Getting around in Switzerland with 4-wheel walker

Getting around in Switzerland with 4-wheel walker

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bk629
bk629
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Jul 22, 2017 - 2:22 PM

Is is doable to travel by train from the Zurich Airport to Luzern, Murren, and the St. Moritz area (preferably a smaller town in the area) using a walker? I would send my luggage ahead each time. I can climb a few steps with a handrail, but a low or flat platform is best. Would I be able to take day trips by bus or train with the walker? How prevalent are cobblestone walkways? They are more difficult for walkers. I could do easy hikes, such as at Murren, if the trails are fairly smooth. How about Mt. Titlis? the Schilthorn? Advice about who to contact with more information would also be helpful. I am 83 and I was in Switzerland four years ago, but that was before I needed a walker. I love to travel and hate to never see Switzerland again!

Arno
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Jul 22, 2017 - 5:41 PM

Welcome back here Bk629!

It should be possible to enjoy Switzerland again with the walker. Is it foldable? That would help in public transport. Many walkways are fairly flat, often pretty smooth concrete. But some historical town centers do have cobblestones.

Neary all cable cars will be able to get you up to the peak, and you will be able to walk around on the platforms. The trails however will often be too rocky.

Mount Rigi would be a great excursion, with even some trails that will be doable with a walker: www.rigi.ch/en/Informa tion/Accessibility.

Last modified on Jul 22, 2017 - 5:42 PM by Arno
bk629
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Jul 22, 2017 - 9:52 PM in reply to Arno

Thank you, Arno, for your prompt and helpful response. Yes, my rollator/walker does fold. I am considering getting one with 10" front wheels, which also folds and is recommended for rough terrain.

bk629
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Jul 22, 2017 - 10:03 PM

Arno, I replied earlier before I had looked at the link you sent for Mt. Rigi. Thank you so much. That is a great site and very helpful. The pictures and details make me anxious to try it.

Arno
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Jul 23, 2017 - 12:37 PM

You're most welcome! The walker for rough terrain sounds useful as it's hard to predict which exact obstacles you may encounter, even on the easier trails and in towns.

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Jul 29, 2017 - 2:16 AM in reply to bk629

>> St. Moritz area (preferably a smaller town in the area) using a walker? I would send my luggage ahead each time.

If you are planning to send your luggage by the Express Luggage service, St Moritz would be the best place to stay rather than a smaller town, as Express Luggage is not available to the smaller towns. Here is a list of all the stations that participate in the Express Luggage service:

www.sbb.ch/content/dam /sbb/en/pdf/en_bahnhof -services/en_dienstleis tungen/en_gepaeck/Stat ionen_Reisegepaeck_Exp ress_EN.pdf

I think you have been to St Moritz before, so you will know that it has two parts to it: the upper part on the hill called St Moritz Dorf, and the lower part on mainly flat land on the other side of the lake called St Moritz Bad. You might prefer to opt for a hotel in St Moritz Bad, close to a bus stop, rather than in the hilly part of town. The town buses are low-floor, and will get you to the railway station and up to St Moritz Dorf.

>> How prevalent are cobblestone walkways? They are more difficult for walkers.

The main road through Mürren from the station to the cable car is smooth and relatively level. It's about a 20 minute walk at an easy pace.

Some of the information in my post of Jul 6, 2017 - 7:41 AM on the following page might be useful for you:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/help-with-itinerary-switzerland-and-austria-20d

>> How about Mt. Titlis?

You need to use gondolas to get to Titlis. You might have difficulty boarding and alighting from the gondolas, which are small and don't actually stop, but keep moving very slowly while people step up into them or down out of them. Alighting is the trickier thing.

However, the SBB identifies the gondolas to Titlis as fully accessible for wheelchairs, so they must have some sort of system that someone with a walker could also access. The Tourist Office in Luzern station might know, or be willing to make enquiries for you.

>> the Schilthorn?

The Schilthorn is accessed via cable cars. Cable cars are easier to board and alight from than gondolas, as they are larger, stationary for boarding and alighting, and level with the boarding platform. However, they are nearly always accessed by a long flight of stairs.

This trip is also identified as fully accessible for wheelchairs, so there must also be a lift somewhere.

