Friday June 17
I enjoyed one last breakfast on the terrace overlooking the lake, paid my bill and took a taxi to the train station. I waited there with some other Americans I had met at the hotel and we talked about how much we love Italy and compared notes about all the places we have been.
At the Milan train station I did not have to wait long before my train for Geneva left. It is a four hour train ride to Geneva and I have a window seat in first class. There were no second class tickets available so I really had no choice. I was anticipating a beautiful long ride through the Alps to Geneva.
Unfortunately things changed, and not long after boarding the train, the conductor came around and informed me that this train was not going directly to Geneva, but instead I would be getting off in two stops and switching trains. Apparently the Simplon tunnel was still closed due to a fire that occurred last Thursday, and this required some shuttling of trains. I was told that after I got got off at Domodossola, I would take a train to Switzerland and that I needed to ask the Swiss authorities after that.
This was more than a little stressful for me because I had no idea of the names of towns in Switzerland, and I also did not speak French or German. I gathered enough information from a few other English-speaking passengers that everyone had to get off this train, then take a train to Brig, the first stop in Switzerland. After that we would have to find the train going to our original destinations.
On the second train I met a young Australian teacher named Emma, who has been living in Florence for the past two months. We both were destined for Geneva, so we provided moral support for each other in finding our way to the next train. She was on her way to her cousin’s wedding in France and was dragging her brother’s extra bag around on all these train changes. Of all times my phone didn’t work, so Emma was nice enough to let me use hers to notify Johanna, who was meeting me in Geneva.
I did enjoy the countryside, and even saw some castles and some snow on the high peaks of the Alps. But it rained for most of the trip so my expectation of a beautiful ride through the Alps was more than disappointing.
Eventually we arrived in Geneva, about an hour after the scheduled time. Johanna was not waiting on platform 3, and I had no phone, so I asked some stranger, who fortunately spoke English, if I could use hers to call Johanna. She answered and had been waiting on a different platform, so within a minute or two, we found each other and I was grateful to the kind person who loaned me her phone.
Johanna lives with my cousin and uncle and looks after them, as they both need some assistance. She was so kind and I liked her immediately. We drove the short distance to the village of Grand Lancy, where they live, and it felt good to be with family. My 89 year-old uncle was cooking dinner and had a glass of wine ready to go. Suddenly the day was looking better.