Our man [formally] of Amsterdam


On the rails
December 30, 2009, 19:55
Filed under: Switzerland

I got on a Swiss train in Milan and didn’t want to get off in Lausanne. They are the best trains on the Continent;  always on time and spotlessly clean. In first class there are ceiling mounted screens displaying DVDs as well as GPS tracking shots of where you are in the journey (filmed somehow like Google street view, but from an elevated position above the front engine). However, the filming took place in summer, and outside my window was a blanket of snow.

I think I want to buy an unlimited 1-month first class pass and live on board permanently. I’ll need to join the gold member loyalty program to take advantage of the exclusive lounges and showers in the main stations whenever I decide to change trains.

In the dining saloon, the gourmet menu (in 4 languages) is matched by the impeccable service (in four languages also). I shared a table and 2 bottles of Chianti with an elderly German couple and a Swiss woman returning home to Geneva after Christmas in the Italian Alps. Silvio the steward insisted we all have Swiss nougat with coffee. “Oui, ya and yes,” we all said.

Each upcoming stop was not only documented beautifully on screen but the sexy voice on the intercom (in four languages) alerted you to the fact too; she even added a happy New Year flourish to finish. Nice!

The seats are plush and roomy and each has a reading light that works. The digital indicator has the number and your name displayed. Seriously! There is ample space for luggage, unlike the deplorably deficient storage area of the cross-channel Eurostar. There is a person employed to regularly monitor and upkeep the toilets. Some carriages have lounges and banquettes with little coffee tables for you to kick back in with the supplied library of magazines and newspapers, and where the steward will take your drink order and bring delicious bar snacks and about the only thing you have to do is decide between a Negroni or a Campari.

I got on a Swiss train in Milan and didn’t want to get off in Lausanne.

The view from seat 66A, crossing the Alps.

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