Rounding another curve on the Bernina Express, sometimes we glimpse something – an ancient stone hut, a cliff naturally carved with a quizzical face, a shimmering snow-covered village – then wonder later if it was really there.
Sitting comfortably in our train car with panoramic windows is a little like being on a slow-motion toboggan, but warm and cozy, plus we can get a hot cup of coffee from the nice man passing in the aisle with his cart.
This is the Rhaetian Railway, part of which, has UNESCO World Heritage status – only the third rail line in the world to be so honoured, thanks in part to its “outstanding technical, architectural and environmental ensemble”, says UNESCO.
We’re in the Alps of the Swiss canton of Graubünden. In 500 BCE, this area was populated by tribes called the Rhaeti. By 15 BCE, the Roman province of Raetia had been established. Today, among Switzerland’s 26 cantons, mountainous Graubünden is singular in at least three ways: it’s the farthest east, the largest geographically, and the only one where three Swiss languages – German, Italian and Romansh – are commonly spoken.