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.
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.
The River Rhine in the Ruinaulta
At Carrerabach – edge of the protected natural area where we had to divert away from the river
Up to meadowland
A Swiss Bee Hive
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!
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.
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 :
Fifteen minutes later boarded the Cable Car (only one passenger – please, close the door and send it back down) :
About ten minutes after that landed at Eggli :
Climbed the steps to the obligatory mountain restaurant :
Five minutes on was admiring the view from the terrace :
And the apricot tart :
And watching the hang gliders :
Before starting my descent to Schiers :
The first part of the walk is the Blumenweg [Flower Way] :
The flowers and information boards match up nicely :
Then it gets more difficult and, after the rain we had last week, distinctly muddy.
Nice to get onto a dry, tarmac road and be around civilisation after a while.
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.
Türli und Flidari auf dem Bahnerlebnisweg
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
An Insect Hotel
From the Alpinum I took the footpath gently down back into Davos itself and so back to Schiers.
On the path with Davos in the valley
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.
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.
From the car park to the hut is not far
Barbara is happy to be here!
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.
The downstairs living area
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 on the alp
Common Spotted Orchid we saw on our walk
Some hiking possibilities. Nearby Aelggi is the geographical centre of Switzerland.
The hut from our walk
You may shower here if you like!
They then drove me to Lucerne Station from where I took the train back to Schiers.
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.
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.
From the parking area we took a narrow path (not shown on the map) parallel with the Prätigauer Höheweg.
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.
Looking back on our path to PartnunSee
The Lunch Stop at The Berghaus Sulzfluh
Älplermagrone lunch dish – now you see you it …
Now you don’t !