After our first night of CouchSurfing (see previous post), we woke up and planned out our day. Dominik had to leave early in the morning for work, but he'd left us a key to lock up when we left. We decided that we would try to make it to Verona, Italy, using one of the days of our Eurail pass.
To travel from city to city in Europe, we bought a Eurail train pass that can be used on 15 different days over a span of two months. If you choose to use one of the days, you can travel as far as you want that day, as long as all the traveling is done before the day is over (otherwise it counts as two days).
We began our train journey by going back to Zurich HB and getting assistance from a woman at the ticket booth. The first train ride was from Zurich to Bern (also in Switzerland). Next, we continued to Milan, Italy, then on to Verona, Italy.
We arrived in Bern around 11:30 AM, after a one hour ride from Zurich. Bern seemed very different from Zurich, with each building in the city center styled in the same way. The center of the city is set on a hill inside a turn in a river, which makes for some great views.
We only had two hours in Bern before our next train left, so we walked around the city on a short walking tour that took us by the main cathedral, by a random bear enclosure, and up a steep hike across the river that gave us a great view of the city.
From there, we continued back to the train station to depart for Milan.
Train to Verona
The train to Milan was quite a bit longer -- about 3 hours. It took us along a lake and near some of Switzerland's many mountains, which were of course still covered with snow. The house on the hills and in the valleys looked like what we'd imagine traditional Swiss houses and cabins to look like, and we were able to notice the architectural style slowly change as we crossed into Italy.
We eventually arrived in Milan, but didn't have time to venture outside of the train station. We left from Milan in a less elegant and slower train, which took us along some of northern Italy's countryside.
Unfortunately, we arrived in Verona fairly late and didn't have a reserved place to stay. We ended up walking around the city for a while, partly familiarizing ourselves with the sites and partly looking for an internet cafe from which to search for nearby hostels or bed-and-breakfasts. We knew that some hotels had rooms available, but hoped we could find something a bit cheaper. There was a Vinitaly 2012 wine festival taking place in the city, so many places were full. In the end, as it was getting later in the evening, we ended up just checking into a hotel, which was a bit costly, but quite nice.
After dropping off our backpacks in the hotel room, we headed down to the city center for some dinner. Toward the center of the city is an old Colosseum-like arena, surrounded by a park and a number of shops, restaurants, and bars. We grabbed a couple slices of pizza, happy to learn that the prices were far cheaper than in Zurich (6 euros' worth of pizza filled us up). As we walked around the other shops and bars, we grabbed some coffee and local wines (as well as a local bright-orange, grapefruit-flavored drink) in a small bar.
Back in our hotel room, we got a chance to get online and look for hostels and CouchSurfing hosts, as well as to reconnect with people back home and post two blog posts.
We will be staying in Verona a couple more nights, CouchSurfing with another local couple who is about our age.