The fast train to SwitzerlandJune 5 in Switzerland
After a fairly comfortable night’s sleep in my cell, and a good shower, I took advantage of the Clink continental breakfast - a snip at £2 (only £1 if I had booked the night before - drat!). Somewhat surprisingly, porridge was not on the menu.
A grey morning and a short walk led me to St Pancras International. What a magnificent Victorian Station - to think it was once earmarked for demolition. A smooth check-in and I was soon on board the 0922 Eurostar to Paris. With Standard Premier Class you get (another) continental breakfast, served by pleasant uniformed attendants reminiscent of air hostesses. After a stop at Ashford, Kent, the conductor announced we would shortly be entering the Channel Tunnel. How exciting! Although I have been fortunate enough to travel by Eurostar on a few occasions, it never ceases to amaze me when, after only 20 minutes in the tunnel, you suddenly emerge into the French countryside.
On arrival at the gargantuan Paris Gare du Nord station, I took the Metro two stops to the Gare du Lyon. Regrettably I didn’t have time for lunch at the magnificent Le Train Bleu restaurant, created for the Exposition Universelle in 1900. Ah well, maybe next time. I had to make do with a Croque Monsieur from the Buffet Car as I boarded the 1423 TGV-Lyria express to Switzerland. Leaving the grey, graffiti daubed suburbs of Paris behind, the train soon entered rural France, and the mist lifted and the sun shone throughout the afternoon. The flat, patchwork fields gave way to the lovely tree-lined gorges of Burgundy as we passed through Dijon (no stopping for mustard!), and on to Basle, Switzerland where I had to change trains for the last hour of the journey to Zürich. A very pleasant, smooth trip.
Three very pucker elderly English ladies across the compartment from me commented on how they enjoyed train travel. ‘But I wouldn’t do what Margot did’ said the eldest. ‘She went right across Russia herself on the Trans Siberian. But then she’s not afraid of anything. Did you notice she’s got her head completely shaved?’ (And after a pause). ‘Strange she never married’.
Casa Heinrich in Zürich was a pleasant guest house, 10 minutes walk from the station. There is no reception and you use a code to gain entry. Had a walk round the lovely old Altstadt this evening and had a tasty meal of whole roast pork knuckle (sorry, Betty) washed down with local beer. The place was like an old fashioned Germanic beer keller - the young blond waiter looked like he had just stepped out of a poster for Hitler youth, and all that was missing was Ann Blyth belting out operetta hits while balancing frothy beer steins on her bosom. Legend has it that Wilhelm Tell’s crossbow was kept here.
A lovely stroll to the lakeside finished off a very pleasant evening. Zürich really is a most attractive place to visit.Read more