JWR Articles: Travel - The Pre-alpine Express (Source: S. James Wegg) - September 3, 2010

The Pre-alpine Express

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A Long Day's Journey into Art

Leaving hourly on the 40s, this nearly three-hour journey is ideal for those who want to get a feel for the Swiss countryside, its towns (Wollerau is especially picturesque), farming techniques (from terrace vineyards to traditional cows, but also deer and llamas) and terrain (looking down into many long verdant valleys from above never gets tiresome: around every corner there’s something new to discover). A couple of long tunnels add suspense: When will we emerge? What will be seen next? Parts of the way are on a single track so timing is everything. With typical Swiss transportation efficiency, our journey only had one, very brief wait (no one would argue!) for our turn to head through the pass.

At the far end of the trek is Romanshorn where ferries and boats are ready to bring tourists and locals alike to the cities and towns that surround Lake Constance—Europe’s largest inland lake. But before sailing off in any direction, a visit to St. Johannes Church der Täufer, whose roots date back to 1201, is a must. Dominating the city landscape with its mighty tower, the interior is a treasure trove of religion-based art (notably a detailed depiction of The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian) and an impressive-looking organ in the rear loft—art is everywhere.

On the return, it was often humbling to be reminded of how small humankind is compared to the magnificent mountains sheltering the arable plains and bodies of water at their base. Little wonder artists of all stripes have frequently taken their ideas and insights from nature, working its immense beauty (how marvellously coincidental that the town of Immensee appears just as this thought does) and occasional terror into their canvases, words and sounds. Suddenly, the Kultur und Kongresszentrum Luzern can be seen in the far distance on the opposite side of the lake. From this vantage point, it seems small and insignificant, yet we know that within its walls much of the world’s finest music bursts into glorious life, necessarily hemmed in by acoustical requirements and savoured by relatively few compared with its inspirational source, which can be appreciated by anyone who chooses to partake.

After disembarking (three minutes early!) at the station, filled with a day’s worth of beautiful images and sounds (the creaky coach connectors and the rasping whistle added extra bits of colour along the route) the next concert seems more inviting than ever. JWR

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Source - S. James Wegg
Historical figure - Saint Sebastian
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