>> Advice about who to contact with more information would also be helpful. I am 83 and I was in Switzerland four years ago, but that was before I needed a walker.

Before booking any hotels, you might want to confirm that they have a lift.

For cable car, funicular and gondola accessibility, I would make enquiries at the local tourist offices.

Alpenrose

Last modified on Jul 29, 2017 - 8:30 AM by Arno
Slowpoke
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Jul 29, 2017 - 10:02 AM in reply to bk629

Hi bk629 -

I've read through the thread and am impressed by the possibilities described for your travel. I have noted that a lift (elevator here in the USA, der Aufzug in German) is usually ( I believe always) available at main train stations. I do know that there is an effort made to accommodate travelers who don't walk well. For example, occasionally, I have seen station personnel bring a special lift to train side for wheelchairs...not sure when or where, however.

I am less sure not so sure about elevators at lesser ones, and it might be worth setting out the itinerary in detail, listing the stations. I've not been through Interlaken Ost recently, for example, but I remember narrow and crowded transfer passages. I'm told that they still exist.

To get a list of stations by exact name, and to plan your journey, you could use the capabilities of :

map.search.ch/?pos=635280,170280&z=32.

At the zoom level that I have selected, train tracks and cableways become visible.

In the menus, under Points of Interest/Traffic you have the option to turn on a layer showing transport stops. Zoom in until you can separate the icons, and mouse over an icon. You will get the exact name of the station/stop and limited information about a timetable to/from that stop.

Once you have a list of the stations, the SBB website will help. The home page shows a tab for Stations and Services:

www.sbb.ch/en/station-services.html

Under that, a few main stations are listed individually.

For all stations you can use "Find your Station" on the splash page, and "Find out More" in the smaller print, all showing above the large print list.

I selected Interlaken Ost.

A list of services and facilities appeared. Scroll down. Keep scrolling. Eventually you get to Equipment and Mobility at the Station. Under Equipment, you will see information, primarily for wheel chair users, that gives you some idea of what to expect. I have attached a screen grab. I do not see information about elevators, but I'm almost certain there are elevators. I guess I'd ask SBB directly via their contact form....they reply promptly...or the Interlaken Tourist Office to be 100% sure.

(Note that this process, although the basic steps are the same, is sometimes different or more complex for larger stations... for instance there sometimes appears an icon with an umbrella with a tag on it to get information on both luggage office and lost and found offices. That icon dos not appear for smaller stations, as far as I can see.)

For many larger stations, a station map, often called a "Trafimage Map" that can be expanded shows the locations of elevators, escalators, shops, toilets, etc....Attached- how to find it for Luzern.

This is the link for all that are available:

www.sbb.ch/en/station-services/railway-stations/trafimage.htm l

See attached screen grab.

One other comment.

This is something of a joke for people in the USA, who are notorious for using their cars to drive instead of walking for even short errands....

"In Switzerland, walking is a legitimate form of public transportation."

So, although facilities are provided to ease the way if you have difficulty walking, they are built onto a system and facilities that were built at first with the assumption that walking is normal and to be expected.

And, my other observation, which you may have noticed on your previous trips, is that walks and trails with a bit of incline are thought no more of than level walks. Jokingly, a "level" walk in Switzerland may ascend or descend at a significant angle.

Last, we once hiked in the Swiss National Park in the Graubüunden on a nice trail with significant elevation changes. Although we were fit hikers, we had noted that it was labelled "Handicapped Accessible." We were puzzled. We asked. We were told that it meant that the trail was wide enough for a wheel chair, and not much more than that. Hmmnn.

Slowpoke

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bk629
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Jul 29, 2017 - 12:43 PM in reply to Removed user

Thank you so much, Alpenrose, for your very helpful response. I reread your post from Jy 6, 2017. You gave several helpful tips, such as the way to avoid stairs to the old part of Luzern. The information about boarding gondolas with them moving slowly was something I had not thought of at all.

I have not been to St. Moritz or that area, and I have wanted to see the traditional homes with sgraffiti in smaller towns. Do you think I could do the bus trip to Soglio that you wrote about in a post? I could go up steps into the bus if there is a handrail, and my daughter could lift the folded walker. I would enjoy the scenery and walking some in Soglio, if feasible. I am going to do more research with the advice you have given. I do appreciate your help.

