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.

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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 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

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

Irises

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!

Barry

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.

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

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.

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)