Rail ramble to see Lionesses


Just the ticket for a rail ramble round Switzerland and France to see the England Lionesses’ group games in the Women’s World Cup- and random stream of unconsciousness dredged up on the trains from Nice to Le Havre for the match against Argentina.

The trains took the strain from Wolverhampton To London and then to Paris via Eurostar before Paris to Geneva for a few beers with Kiwi nephew David (ok bar next to strip/lap dancing club!) and hotel sleepover.

Non-playing guest – unfortunately!

The Swiss do scenic rail trips quite well so getting to Lugano via Olten was an eye-opener as usual – and just for train spotters!

The ultimate Swiss doggie bag

The lady with the dog in the bag went unnoticed until she got off because of distractions out of the window.

Lakes and hills as standard viewing

Lugano was bathed in beautiful sunshine as we were met by Anna Lis’ sister Magda Lanfranconi and bro-in-law (as yung folk say) Jean.

Young people take the fate of their lizards seriously in the village of Arogno, Ticino, and try to get drivers to do the same with their personally crafted road signs.

Walking the road up towards the top of Mont Genorosso (Arogno is about two thirds the way up but a 3 hour plus march to the top was fortunately ruled out!) you come across quite a few lizards leaping about.

Perhaps the young protectors should also look at putting out warnings to protect the snakes as this one seemed to have come a cropper.

Deceased snake near Arogno

Thankfully the Italian part of Switzerland is just as wonderful as the rest in terms of scenery and food and drink and free clothes washing facilities.

For some reason Anna insisted on using her sister’s washing machine instead of one of the two – yes two – public facilities in the village.

Free clothes washing in Arogno

Outside the village uphill walking is accompanied by stereotypical Swiss DJ on the cowbell. A bit one dimensional musically.

As idyllic as this area looks life has not always been easy. During depressed times people emigrated to places such as the United States for a better life – as did Jean’s grandparents and the grandfather of this bar in the beautiful village of Sognogno.

The bar owner emigrated to Soledad, California, to make a better life before things got better for running a bar/cafe in Switzerland.

Jean and Magda Lanfranconi in Sognogno

The food and drinks on offer in a wonderful setting were superb- and locally sourced where possible. Cheeses, cured meats and beer went down well.

The accompanying magnificent scenery was also being appreciated by a group from the school in Arogno – once home to two watch parts factories.

One factory was a split off from a strike in the 1930s which was started by the aggrieved workers. It lasted longer than the original but both closed in the end and a scheme to turn the original factory into homes seems to have foundered.

Most work is now down the mountain in the valleys or on the lakesides in Lugano, Locarno, Mendrissio and other places.

Old bridges pull us tourists in to gaze

Even the railway station offered a somewhat special view as we set off for Nice via Milan.

View from Lugano Railway Station

The Thello – newish Railway company – train from Milan offered a somewhat disconcerting staring logo experience but the beer was fine.

Thello ‘staring’ logo seats

Beer helps to map progress

Nice – a 19th century addition to France after being held by the Dukes of Savoy – is a nice Mediterranean mashup of French and Italian styles/cultures/music/art/food/drink.

Giuseppe Garibaldi was born in Nice and there is a statue of him facing towards Italy where he played a big part in unification.

Nice did not become part of France while he lived there. He earned a live by at sea but also supported revolutionary uprisings in South America and made himself unpopular with the French by fighting against Austrian control of Italy.

Garibaldi’s statue looks towards Italy from Nice

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