Back home from holiday and time to write my trip reports. I will start with a brief account of what we got up to in our first week which we spent in a lovely hotel in St. Moritz. We were lucky with the weather and managed to do lots of things we hadn’t done before. The hotel gave us a travel card and using it saved us lots of money as it covered all local transport including mountain gondolas etc. They also gave us lots of vouchers to use, ranging from free meals to special excursions!!
The first day we went on a scenic bus ride to a village called Soglio (thanks Alpenrose for the suggestion!) – the ride down into the valley on a switch back of roads is spectacular and the village itself afforded great views and the winding streets were fascinating. We had been given a voucher for lunch which was gnocchi made with chestnut flour in a chestnut and mushroom sauce and pieces of chestnut – it was really tasty and certainly new to us.
The second day we decided to go to Chur and up by the cable car to Brambrüesch which is billed as Chur’s home mountain – more visited by local people than by tourists we suspect. We enjoyed another tasty meal (not free this time!) and took a walk along part of a trail, lots of flowers and butterflies. Then we went down into town to explore the old town for a while. I have never been very successful at taking photographs from a moving train or bus – too many reflections in the windows etc. but I decided to adopt a “point, shoot and hope” policy and just see if anything worth while resulted! Got a few half-decent shots which I will attach later.
Next day we went to one place we have been to before but not since our first visit to Switzerland in 2001 so worth going back! This was to Piz Corvatsch – again covered by pass and we had a meal voucher from hotel – this time for braised beef and polanta and vegetables – beautifully cooked and really delicious. No room for pudding but we asked if we could buy something to take away and she brought us our chosen pastries all neatly wrapped up on a plate covered in tinfoil! The views from the viewing platform were really clear as it was a bright sunny day. The labelled pictures on display gave you an idea of which mountains were which as you looked at them. After we came down it was still quite early so we took another cable car up to Signal which we went up to last year but this time we went on a short mostly downhill trail to Chanterellas to take the funicular down to the town. There were loads of beautiful flowers all along the walk and good views of St. Moritz down in the valley.
The following day involved a quite complicated bit of planning! We had a voucher for a cruise on Lake Sils – a privately run small motor boat rather than the big ships you see on the big lakes, and also a voucher for a horse and carriage ride into the Fex Valley. So I had to do some searching for ways to fit both in! Took bus first to Sils where we found the boat cruise – that took us from Sils to Maloja – about 40 mins cruise –quite different from others we have been on as you will see from the size of the boat!. We then had to get another bus back to Sils to take the horse and carriage ride through the forest and down into the Fex Valley – another very new experience, riding first through forest then the valley. We had yet another lunch voucher but in fact didn’t use it as we were tempted by different offerings on the menu from the voucher ones! All along the ride we enjoyed different views from the usual mountain top views most tourists are looking for, the hotel at the end of the ride where we ate was great and we even saw a small herd of alpacas in a field nearby which the farmer told us were his hobby! Then the ride back in the carriage to Sils where we found a great bakery with things we could buy for tea and then after indulging in ice-cream took bus back to hotel. A full but very interesting day.
By this time I was beginning to feel the effects of being out every day so decided to have a rest day while Mike explored on his own. He decided to tackle the trail from Muottas Muragl to Alp Languard which was on my list of possible outings though I had been a bit unsure about whether I could manage it. Anyway it turns out I would have found it a bit tough going – it was apparently a lovely walk but if the Swiss call something a level walk it just means you end up at much the same altitude as you start at not that it is flat – it involves ups and downs! I guess we are just feeling our age these days! Mike says he heard lots of marmots whistling but didn’t see any but that’s fairly normal.
On our last full day we wanted to visit the Swiss National Park but got slightly confused between the actual park and the National Park Museum in Zernez (you’ve guessed it a voucher from hotel) so the day was not quite as planned! We found the Museum OK and it was very interesting with lots of interactive stuff to play about with – but we had assumed we could get access to the Park itself from there but we had to get a train to S-Champf where there was a small tourist train to take you into the Park (another voucher!) but timing wasn’t great so we had quick snack in a great little café while we waited for tourist train to turn up. We rode the train into the Park but there wasn’t time for a walk so we rode it back out again to Zuos! (next year maybe we will try again and get it right! In the museum we picked up a book of walks and a map so will research it properly!) Instead of taking train back to St. Moritz we decided go by a couple of buses instead. I so admire the way those drivers manage to drive a bus along a road between houses only just wide enough to get through. You get to see different things sometimes if you choose to use a bus as an alternative to repeating your rail journey out.
Back at the hotel we went to down to settle our bill and make arrangements to have a lift with our luggage to the station next morning (sending it ahead to save hauling it around on trains to Thun!) – we were given all sorts of pressies – 2 bottles of wine, a nut- torte, a small bag of barley to make barley soup, bottles of water! This hotel may seem expensive when you first look at it but here is so much extra stuff like the Engadine card and the vouchers on offer and freely given, a generous plate of fresh fruit in the room, the view from the room is wonderful, the room itself spacious with everything you need - they even offer the use of a rucksack and pair of binoculars during your stay and the staff are super-helpful and friendly. The last morning went smoothly – we took the luggage down to the station, had a lift back up again to have breakfast then a final lift to station to catch Glacier Express to Brig. (by the way we had told the hotel about my medical condition and how I might find the steep walk up from the station to the hotel a bit difficult so they told us to phone for a lift when we arrived at the station in the evenings and they came down and picked us up from there!) Journey on the Glacier Express was lovely – had lunch at our seats (not pre-booked – just ordered from the menu – we had barley soup then I had apfel strudel with custard and Mike had a platter of meats and cheeses etc. – they asked if we wanted an extra plate so we could share the platter but I was happy with just soup and dessert) and of course we enjoyed the views. The train personnel were very helpful – one even brought a compass to show a small boy how the train was altering direction in a tunnel. We made our connection in Brig (just!) for train on to Thun, where we bought a few essentials in the Co-op before collecting our cases at the station and being collected there by the landlady who owns the holiday apartment in Uetendorf (just few minutes by S-Bahn from Thun) which we then stayed in for 3 weeks.
To be continued………..
first group of photos are Soglio then Corvatsch. Not sure why they have a gorilla in a garden in Soglio but took his picture as I thought it was fun!