Last modified on Jul 29, 2017 - 1:10 PM by bk629
bk629
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Jul 29, 2017 - 12:52 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Slowpoke, I am very grateful to you for your helpful advice. I am going to ask my adult grandson to help me with zooming in to see details of the train stations, as you suggested, and will also do some further inquiries. It will take me awhile to do more research, and I will get back to you afterwards. However, I didn't want to wait that long to thank you for your help, time, and effort! bk629

Slowpoke
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Jul 29, 2017 - 1:52 PM in reply to bk629

Hi bk629 -

<<"I have not been to St. Moritz or that area, and I have wanted to see the traditional homes with sgraffiti in smaller towns?">>

Think about Ftan, Ardez, Guarda, maybe Scuol if there is a bus down to the lower part of town from the train station. How are you at walking on smooth surfaces for a few hundred meters if there is a modest incline?

What about the inclines visible in these images, disregarding the road surface for the moment? Lots of cobblestones ;-(. Or, maybe take a close look and comment on the roughness/difficulty?

I'll post some pictures and check out the terrain in a couple of days and get back with details. Not all will be cobblestones, if I recall correctly.

One is posted in two rotations so you don't have to turn sideways to see all of it.

Those pictures were all that were handy, but they show the charcteristic architecture, and the sgrafitto ( it is spelled with an "o"). I'll look for some more, particularly of Ftan.

Slowpoke

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bk629
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Jul 29, 2017 - 3:10 PM

Slowpoke, I could do an incline similar to the one shown in Scuol with my walker. I can walk several blocks with it and hope to be able to walk even farther by the time I would travel next year. The new walker I am considering buying has larger front wheels, and reviewers have said they used it on cobblestones in Europe and on brick, grass and gravel. The walker also has a seat, so I could rest, if necessary. I can walk short distances, such as from a parking lot into a church, restaurant, or business with only a cane. For family gatherings, I have used only the cane to go into the homes or back yards. I'm just not as steady with the cane.

The picture of Scuol is lovely.

I do appreciate your correcting my spelling.

Thank you. bk

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Jul 31, 2017 - 7:40 AM in reply to bk629

>> I have not been to St. Moritz or that area, and I have wanted to see the traditional homes with sgraffiti in smaller towns.

As Slowpoke has also suggested, Guarda and Scuol would be the best places for that.

GUARDA

When catching the train to Guarda, if your train is travelling in the direction of Scuol, make sure you are in the front half of the train. When I went to Guarda, I was in the back half of the train, and the carriage I was in came to a stop beyond the end of the paved low-rise platform. I had a bigger step down, and stepped onto unpaved ground (see attached screenshot from Google satellite view). If you have mobility limitations, you'd want to avoid that.

A small bus from Guarda station will take you right up to the centre of the village, and the main street through the village from one end to the other is more or less level.

Photos attached to my trip report will show you both the beautiful sgraffito on the houses in Guarda, the size of the bus, the gradient of the lanes and the pavement surface. You could thoroughly enjoy Guarda with little difficulty, I would imagine.

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/trip-report-lower-engadine-guarda-october-2016

SCUOL

Scuol Sot, the old part of Scuol near the River Inn, has a fairly level cobbled lane that goes through it, along which are several bus stops. You catch the town bus from Scuol-Tarasp railway station. For a level walk, get off at the stop called "Bügl Grond", and walk two stops to the stop called "Porta". There are more details about the bus, the bus stops and the timetable, in my trip report on Scuol.

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/scuol

The link to the Scuol town map in my trip report is now broken, but you can download PDF maps of Scuol and Guarda ("Ortspläne") from the following page:

www.engadin.com/servic e/informationen/ortspl aene/?R=1&S=2

Paper maps are also available in the Tourist Office (which is marked on the PDF map near the red-and-white number 39; the nearest bus stop is "Posta") and perhaps also the railway station.

Another beautiful area in Scuol is the small square called "La Plazzetta", in Scuol Sura, the upper part of town. The lane opposite the Belvédère Hotel in the street called "Stradun" provides the most direct access to La Plazzetta. It might be a bit steep for you, but it does have a handrail (see attached picture).

An alternative approach is along the lane called "Vi", which is less steep. The closest bus stop is "Bogn Engiadina". On the town map that you can download from the above link, the "Bogn Engiadina" bus stop is shown by a bus symbol near the red-and-white numbers 35 and 36.

