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Leaving on a shockingly early train from London to Paris, I blasted MIA into my ears.

It was still dark when I looked up to the glass ceiling above St. Pancras station as I boarded the train.

We went shooting through the morning mist, the windows going black as the train travelled under the Channel and out into the French countryside before hitting the city. The Zurich train, which stops at Basel, leaves from the Gare du Lyon. Having  forgotten to bring Metro tickets from the last Paris excursion, we made our way to the ticket counter to ask, ‘je voudrais un ticket de metro.’ But I couldn’t  remember whether it was ‘un’ or ‘pour’ or ‘le’ and garbled my request in embarrassed English instead.

Tickets in hand, we took the Green line D two stops. In the conservatory-like Hall 2 at Gare du Lyon, as we stood waiting, a man with a red backpack and dreads sat down at the piano for passengers, placed on a red carpet, and started to play. And don’t we all love a classically trained dreadlock-bedecked backpacker?

The TGV Lyria train to Basel was red and shiny and fast. It stopped in Dijon, home of mustard, where I spotted the lovely cathedral in the distance. Where it had been sunny with mist rising ethereally from the fields nearer Paris, the skies were now colourless.

At Basel, we changed to the double-decker train to Interlaken Ost. Immediately, the landscape was wonderful.

When we arrived in Interlaken we picked up tickets to Grindelwald. We boarded a train in the evening darkness, and sat down next to a side table with a map of the Jungfrau region on it. It was late when we arrived, so we ordered a ‘small plate’ of spag bol with a glass of Swiss red wine - Dole. Swiss wine is surprisingly delicious. Bold and with a kick – I even swore I could taste notes of cheese.

In the morning, we met our ski instructor Béat. He looked the way people who work outdoors often look – lanky and weathered with red cheeks, Swiss blue eyes, and a mess of brown hair.

This was the first time in my life skiing - I’d borrowed (ancient) salopettes, gloves, inner gloves, ski goggles that were falling apart, and mix of bizarre hats from an eccentric friend. At the rental shop I got a helmet, ski boots and beginners ski poles and skis.

We went up to Kleine-Schedigg area, where I spent some time learning how to get my ski boots into and out of the skis. In no way encouraging, the area was full of children and all sorts of bizarre cartoons for said children. But who was I kidding? I’d be no better at skiing than a three-year-old - worse, probably. Especially Swiss kids, who all ski prodigies by the age of five. 


London to Switzerland in a day: Making tracks to get to Jungfrau
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