Dubbed as the “Palm Express”, the excursion from Lugano to St Moritz is probably the most scenic bus journey I have taken in Switzerland. From Lugano, the bus plied along the beautiful Lago di Lugano in both Switzerland and Italy.
At the town of Menaggio (Italy), I was greeted with the sights of Lago di Como (Lake Como), another beautiful lake in the Italian northwest frontier. Along Lake Como, the scenery was pretty much the same – clear blue lake, sparsely forested hills and rustic lakeside towns. The bus made a quick stop at the town of Chiavenna which is located at the northern edge of Lake Como. It is quite a beautiful and peaceful town.
Chiavenna is probably the last Italian name you would hear on this route. Soon I re-entered the Swiss border with names that have more German and Romansh influence than anything else. The first few major towns and villages inside the Swiss border of Graubünden Canton are Soglio, Promontogno and Stampa. This area also marks the beginning of Graubünden’s Upper Engadin valley, which has a high concentration of towering peaks that exceed 3,000 metres in height.
This is a slight detour on linguistic which I find very interesting in this canton. Graubünden literally means “gray federation” in German, which I am still searching for the true meaning behind it. Perhaps it is because this region has been shielded from mainstream German/ Italian/ French influence for many centuries that the rest of Europe were ambivalent on the status of the dwellers in Graubünden, hence a “gray” area. Meanwhile, Engadin most likely means "the place or the people in the Inns Valley". There is an Inns river in the area – and neighbouring Austria has a resort town by the name of Innsbrück, or "River Inns’ Bridge", which is also in the vicinity.
Going back to the journey, the towering mountains of Upper Engadin are nothing short of awe-inspiring, especially as I got closer to St Moritz. There are a number of small alpine lakes along the highway that provide breathtaking view of the mountains. I found myself shifting left and right inside the bus to capture the best shots of the scenery. It was truly one of the most memorable journeys during my holiday in Switzerland.