The Wine Way


As it’s Sunday today (I’m halfway through my stay now) after lunch we took ourselves off (Agnes and I) to Malans to try out part of the Weinwanderweg. It was a lovely sunny, warm afternoon after a week of cloud and cold and rain. The train journey takes about 8 minutes and Malans is a ‘stop on demand’ so you ring the bell if you wish to get off.

A vineyard

Vineyard near Malans

Info boards

An Information Board Along the Route

The route is well-signposted and passes countless vineyards, some perched almost perpendicular to the footpath. At first there’s a loop from the station and you climb up to get a good view of the vines and the the Rhine Valley.



Centre of Malans

The centre of Malans

The path passes through the village of Malans and then along a shady forest path emerging briefly onto a quiet road near the village of Jenins.

map reading

On the other side of Jenins A remembered a particularly nice restaurant where we could sit in the sunshine and taste the wine for ourselves.

Weinstube Alten Torkel

The Weinstube Alter Torkel

The destination

As we are here we had better taste the wine to make sure it is good

The view

The View was OK too – the Rhine Valley and Chur

View towards Bad Ragaz and former monastery

And this way towards Bad Ragaz and the former Monastery at Pfäfers

As we had taken the walk slowly inspecting trees and flowers and admiring the view we soon realised that we would have to hurry down to the station in Maienfeld. But there was a call to Luciano who was on the way back to Schiers and he kindly diverted to pick us up so we could back in good time to welcome the next guest arriving by car from Belgium.


The Albula Line for Kids … and me

I noticed at the station in Davos that in order to capture children’s imagination and encourage them to hike along the Albula Experience Way a book has been published : Türli und Flidari auf dem Bahnerlebnisweg. Then at each Information Board as you walk the route between Preda (1792m ASL and freezing cold!) and Bergün you notice the little T&F cartoons.

Furli and Flidari

Türli und Flidari auf dem Bahnerlebnisweg

Brio Albula

On one board there’s an explanation of how the line has been built to rise so high in the Alps. It is likened to the corkscrew attached to the wee red Swiss Army knife.

Cork screw

The Corkscrew


The Explanation : is this really for kids?

My favourite was this one which shows in Tintin-like fashion what the third class carriages were like 100 years ago!

3rd class seats

The Chalet : My Place of work

Earlier this week I looked out of the kitchen window and noticed two old men standing outside the house and looking up at it whilst talking to each other. Then I saw Agnes approach them and join the conversation. It turns out that one of the men was involved in building the house back in 1948. It’s a lovely wooden house – old but not ancient. When Agnes bought it about three years ago it was divided into two separate dwellings so, although she has had the ‘ground’ floor opened into one with a lovely long hall, the first floor rooms are quite separate from one another and there are two staircases.

Agnes’ loft area is one large open space at the top of the house. The East side was totally uninhabitable so it was the first area to get the renovation treatment and now is equipped with two guest bedrooms – single and double – and a modern bathroom. On the ‘ground’ floor the modern kitchen and dining room are open plan and that’s an area where ‘staff’ and guests can mingle.

I put ground floor in inverted commas because literally on the ground floor are the workrooms, laundry, washing lines etc.

Schiers Chalet

The Wooden House nestles into the hillside

Double Guest Room

The Double Room is ready for guests

Flora and Fauna above Davos

After the morning ‘work’ was done yesterday I decided to head off in the opposite direction from Chur and visit Davos. Due to work on the line this summer the train only goes as far as Klosters and from there you have to take a replacement bus to Davos Platz. There is another station called Davos Dorf and although it’s all one place it must be 1.5 to 2 miles between the two.

Alpinum poster

From the station I saw sign pointing to a cable car/funicular entitled “Schatzalp”. I can’t spend long in Switzerland without being tempted to take a trip up a mountain as soon as the opportunity arises. Many of the lifts are closed in between seasons but this one was open so I jumped aboard and was soon whisked away almost into the clouds. But not quite.

Alpinum 1

On leaving the “Berg Station” (1861m ASL) I was confronted by a large hotel and the directions to the Alpinum. Along a corridor and out onto the hotel terrace the gardens stretch below. It was 8C but the air was very special, clean and fresh and clear and the views magnificent – despite the clouds.

Here are some pictures of the views and gardens of the Alpinum.

Alpinum 2

Alpinum 3

Alpinum 5

Alpinum 6


Wild flower meadow

Insect hotel

An Insect Hotel

From the Alpinum I took the footpath gently down back into Davos itself and so back to Schiers.

Self Davos

On the path with Davos in the valley

Spot the birdie

Snapped this bird – but no idea what it is!


Finally, here is the hotel cat taking 40 winks. He’s called Barry but that is normally a dog’s name in Switzerland – especially St Bernards.

A Bookish Afternoon in Chur

When in Chur last week I visited several bookshops – secondhand and new. I decided to go back there yesterday to buy a couple more English language books. I chose Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and John Boyne’s The Absolutist. So I’ve now added to the very few titles that I brought with me and to the five picked up in Bern at the weekend.

My Books

As I wandered up the main street in the Old Town the sun came out and I decided to hunt for another book box. Fontana Park in Chur is a pretty square just behind the main street and by a busy road.

