7:20 a.m., track 7, Zurich main station – that‘s the appointment. Gabriel and his godmother get on the train at 7:32 a.m. in the direction of Lugano, traveling through the Gotthard Base Tunnel. It is the first time for both.
After the stop in Arth-Goldau, the train travels along the beautiful Lake of Uri. On the other side lies the Rütli meadow, where with the Rütli oath the foundation for Switzerland was laid more than 700 years ago. Watch out at the end of the lake near Flüelen: Now it does not go much longer until the tunnel entrance in Erstfeld. Both have their mobile phones ready. They want to measure the time the train takes to travel the 57 kilometres through the tunnel. Attention! ready, steady, go, start button pushed. It’s getting dark, and you can feel the train going faster. It takes 21 minutes and 21 seconds until daylight reappears in Biasca. Now they are already in Ticino. Italian is spoken here, one of our four national languages.
They reflect upon a few words:
buon giorno – good day
il treno – the train
buona sera – good evening
la stazione – the train station
grazie – thank you
la galleria – the tunnel
prego – please
Counting to ten? Gabriel tries it: uno, due, tre, quattro, cinque, sei, sette, otto, nove, dieci – bravo! Maybe they can use their Italian language skills?
On the way back they measure the time again. Now the train needs 17 minutes and 51 seconds. Why is it faster now? They ask the conductor. He explains that often several trains run in the tunnel at the same time and therefore safety distances must be abided. That is why sometimes the train is not allowed to travel at maximum speed which is 250 km/h. This is twice as fast as driving on the motorway! He also explains that there are two tubes, because at these speeds it would be far too dangerous for two trains to pass close. Aha! that‘s why there was no oncoming train on the entire tunnel route.
At the end of their beautiful journey they play “Stadt-Land-Fluss “ (city, country and river). Gabriel asks in the entire coach: Do you know a country starting with an F or a city with a P? Everyone is happy to help. Gabriel always returns to his place with good solutions. Suddenly a man from the next compartment turns his laptop into their direction and, visible to Gabriel only, PARIS appears in large letters on the screen. Just this was all he needed. Now he can shout “stop“ and wins the round.
This is how the trip to Zurich passes by in a flash. Both agree: That was a beautiful day!
Do you know the geography game “Stadt-Land-Fluss“?
The game: One person recites in his head the entire alphabet. At some point the other one calls: “Stop!” Which then is the first letter for the word you are searching for. The first person who has filled in all fields of the line again calls stop! Now points are given: two points for single entries, one point for double words, zero points for an empty field. •
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