From there, you would walk back to where the green-and-white numbers 11 and 14 are, turn left into that street (Via da l'Ospidal), then first left into "Vi". You are heading towards the blue-and-white number 82, which is La Plazzetta. There are also some lovely views of the mountains from Vi. My photos "La_Plazzetta" (11), (12) and (13) were taken from Vi (attached to my Scuol trip report).

>> Do you think I could do the bus trip to Soglio that you wrote about in a post? I could go up steps into the bus if there is a handrail, and my daughter could lift the folded walker. I would enjoy the scenery and walking some in Soglio.

Yes, I think you would be fine in Soglio. Buses are low-floor and have hand rails. It seems you have read my trip report, so are familiar with the gradient of the lanes in Soglio, and the paved surface. You do need to go up a hill to get into the village from the bus stop. I have attached photos below to give you some idea of the gradient.

>> For family gatherings, I have used only the cane to go into the homes or back yards. I'm just not as steady with the cane.

As you are taking a walker, that might be all you need, but it might be worth considering (in addition) a pair of extra-lightweight, collapsible hiking poles with (removable) rubber tips for added flexibility. Mine fit easily into the outer pocket of my suitcase for flights.

If you are taking a small backpack to carry your bits and pieces around during the day, look for one with loops on the outside to carry poles when they are not in use, such as this one:

assets.trailspace.com/ assets/8/0/2/3438594/D SC03264.jpg

With a set of hiking poles, you would really look the part, as every self-respecting man, woman, child and dog of whatever age in Switzerland would never be seen in public outside the city limits without their set of hiking poles! Well, I do exaggerate, but you will certainly see them everywhere, and they also seem to be favoured by older people instead of a walking stick.

However, hiking poles may not be a sensible option for you - only you can decide that :-)

Alpenrose

Last modified on Jul 31, 2017 - 7:44 AM by Removed user
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Jul 31, 2017 - 9:06 AM in reply to Slowpoke

>> sgrafitto ( it is spelled with an "o").

Yes, and with "ff" rather than "tt": sgraffito ;-)

Alpenrose

Slowpoke
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Jul 31, 2017 - 9:09 AM

Hi Alpenrose...Thanks. I should have remembered your posts about Scuol and the Engiadina Bassa. The one from Scuol is particularly useful for the texture of the cobblestones.

There are several types, and I don't recall the names/distinctions. But, what you show for the access lane to La Plazetta reveal a rather smooth surface. I recall that type as more common than the rougher larger blocks, which I think of as Belgian Block as shown scrolling down in this ad:

http://ecobblestone.co m/belgian-belgium-block/

How's your memory on surfaces in the major old towns? I recall the surface outside my hotel on Hirshenplatz as being fairly smooth even tough the blocks are larger than those you show in Scuol.

Also, did you post anything from Ftan? At first look, my Ftan images are on film, and my scanners are kind of quirky from lack of frequent use. I recall not much gradient, easy access by bus, quite nice houses on the level road in the village toward Ardez and a smooth-suraced pavement. Rather small, but the views of Schloss Tarasp as one ascends the hill in the bus are quite nice.

I recall that the main square is not paved with cobblestones, and the attached image from the internet confirms that, although it does not show the nicer houses along the road to Ardez, in the section called Rontsch in the map:

www.engadin.com/filead min/user_upload/custom ers/engadin/Sommer___G anzjahr/Service/Ortspl aene/Ftan_survista_201 6_Juli.pdf

By the way, Scuol-Tarasp station (the main station in Scuol) participates in the Express Luggage system.

Slowpoke

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Jul 31, 2017 - 12:26 PM in reply to Slowpoke

>> There are several types, and I don't recall the names/distinctions. But, what you show for the access lane to La Plazetta reveal a rather smooth surface. I recall that type as more common than the rougher larger blocks, which I think of as Belgian Block as shown scrolling down in this ad:

Interesting ad. I had no idea that each different type of cobblestone had a name!

Yes, the steep lane up to La Plazzetta is smooth and even to walk on, as are the other cobbled lanes of Scuol, Guarda and Soglio.