Fontana Park Chur 1

Fontana Park

Fontana Park

In its present form, Fontana Park has reverted to the boundaries of the former Baroque garden from before 1860. With its refurbishment, the park has become a multi-purpose recreation area. The flower parterre in front of the old building still has its original length. Due to the lack of historical sources, the planting has been done in the contemporary style. Changing flower beds alternate side by side with boxwood beds, and potted plants complement the floral aspect. The modern fencing means that the park can be closed off at night while retaining the required degree of transparency.Source

Fontana Park Lesebank

Fontana Park is also another location for a reading bench and box. I rummaged through the box picked two titles for closer inspection and was joined by another lady who picked an urban gardening title. The box had been used much more than the first one I visited and the notebook is filled with children’s drawings and scribbles.

Engadine sayings

The two books were one of Engadiner Sayings; words of wisdom that have been stencilled onto houses in the region and one about local artist Angelika Kauffman.

Angelika Kauffman

Self Portrait of the Prolific Artist Angelika Kauffman (1741-1807)

Also in the park is a memorial to Captain Benedikt Fontana :

Captain Benedikt Fontana

The bronze Fontana memorial dates from the year 1903 and is in memory of Captain Benedikt Fontana. He was an episcopal bailiff who officiated at the southern border of the Three Leagues. He died in 1499 during the Swabian War at the battle of Calven, allegedly a martyr’s death, before the Graubünden army put the Habsburgs to flight. The monument was created by the Swiss sculptor Richard Kissling, whose works also include the Tell monument in Altdorf.Source

Finally, I do love the Swiss window displays. This one in a jewellery and watch shop in Chur.

Window display


Me and RakiRaki is probably my favourite of the Rossgasse cats. Poor Raki was found in a bin in Zurich by Agnes’ daughter’s neighbour. The neighbour had enough cats already but was on the look out for someone to take him on. So, Agnes stepped in. Raki is disabled from brain damage but able to get around in a clumsy ‘drunken’ fashion; hence his name. Raki is a Turkish alcoholic drink. One of Agnes’ favourite holiday locations is Crete and raki is also called by that name in Crete. “Cretan tsikoudia (which is also known locally as raki)


When the food is being distributed Raki can MOVE! He hobbles along so quickly. He could, of course, also be called Lucky. Not only is Raki a survivor from birth but he has a penchant for lying in the road outside the house. About 6 cars a day come along this road and he doesn’t always move out of the way so the cars stop and someone gets out and lifts Raki to the roadside out of danger.

Raki in the Road

Raki in the road

Raki again

Back to nature – high up in the Alps

This weekend I spent with good friends of mine in Bern. Saturday was quite restful, just a wander round the market, coffee with another friend and a rest/reading in the afternoon. There was a party – 50th birthday of two friends of Barbara and Paul – in the evening.

The highlight of the weekend, however, was a visit to their alpine retreat in Kleine Melchtal. Our drive took us past Lake Thun, Interlaken, Brienz, over the Brünig Pass (in 1977 I worked at the Hotel Alpenruhe in Haslital), down to Lungern in Obwalden (I worked at the Hotel Rössli in Lungern in 1975) and along the valley as far as Sachslen where we stopped for a coffee. Part of the final track is restricted – odd hours down and even hours up – so we waited until after 12noon before undertaking the final ascent to the alp high up in the Kleine Melchtal.

Walk to the Alp Hut

From the car park to the hut is not far

B is happy to be here

Barbara is happy to be here!

1131m above sea level


B's garden protected from straying cows

Barbara’s garden is protected from straying cows!


Edelweiss in the garden

The weather wasn’t so good – the cloud hung low over the neighbouring mountains – but it didn’t rain. When we arrived Paul lit the fire and Barbara showed me around the hut. There’s no electricity, no running water (just a spring of fresh water) and everything must be kept in huge plastic boxes to prevent damp and keep mice out.

Downstairs living area

The downstairs living area

One bedroom

One of the bedrooms

It was lovely to eat outside on the terrace – ‘toasted’ cervelat and sausage. Then a short walk to some waterfalls and hiking paths and back to tidy up and leave the alp.

Lunch in the alp

Lunch on the alp

Common spotted orchid

Common Spotted Orchid we saw on our walk

Many walking possibilities

Some hiking possibilities. Nearby Aelggi is the geographical centre of Switzerland.

The hut in Kleine Melchtal

The hut from our walk

The shower

You may shower here if you like!

They then drove me to Lucerne Station from where I took the train back to Schiers.

How to make a Swiss Bircher Muesli

It is now my job to make the Bircher Muesli each evening ready for breakfast the next day. On previous visits to Switzerland I don’t think I ever had this dish for breakfast. In the past I have had it as a supper dish – but I could have misremembered. Anyway it is a very popular dish with our present guests who are from Germany.

Muesli 1

On Monday evening Agnes and I made the Muesli dish together. On Tuesday she entrusted me to make the whole thing. For this all measurements are approximate – a handful of this, a squeeze of that, any available fruit either grated or chopped, pour in some milk, some cream, some yogurt and taste, adding more sugar if needed.

Muesli 2

The oats go in first

Muesli 3

Muesli 4

I think it was a success!