2 Days, 2 Countries, 1 epic solo trip!

Tripoto
25th Jan 2019
Photo of 2 Days, 2 Countries, 1 epic solo trip! 1/2 by Meghali Ghosh

January 2019 - I was in Madrid, Spain for work and I had the Schengen visa which gave me access to 25 other European countries. Wasting a full weekend sitting in my hotel room looking at the walls would have been a crime. A friend had once told me about the breathtaking train rides in Switzerland and I always dreamt about taking that ride one day. So I started searching on the net about the most beautiful train ride in the world, The Bernina Express. Moreover Roman history has always been my favorite part of history and visiting Rome would have been a dream come true as well. As we all know Switzerland and Italy are right next to each other, so why not do both together. I know you must be thinking I was crazy to even think about doing both in just one weekend in the freezing temperature when I don't know their language and have nobody to help me out but that's the magic of the unknown. My research started and I felt like I was about to give an exam.

Finally the day of journey arrives and I was super excited and a little bit afraid to start this backpacking trip across 2 countries in 2 days absolutely solo.

Day 1

Friday night at 9pm, I took a Ryanair flight from Madrid (Barajas Airport) and reached Milan (Bergamo Airport), Italy at 11.20pm. I waited at the airport till 4.25 am and boarded a bus from the airport to the Milan Central station. Buses start from right outside the airport departure gate and it costs 5 € (₹ 390). The sun was yet to rise, the temperature was 2 degrees Celsius and there was only one other girl in the bus with me.

Reached the station at 5am and waited till 6.20 am when I had my train to Tirano. I had already booked the tickets on trainline.com and it costs 11.50 € (₹ 900). Tirano is the last station in Italy from where the Bernina Express starts its journey towards Switzerland. I reached Tirano at 9am and I could see the majestic Bernina Express waiting at the station. Be it winter or summer, Bernina is always full so please book your tickets from before ( https://www.rhb.ch/en/panoramic-trains/bernina-express ) and make sure you book the window seat because the view you get from the panoramic windows will take your breath away.

Photo of 2 Days, 2 Countries, 1 epic solo trip! 2/2 by Meghali Ghosh

Bernina starts from Tirano in Italy and goes upto Chur in Switzerland in 4 hours. But I had to return the same day so I booked the ride till St. Moritz in Switzerland (2.5 hours).

At 9.40am my train started and for the next 2.5 hours I was absolutely transfixed by the view outside my window. Completely covered in snow, the mighty Swiss Alps, the breathtaking scenery made me realize that coming on this trip was the one of the best decisions I had taken in my life.

Photo of Switzerland by Meghali Ghosh

I reached St. Moritz at 12 noon and started exploring on foot. St. Moritz is a small Alpine resort town in Switzerland at a height of 1800m ( 5910 ft). The town grew up around the Lake St. Moritz which was completely frozen when I visited. The temperature was -18 degree Celsius and town was completely covered in snow. I had never seen so much snow in my life and my inner child just wanted to sit on the road and keep making snowmen. There was a Gourmet festival going on with tents set up everywhere and people were gearing up for a snow polo match. I was surprised to find a tent with Indian food and decided to have my lunch there. After roaming around for 2 hours and clicking innumerable pictures, I reached the station from where I had my return train to Tirano at 2.50pm.

Photo of St Moritz, Switzerland by Meghali Ghosh
Photo of St Moritz, Switzerland by Meghali Ghosh
Photo of St Moritz, Switzerland by Meghali Ghosh
Photo of St Moritz, Switzerland by Meghali Ghosh
Photo of St Moritz, Switzerland by Meghali Ghosh

I reached Tirano at 5pm, at 6pm I had my train back to Milan Central. I reached Milan at 9pm. I took a metro from the station ( 1.5 € i.e ₹117) and reached Milan Lampugnano bus stand from where I had my bus to Rome at 10.30pm.

