we proceeded slowly.  The bus wasn’t full and we enjoyed the ride while looking at villages, valleys, mountains and waterfalls. In Bellinzona we had to change back to a train.  It took us about 4 minutes to get to the right platform. The train ride from Bellinzona to Lugano took about 30 minutes.
Hotel Besso
Lugano was very warm and humid but with clouds in the sky.  We had to wait a while at the information desk before the lady could help us.  She gave us a map and directions to our hotel.  Without knowing all the hotels I booked was close to the train stations.  We did struggle a bit to find Hotel Besso but a friendly man working in the garden on the way showed us. 

We checked in and went to our room at about 16:45.  There was a lift/elevator this time so easy to get luggage to the room.  We booked a non smoking room but it smelled like smoke.  We opened the windows as wide as possible and fell on the bed.
Rain and hail in Lugano, Switzerland
View of the rain and hail from our room
About 5 minutes after we got to our room the thunder started outside and it got darker. Soon the rain was pouring down and after the rain hail started falling.  It was a good, hard thunderstorm. We got inside just in time. 

We turned on the very small TV and watched part of a stage of the Tour de France.  Although we could not understand the commentary it was relaxing.  We are very interested in cycling because my brother, Erik, is a professional cyclist in South Africa.  He started doing road racing but changed to mountain biking.  (Read more on his website)

After the storm calmed (about 19:00) we wanted to see a bit of Lugano and we needed to find food.  We once again put on our raincoats and walked back to the station.  In the station there was a funicular (According to wikipedia : “a cable railway in which a cable attached to a pair of tram-like vehicles on rails moves them up and down a steep slope” ) As I said in a previous post we don’t have a lot of public transport in South Africa and this was our first experience with a funicular.  We bought the CHF1.1-ticket and got in.  We traveled down the steep hill towards the lake.  Halfway down we past a funicular traveling in the opposite direction.  To quick we were at the bottom and had to get of. 

Most places were closed already and we just walked around for a while before another CHF1.1-ride up with the funicular. 
We bought pizza and juice at a shop near the station and then back to the hotel.  After eating is was time to rest.  At about 3:00 in the morning I woke from another thunderstorm with thunder and rain.  I closed the windows and hoped that the next day would be better weather.

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