Ten Days in Switzerland (with a foray into Italy)

The 1st August is not only Yorkshire Day but also Swiss National Day so I wore both badges to celebrate. Tomorrow I’m off to visit friends including a check on how the B&B business has survived the last year without me.

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So my Swiss Diary is being revived for just a 10 days. Hopefully I will have found my way around this iPad sufficiently well to post briefly with a picture each day.

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Home Again

I’ve been home now for 24 hours so that’s the end of my daily posting on My Swiss Diary. Who knows, I may be back again next year? Thanks to everyone who kept me company on this adventure!

On Way to Station

Leaving Rossgasse On My Way to Schiers Station Early on Sunday Morning

All Packed and Ready Go …

My bag is ready for tomorrow

Today I did my last everything … ironing, cooking, cleaning, serving guests. Then I took my cases to Chur Railway Station where there’s a service that checks you in for your flight and relieves you of your bags so that you can travel by train unencumbered to the airport. I’ll next see them tomorrow lunchtime in Manchester. After a quiet afternoon chatting with a new guest, Agnes and I served the evening meal outside again on the terrace.

… But then this evening I discovered the handbook Agnes must have meant me to read in advance of my starting to work here : The Sunlight Book of Housework. It was on the book shelves in my room! Surely a hint as to how the housework here must be done!

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Now, I’m intrigued to see all the jobs I did :

Brushes

A bit of brushing and sweeping

Washbasin

Cleaning the wash basins

Mending

A bit of mending

Hoovering

Vacuum cleaning

Some ‘Hoovering’

Breakfasts

Serving the Guest Breakfasts and Sometimes Dinner

Washing

Popping the Laundry in the Washing Machine

Drying

Popping it in the Drier

Ironing

All the Ironing

Plus all those travels and hikes … I’ll be glad to get home for a rest!!

Home again!

What a Finale!

Today Agnes hired a car in order to take me to the places I hadn’t been during my stay! What a challenge. But we did pretty well.

We walked around the Cresta See. You have heard of the Cresta Run (I saw it in St Moritz last Saturday). well, this is the Cresta Lake near Flims. A natural lake deep in the forest with paths and picnic spots and safe bathing areas. Of course, it has the expected restaurant and other facilities too.

Cresta See

Cresta See

Cresta Run

The Cresta Run

Then we drove to Vals where the world famous spa baths designed by local architect Peter Zumthor are built of local granite. We decided not to indulge our senses here but to wait until the end of the day.

Vals

Vals Dorf

So after looking around the village of Vals itself, looking in at the Landi shop (always worth a peep)

Swiss Babygro (Onesey??)

Cute Swiss babygro

Yodelfest

And they really do have yodelling fests!

we picknicked by the little shrine/pilgrim church of Santa Maria da Campo.

Sta Maria da Campo

On our way back Agnes diverted to Schloss Haldenstein near Chur for which I had a brochure and had thought worthy of a visit. Indeed it is! It’s a very special rose garden. In the summer there are outdoor theatrical and operatic performances. We had coffee/apple juice in the delightful garden overlooked by Chur’s mountain Calanda.

Haldenstein

The Schloss

Apple juice

The Apple Juice and Garden

Then (after a supermarket shop) we drove back to Bad Ragaz for the icing on the cake – a two hour session at the Thermal Baths of Bad Ragaz. Wonderful! I didn’t take my camera with me but this is what it’s like.

A Last walk Around Schiers

Tomorrow Agnes is arranging to pick up a car via the Swiss Mobility programme and she wants to take me to some places that I haven’t been yet! That will be lovely as on Saturday I have to clean my room and bathroom and pack my case. In the afternoon I will take advantage of the Fly Luggage arrangement via Swiss Railways in partnership with Swiss Airlines. On Sunday I fly home and my Swiss Adventure will be over for this year. But another year … who knows?

Lunch

So after the morning jobs and lunch and a rest I took off for a final walk down to the road and into Schiers. You can get a good view of the house from the road and also check that the donkeys are OK!

The Chalet

Rossgasse

Rossgasse 2

Rossgasse 3

Chalet from the road

The Chalet from the Road below

The farm below

The Farm Below our Chalet

Donkey

Our Donkey Neighbour

Schiers main street

Schiers Main Street

Looking forward to tomorrow’s trip. Agnes has two weeks holiday from her job in Landquart so it will also be nice for her to get out for a while. In the meantime the guests will dine with us this evening.

Another day, another country. Liechtenstein

Am just back from warm and sunny Liechtenstein. Less than an hour away by train and train and bus I just had to add another country and capital city to my list!

Schloss Vaduz from Löwen

The Vaduz Castle from the Gasthof Löwen terrace

Really, it is just an extension of Switzerland across the River Rhine. I had a drink on the terrace of the 600-year old Gasthof Löwen, took the bus up to Triesenberg and visited the Heimat Museum, taking in the “Diashow” telling the story of the local area which was interesting. But I must say once you have seen one Heimat Museum you have seen them all. Anyway, this one had a bit of additional history that I hope to post about elsewhere.

Obligatory cow bells

Obligatory Cow Bell Display

The usual weaving loom

The Standard Heimat Museum Weaving Loom

Traditional bonnet

Traditional Liechtensteiner Bonnet

Back down in Vaduz I was even tempted into the Briefmarkenmuseum by this poster outside :

Views concerning letters

It was worth the Free Entry to see the selection of engravings.

How shall I start?

