After enjoying more than a week of our routine, it was time to surprise Alicia on her birthday.
I researched top train trips in Europe and discovered one of the best options is about 75 miles north of Turin along the ridge of the Alps in Switzerland. The Glacier Express (book early from the USA on www.RailEurope.com; they mail you the tickets) runs from Zermatt to St. Moritz. The three-hour, $250 for two, round-trip between Brig and Disentis offers the best scenery along the trip, with over 150 bridges connecting the tips of the Alps. So, we were off to the near top of the world with an overnight in Disentis.
Although the weather was overcast, we had amazing views of the countryside. We weren’t able to see the great bridge spans we crossed, as the viewing angle didn’t show what’s in front of the train, but the side views were well worth the trip.
Disentis is a small, charming, and walk-able Swiss town. Hotel Alpsu is a 15-minute walk from the train station along narrow, winding streets. When we turned the corner and saw the hotel, the window flower boxes definitely signaled we were in Switzerland. Our room was also totally Swiss, with wood paneling everywhere, down comforters about six inches thick at the end of the bed, and windows that opened out to let in the cool, crisp air.
After strolling the streets for a few hours, we returned to the hotel for a special dinner. Earlier, the owners encouraged us to join them for dinner and share the nightly salad served only during mushroom season (made with mushrooms, spinach, and a special raspberry dressing). They also said we’d enjoy the sausage with cheese main course. How could we refuse?
The ambiance was perfect for Alicia’s birthday. The salad was outstanding as promised. Even the wine was a nice, dry chardonnay – Alicia’s favorite. The main course was good but indeed had a different taste. The waitress said, “it was house meat.” House meat? “Oh,” she said, “excuse my English, its horsemeat.” And Alicia was done. Lucky for me, the Swiss chocolate cake saved the evening.
Heading back in Turin, we knew we wanted to return to Switzerland for a day-trip later during our adventure.