I had already booked the semi sleeper bus ticket on flixbus.com and it cost me 19 € ( ₹ 1490).

Day 2

I reached Rome Tiburtina Bus Station at 8am, freshened up, had my breakfast and got an all transport pass of 7 € ( ₹ 548) for the day. The temperature was 8 degree Celsius. There's no place for bag storage at the Tiburtina so I took a metro to the Termini station to keep my backpack for 3-4 hours ( cost me 4 € i.e ₹ 315) as you are not allowed to take bags inside the Colosseum. Only small handbags are allowed.

I had booked a half day walking tour of the Colosseum and the surrounding places from viator.com for 35 € ( ₹ 2750) as I wanted to know the actual history of the Colosseum and did not want to waste time standing in queue for the tickets. At a time only 3000 people are allowed inside the Colosseum. Our tour started at 10am from the Colosseo Metro stop and the group had around 15 people from different countries. Our guide had already booked the Colosseum tickets for us. She was quite knowledgeable about the history and culture of ancient Rome and spoke English quite well. Visiting the Colosseum really felt like a dream come true for me and I could tick off one of the most important places off my bucket list. After the Colosseum tour she took us to the Roman Forum, just opposite the Colosseum and told us the stories of the Vestal Virgins and the Via Sacre. The tour ended at 1pm and then I started exploring on foot.

Photo of Colosseum, Piazza del Colosseo, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Meghali Ghosh
Photo of Colosseum, Piazza del Colosseo, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Meghali Ghosh
Photo of Colosseum, Piazza del Colosseo, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Meghali Ghosh
Photo of Colosseum, Piazza del Colosseo, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Meghali Ghosh
Photo of Colosseum, Piazza del Colosseo, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Meghali Ghosh
Photo of Palatine Hill, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Meghali Ghosh
Photo of Palatine Hill, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Meghali Ghosh
Photo of Palatine Hill, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Meghali Ghosh

I found Rome to be an extremely charming city with a touch of history in every nook and cranny. Following Google maps, I visited the Palatine Hill, Trevi fountain, Pantheon, Altar of the Fatherland. Then I had an authentic Italian pizza in front of the Pantheon and a delicious waffle.

Photo of Trevi Fountain, Piazza di Trevi, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Meghali Ghosh
Photo of Pantheon, Piazza della Rotonda, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Meghali Ghosh
Photo of Pantheon, Piazza della Rotonda, Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy by Meghali Ghosh

Then I took the bus to Termini station, collected my bag and took a train to the airport ( 14 € i.e ₹ 1095). I had my Vueling Airlines flight at 7.40pm and reached Madrid at 10pm.

I was dead tired as I had hardly slept in 48 hours but I had never felt more proud of myself as I did after completing this trip successfully. Everything went according to plan and it made me realize if you believe in yourself no physical or mental barrier can stop you from achieving what you want. This has been by far the most daring trip of my life and the most fulfilling.

Language

Most people speak and understand basic English in both Switzerland and Rome so I did not face much of a problem.

Safety Concern

Not even for once did I feel unsafe during this entire trip. Rather I found people to be concerned and surprised that a non European is traveling solo. People were always ready to help whenever required.

Trip Cost

Flight from Madrid to Milan - 35 €

Bus from Milan airport to station - 5 €

Train from Milan station to Tirano - 11.5 €

Bernina Express (to and fro) - 74 CHF or 65 €

Train from Tirano to Milan station - 11.5 €

Metro ride from Milan station to Lampugnano bus station - 1.5 €

Bus from Milan to Rome - 19 €

Rome Day transport Pass - 7 €

Ancient Rome and Colosseum Walking Tour - 35 €

Train from Rome Termini station to the Airport - 14 €

Flight from Rome to Madrid - 90 €

Miscellaneous (Food + Water + Bag storage) - 40 €

Total - 335 € (₹ 26000 approx.)

(All the pictures you see are mine and not stolen from any other source)

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