How shall I begin?

The postman

The Postman : a walking stationer and letter-box

… yes, yes, a country the size of a postage stamp needs a postage stamp museum.

Philately Museum

Literary stamps

Famous Characters from Classical Literature Stamps

There was time for tea and tart near the bus station where I then boarded the slow bus back to Sargans and only just made my connecting train. I had promised Agnes that I would be back in time to greet a guest arriving between 5 and 6. And I was. Phew!

Liechtenstein book cupboard

And an Open Liechtenstein Books Cupboard : Take, Exchange, Give

In Chur today

It’s hot and muggy here today and we have new guests from Germany. So I worked on the room this morning and after a late lunch I thought I’d have another trip to Chur. I wandered through the old town to the Arcas Square where there’s another Lesebank. I had a quick look but decided to carry on reading my own book on a shady bench on the opposite side of the square.

Arcas Square

In Arcas Square (above and below)

Arcas

Then I visited the Cathedral (Kathedrale St Maria Himmelfahrt). Is it old is it new? It’s an excellent combination of both. A recent renovation in sympathy with the old.

Then I looked in a dress shop [Boutique Ivka] and was finally tempted by the lovely owner to go in and although I explained that I was not going to buy she seemed happy to show me various very tempting items and I even tried some on … but did not succumb. Some very lovely, flattering pieces in stock!

Finally, though having seen myself in the full length mirror, I still headed for Marron the cafe opposite the station where you choose a piece of Plum Tart (or whatever) and a tea (Vanilla and Rooibos, in this case) and watch the world (or at least the city of Chur and the train to Arosa) go past.

Smells and Sounds of Switzerland

We have no guests for two days so having caught up with ironing and having done several machine loads of laundry yesterday I’ve had a pretty free day today. There’s now another heap of ironing but I’ll get on with that later. I could have made  another excursion today but decided to mooch around the chalet reading and resting and generally catching up with emails and texting after the weekend’s activities. I did pop down to the little Co-op supermarket at the other end of town.

I can post plenty of sights of Switzerland and have been doing so but there are also some very distinctive smells and sounds which are impossible convey over the internet. (I suppose I could search Youtube for some cow bells and you’ve already heard the yodelling!)

Cows opposite

The cows in the field opposite

Opening the dining room and kitchen windows this morning we could sniff the freshly mown hay. Hiking through the pine woods there is also a damp pine needle smell.

Forest path

Damp woodland smells

Flower meadow

Then out in the open meadows there is the smell of all those wild flowers. Honeysuckle and roses are the most distinctive.

Hay making

Neighbours loading up the hay – 21st century style

The most prominent sound here at the chalet is the tinkle of cow (mixed with goat) bells. There’s a donkey in the field opposite as well and he/she brays from time to time. Then there are the church bells that seem to ring around noon every day.

Church tower

And there’s the birdsong when out on the mountains and meadows. Unfortunately we can also hear the road, which, although some distance away can be quite loud at times, presumably due to the nature of the valley formation. I do love to hear the sound of a train coming and always look to see the red carriages disappearing up or down the valley.

Schiers train

When out hiking you can always hear the sounds of rushing water as the streams and waterfalls tumble their melted snow water into the valleys below and the gentle tinkle of the spring water piped into an often fancy water trough.

Mountain stream

Mountain torrent

Water trough

Alpine Water Trough

Sunday Lunch in the Alps

Before Susanne and Ueli drove home this afternoon they decided we should have a walk and lunch together at a nearby place recommended by a friend of Susanne’s who originates from this area.

Gasthaus Fädara

The Gasthaus Fädara

It’s just a twenty minute drive up hill and through the village of Seewis to the car park for Fadära. A further twenty minutes on foot and you arrive at the restaurant to make a reservation and just to finally work up an appetite you can walk a for further twenty minutes (and back) to a viewing point called Fadära Stein (stone or, in this case, cliff).

View 1

View from The Fädara Stein – looking up the Rhine Valley (northeast)

View 2

View down the Rhine (south) towards Chur

Fädara terrace

Restaurant Terrace

Sunny and warm on the restaurant terrace – a group of ladies in their traditional costumes were dining together in the cosy Alpine restaurant.

Costumed lady

Susanne and I shared this typical dish of the region. It’s a bit like small dumplings in a pesto and cream sauce with, of course, the ubiquitous cheese, plus hazelnuts. Needless to say it disappeared very quickly along with glass of, also local, riesling.

Pizokels

Hausgemachter Bündner Pizokels

On our way back to the car Ueli saw a ribbon fluttering in the meadow and rescued one of those postcards where you send it back to the organiser to tell them where you found it. I discovered when I got home that it came over the border from Austria – in fact not so very far away! It had been released into the air by wedding guests the day before.

Postcard

Please return this postcard to the newly-weds and tell them where you found it!

How the other half lives!

Don’t think I can write anything this evening. I am so tired and must be up with the lark as a guest would like early breakfast and is leaving tomorrow. That means that with my friends I can have my own leisurely breakfast. Agnes went to Zurich to visit family overnight.

We were in St Moritz, Sils Maria and Guarda today. Two long journeys – one over the Juler Pass and back over the Flüela Pass where the lake is still frozen over and there’s snow in heaps!

Lake at St Moritz

Lakeside Walk at St Moritz

Nietzche's House in Sils Maria

Nietzche’s House in Sils Maria

Inquisitive  goat

Inquisitive Goat in Guarda in Engadine