Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Up and over Bernina Pass

The Bernina Pass allows rail and road access from the eastern regions of Switzerland to Tirano in N. E. Italy. The Bernina Express which travels up and over is one of Switzerland's scenic trains. It overcomes some very steep gradients (for a train) to climb over the 2330 metre pass and then loops the loop to make its way down into Italy. It is a marvel of railway technology. Many people avail themselves of the opportunity to use this particular technology to appreciate the natural beauty of this part of the Swiss Alps (seen here in early summer).

Some 2000 years ago Roman soldiers used to walk over this pass (hopefully not in winter!). Steep going? Yes, it would have been, but tramping over 2330 metres is better than scaling the mountains on either side which reach 4000 metres. I wonder if their attention was focused on the beauty of the Alps or were they dreaming of a technology which would make their journey a little more comfortable? (Most likely they were dreaming of sunny Italy which they would probably never see again!)

It's sad that today's technology (eg. transport) often overshadows the beauty of a natural landscape, as is the case here in the Mosel river valley in Germany. Speaking more generally however, isn't it a fact that we are so continually bombarded with one unbelievable scientific advancement after another that our minds are numbed by it all – digital sound and vision reproduction, medical breakthroughs, aircraft and space travel and communications. It is nothing short of amazing that I can sit in my lounge room and watch events taking place on the other side of the world, or indeed check out the soil on Mars. (Actually I have to sit in our TV room, for my wife does not allow a TV in the lounge room).

In all this our capacity to appreciate things natural has diminished. But in spite of the apparent omnipresence of human achievement, there is still a world of wonder waiting for those who want to discover it. Yes, up there in the Swiss Alps or check out a passion-fruit flower.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Of course without this intrusive technology you wouldn't be waxing lyrical on the natural beauty of a pass in Switzerland.

You certainly wouldn't be writing about it on the Internet.