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

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Ruinaulta (Romansch for Rhine Gorge)

This morning as I prepared the breakfasts I thought I would just have a nice quiet ‘moochy’ day. Take a walk around the Schiers area, finish my current book, upload some photos to Flickr, sit on the terrace with a pot of tea chatting with Agnes. But Agnes came home and declared that today we should take a trip to the Rhine Gorge, buy a day-ticket for hopping on and off trains and buses and do a bit of hiking – so who am I to complain??

We cleared away the pots, shoved in them in the dishwasher, put a load of laundry in the washing machine, donned our boots and headed for the station. The station booking clerk sold us the ticket, gave us a timetable and we headed off down to Chur. There was a 50 minute wait at Chur so Agnes suggested a nice cafe across the way. We chose a pastry each and a tea and before too long we were hurrying to the platform and the train to … who knows where? I only know that we got off at a request stop Valendas-Sagogn (it’s all Romansch language round here) and walked back to the previous station.

Vlendas-Sagogn Station

I thought it would be a walk between the Rhine and the railway line. But no way! It was at first, then went up to meadows and down to forest and over heaps of stone and along wooded tracks and all the time with magnificent views of the cliffs and caves on the opposite bank and to the noise of rushing torrents.

River Rhine

The River Rhine in the Ruinaulta

At Carrerabach

At Carrerabach – edge of the protected natural area where we had to divert away from the river

Rhine Gorge

Up to meadowland

Meadow walking

Swiss bee hive

A Swiss Bee Hive

Rhine and Rail

Rhine and rail

At Versam-Safien we caught the postbus to Tenna. This amazing village high, high up in the Alps at 1654m ASL has a shop, post office, hotel with sun terrace, school and church. I can’t imagine that the road is kept open all year to serve this community of 110 inhabitants … but it is!

Postbus at Tenna

Alpenblick Tenna

Sunny Terrace at the Hotel Alpenblick, Tenna

Back at Versam-Safien station we had only a minute or two to wait for the train to Chur where we made a quick dash to the little station supermarket for a few essentials for the evening meal before making our way back home for dinner outside on the terrace in the last of the evening sun.

Another Day, Another Mountain Footpath

On the Wine Trail yesterday we went past a Cable Car Station so this morning when Agnes said that after doing breakfast, the ironing and a couple of other ‘chores’ I could take the rest of the day off I asked her about the aforementioned Cable Car. “Oh, there’s a much nearer one with much better views,” said Agnes and she then proceeded to tell me about the Postbus to Fanas from Schiers Station and the cable car to Eggli and the restaurant high up there at Eggli and the footpath down to Schiers. How could I resist.

So I took the 1.30pm Post Auto from the station :

Post auto bus

Fifteen minutes later boarded the Cable Car (only one passenger – please, close the door and send it back down) :

Fanas Cable Car

About ten minutes after that landed at Eggli :

Eggli station

Climbed the steps to the obligatory mountain restaurant :

Restaurant

Five minutes on was admiring the view from the terrace :

Eggli view

And the apricot tart :

Apricot tart

And watching the hang gliders :

Hang gliders

Before starting my descent to Schiers :

Signpost Schiers

The first part of the walk is the Blumenweg [Flower Way] :

Blumenweg

The flowers and information boards match up nicely :

The flowers match up w info

Then it gets more difficult and, after the rain we had last week, distinctly muddy.

Footpath

Nice to get onto a dry, tarmac road and be around civilisation after a while.

Me

The Wine Way

Weinwanderweg

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.

Malans

Malans

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

Explanation

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

On the Prättigau Höheweg

When the jobs were done today we went for a hike from nearby St Antonien. It’s a small village – quite popular with tourists and visitors as it has several restaurants, hotels and a tourist information centre.

hike map

I should explain that Agnes looks after a sick person on three nights and the temperature must be static at 25C. So after so much air conditioning over 3 days and with no new guests arriving she was eager get out on a “Wanderweg” – hiking path. The other Workawayer, Luciano from Sicily, drove us to St Antonien and accompanied us on our excursion.

footpath sign

From the parking area we took a narrow path (not shown on the map) parallel with the Prätigauer Höheweg.

a cow blocks the way

We passed cows going up to the mountain pastures (Transhumance – just like we learned in school all those years ago), meadows full of wild flowers including gentian, crossed rushing streams, admired the mountain views, had lunch at a mountain restaurant and walked around a lake before heading back down via the Höheweg.

Wild flower meadows

Wildflower meadows

gentian

Gentians

a mountain view

Looking back on our path to PartnunSee

Lunch stop

The Lunch Stop at The Berghaus Sulzfluh

Alpler magrone

Älplermagrone lunch dish – now you see you it …

Empty dish

Now you don’t !

Partnunsee

Partnunsee (Lake)