>> How's your memory on surfaces in the major old towns? I recall the surface outside my hotel on Hirshenplatz as being fairly smooth even tough the blocks are larger than those you show in Scuol.

Do you mean Luzern? I find the cobblestones there, at least in places, are somewhat uneven to walk on. You need to take care if you have dodgy knees or ankles. Spraining an ankle when on holiday is no fun! I've done it twice, and on both occasions it was the day before I had to transfer to another location with luggage in tow! Not good!

A few places in the Locarno area seem to have a penchant for paving with rounded stones, which certainly give your knees and ankles a good workout if you are not used to them. Piazza Grande is one example, and a similar type of surface is also used at Madonnna del Sasso and on the Isole di Brissago.

I've attached some photos of cobblestone surfaces in Luzern and the Locarno area!

>> Also, did you post anything from Ftan?

Yes, see here:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/trip-report-lower-engadin-ftan

>> I recall not much gradient, easy access by bus, quite nice houses on the level road in the village toward Ardez and a smooth-suraced pavement.

Yes, the road surfaces are mostly bitumen, but there are small areas of cobblestones here and there. For that reason - as well as the fact that cars have unrestricted access, and much of the village was destroyed by fire in 1885 - Ftan lacks the charm of places like Scuol and Guarda in my opinion, although it does have some superb examples of historic Engadiner houses with sgraffito.

Access by bus is certainly easy. Rontsch is level, but heading out of the main square (Plaz) up to Ftan Pitschen is mostly uphill as I recall. I didn't go up there, as I didn't have enough time.

>> Rather small, but the views of Schloss Tarasp as one ascends the hill in the bus are quite nice.

Yes, the views from the bus on the way up to Ftan are superb, especially the those of Schloss Tarasp. In my trip report, I mentioned the bus stop "Baraigla", where there is a seat overlooking the valley and castle.

>> I recall that the main square is not paved with cobblestones, and the attached image from the internet confirms that, although it does not show the nicer houses along the road to Ardez, in the section called Rontsch in the map.

I took a few photos in Rontsch, which are attached to my trip report on Ftan. The road there is bitumen. "Haus Vulpius", an Engadiner house built in 1674 is a highlight in Rontsch, but I forgot to take a photo of it :-( There's a photo on Wikipedia:

de.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Datei:Ftan_Vulpius.jpg

The best area for Engadiner houses in Ftan seems to be in the upper part of the village, which I didn't go to, but have looked at on Google Street View. The lane is called "Vichava". The houses are beautiful, but the lanes seem to be surfaced with bitumen.

Alpenrose

Last modified on Sep 12, 2018 - 3:50 PM by Arno
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Slowpoke
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Jul 31, 2017 - 1:44 PM

Hi Alpenrose-

Thanks for the data on road surfaces in Ftan, and the picture of Brisago. That surface in Brisago is the worst kind. Luzern looks as I remember it, and similar to what I recall from the Niederdorf in Zürich.

Also thanks for the help with the spelling. Romance languages are not my strength, and hasty typing is also a problem, since the spill chucker is not much use on non-English words and highlights all of them.

Sgraffito it is, until I forget.

I wonder if BK629 knows how to read topographic maps?

If so, then a map like this is very helpful:

map.geo.admin.ch/?topic=ech&lang=en&bgLa yer=ch.swisstopo.pixel karte-farbe&layers=ch.bav.ha ltestellen-oev,ch.swisstopo.swiss tlm3d-wanderwege&layers_visi bility=false,false&X=1 86199.36&Y=814161.32&z oom=10

The contour lines at this zoom setting show 10 meters altitude change.

I have attached a few from Guarda that happened to be handy on my hard drive.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Jul 31, 2017 - 1:54 PM by Slowpoke
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bk629
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Jul 31, 2017 - 8:32 PM in reply to Removed user

Alpenrose, I reread your trip reports on Guarda and Scuol. You definitely included a lot of very helpful information, such as about the train, bus stops, streets, and those necessary public toilets. I was also glad to get your opinion about seeing Soglio.

I had not looked at your pictures with the trip reports earlier, and the houses are lovely. It makes me anxious to go. Guide books do not give much information about areas outside the cities, so the tips and pictures from you, Slowpoke, and Arno are really appreciated.

