Funiculare

A funiculare is a train that is pulled up a steep slope by a cable. The term derives from the Latin word funiculus, meaning rope, which is what was first used to drag the rail carriages up the steep hillside slopes. These days there are 41 such trains in Switzerland, these days they are drawn by thick steel cables.

In the two months since we landed here, we hadn’t alighted one of these, nor any of the 129 gondolas and 251 cable cars or whatever number cog trains that can be found in this country. Today was the day.

We had guests visit from The Netherlands (which is almost dead flat) this weekend and it seemed apt to treat them, and ourselves, to the ride up Mont Brè. We arrived at the station, which is in Lugano, around midday and were fortunate to find a parking spot, one of a handful available, right there next to the ticket booth and departure point.

Thanks to the travel card that one can purchase in Switzerland for 180 Francs, the cost of a return ticket was only half of the regular 25 Francs and, with these in hand, we climbed on board for the ride up. The ride up took around 10 minutes with an elevation gain of 520 meters and a maximum gradient of 48%. Steep, right?

One thing that continues to make me think is how the Swiss have adapted to the terrain that exists. These slopes are steep but that hasn’t stopped people from building on them where they can. I cannot fathom how much work, manual work, has gone into creating what I see around me today.

Three tunnels (the longest of which is 220 metres) and a lot of clunkety clunk later we arrived at the top to be greeted, in typical alpine fashion, by a restaurant, where we later took some coffee, wine, ice cream, soda and fries.

One of the big pastimes in this area is mountain biking, and the transportation system allows people to take their bikes with up them (for a fee) and then cycle the trails to where they might lead. Mountain bikes are also available for rental, something that I might partake of another time. Another pastime is dogs. Dogs are everywhere, and like bikes, they too are catered for and can be taken on public transport for a fee.

It also seems that at the top of every hill there is a church or a chapel. Here it was Maria Assunta Church, where candles where lit in the name of friends and relatives to wish them well.

As we turned back to walk the couple hundred steps to our afternoon drinks, the Valais Alps and the profile of the Monte Rosa massif, the second highest mountain in Europe came into full glorious view. Time to stop, take a few breaths, look, and ask myself the question: Will I ever find my way there? I mean, there are so many places to explore, so much to do.

The air was cool, the breeze was soft, and, as reputed, Mont Brè was the sunniest mountain in Switzerland. It was a good day to be out, another experience had, and time to head back down.

Next weekend? Maybe up into the high country.

Espresso – Mont Brè, 2021

Published by Athan Rodostianos

Educator, world traveller, dreamer. The world is there and open. Live it, love it, breathe it share your experiences, be kind, be good.

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