I have thought of trying to use two canes at home for more stability, but I had not thought of using hiking poles on the trip. I do have two. (My husband and I bought them for a trip to Morocco with Overseas Adventure Travel, where we camped three nights at the edge of the Sahara and took two guided hikes into the dunes. I was surprised at how beautiful the dunes were--and how quiet it was--and how sad I felt when we left.) Thank you, also, for the picture of the backpack holding the hiking poles.

If you are not a teacher, you certainly have excellent teaching skills! Thank you so much.

bk629
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Jul 31, 2017 - 8:42 PM

Slowpoke, I thank you for your added information and for asking good additional questions of Alpenrose. The streets in Luzern do look more difficult, although in the one picture the sidewalks look smooth. That might not be true overall, though. The tourist information center in Luzern replied that most of the streets in the old part were cobblestone, but they didn't elaborate. The replies from you, Arno, and Alpenrose are much more helpful.

I do not know how to read the topographical map you posted, but I will see if my grandson in college can help me.

I will also check if the Express Luggage service is indeed available for Scuol. I noticed it's available at several small places in the BO region. It might also be possible to store one piece at the station and come back later and get it.

Slowpoke
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Jul 31, 2017 - 10:18 PM in reply to bk629

Hi bk629.

<<"I will also check if the Express Luggage service is indeed available for Scuol. I noticed it's available at several small places in the BO region. It might also be possible to store one piece at the station and come back later and get it. ">>

The link that Alpenrose posted gives the answers:

www.sbb.ch/content/dam /sbb/en/pdf/en_bahnhof -services/en_dienstleis tungen/en_gepaeck/Stat ionen_Reisegepaeck_Exp ress_EN.pdf

My earlier post in this thtread shows how to find out all the information about a particular station, including luggage offices and lockers.

By the way, would you consider staying in Scuol? or do you have definite plans for somewhere else? I have never stayed down there....always Ftan or Guarda.

I don't know if you have thought about this, but thermal ("healing") baths have been a way of life at that end of the valley for years. Perhaps 15 years ago , a brand new, very nice spa opened in the center of Scuol...on the hillside... We used its elevators to take us well up the hillside when we did not want to make the climb. Perhaps the baths could help your condition. I've never tried them.

www.myswitzerland.com/ en-us/scuol.html

www.myswitzerland.com/ en-us/all-inclusive-wellness.html

www.graubuenden.ch/en/ offer/scuol-samnaun-val-mustair/spa-breaks-pampering

Topographic maps -

Learning to read topos will help you a lot to understand how steep the slopes are:

This article is quite good:

www.rei.com/learn/expe rt-advice/topo-maps-how-to-use.html

It does refer to USA maps ( with 20 foot or 40 foot contour intervals). It also mentions that every fifth contour is a heavy line, to help keep you oriented. Swiss maps use the same concepts, but may have different altitude values or spacing between the lines. That is - on the Swisstopos that I use, the contour lines are often at 10 meters ( approx. 33 feet) or 20 meter (approx. 66 feet) altitude intervals, and the heavier lines with altitude numbers written on them may be 10 lines apart or 5 lines apart. Usually that is a 100 meter ( roughly 330 feet) elevation change. If maps are expanded to show a a lot of detail, sometimes the elevation interval between two heavy lines is 50 meters, thus only about 165 feet.)

For your use the most important learning is that if the contour lines are close together, the slope is steep.

Grandchildren always know more of this stuff than we do....good luck.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Jul 31, 2017 - 10:28 PM by Slowpoke
bk629
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Aug 1, 2017 - 12:23 AM

Thank you, Slowpoke, for another very helpful post. You replied so quickly that I think Slowpoke may be a misnomer!

I will check out the article about using topographical maps. I do live in the U.S.

I would consider Scuol as a base, and since luggage can be delivered there, I will look into the possibility. The thermal baths might be helpful. I tore a hip tendon and had surgery a year ago, but I have not been able to walk without the walker or a cane since then. The gluteus medius muscle had atrophied quite a bit before the surgery. The baths wouldn't help cure the problem but would probably help the pain, which would allow me to do more strengthening exercises.

Planning for a trip and traveling would also be inspirational for me. Because of your help, along with the help of others on this site, I'm feeling more and more confident that I would be able to enjoy many things in Switzerland, even with my mobility issues. Many thanks!

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