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A Winter Wander – Engadine and Berner Oberland

A Winter Wander – Engadine and Berner Oberland

Old Jan 31st, 2014, 11:31 PM
Join Date: Jan 2009
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Thank you, melnq8! That's really useful information. Having never experienced a European winter it would be lovely to visit at that time. We try, as far as possible, to travel slightly off season but school holidays do place restrictions on when we can go.
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 12:00 AM
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Melnq8 - no, it's really 12 CHF from St. Moritz to Chantarella. The longer leg Chantarella - Corviglia is also 12 CHF ... yes, walking up to Chantarella is the better option.

Anyway, sounds like you enjoyed your time in the Upper Engadine. Buses do run much more frequently in main season, roughly every half hour, additional buses are the #3 in St. Moritz, roughly every 20 minutes a loop through the town, or the local ski buses (free) in Sils and Silvaplana. More trains then also.
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 12:33 AM
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Thanks Ingo. We live, we learn.
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 01:20 AM
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December 11: The kindness of strangers

Claudia had sent us a note advising we could have the apartment until 2 pm, so we decided to explore a bit more before moving on. An early morning walk through Samedan inadvertently led us to the walking track to Celerina, so we followed it, enjoying the beautiful day and stunning views (two hours, four miles). We could see Samedan, Celerina and Pontresina from here.

At Celerina we caught a train back to St Moritz, then caught a train to Pontresina for an encore lunch at the Station Hotel Restaurant. The trains didn’t connect well; we had a 30 minute wait at the St Moritz station, but the good food made it worth the effort (46 CHF, two pizzas, weissbier, and gluhwein).

We returned to Samedan via train, packed up our belongings and caught a train to Scuol.

Some photos from our time in the Upper Engadine:

It took just over an hour to reach Scuol, our Lower Engadine base for the next five nights. I had a photo and the name of the apartment we’d booked, but no address, no map, no directions, nada. A woman in the tourist office tried to help and gave us a town map, but as we dragged our luggage through the streets of Scoul it quickly became apparent that we had no clue.

A kind couple stopped to help and a strange conversation followed, they spoke German, we spoke English, they pointed, we nodded. We set out again, but a few minutes later, the couple waved us down from across the street and pointed in a different direction than we were headed. By now we were completely confused. They eventually rejoined us and took us under their wings, seemingly determined to help the clueless tourists find their elusive apartment.

As the four of us trudged through town, a car pulled over and a German confab ensued between the driver and the couple. As luck would have it, the driver was the owner of our apartment – she loaded us into her car, we profusely thanked the couple, and we were zipped up a very steep hill to the apartment.

We loved this place. It’s listed on e-domizil, but doesn’t accept online bookings, so I’d booked directly with the owner Verena Erni, who seemed genuinely surprised that we were coming from Australia and wanted to stay in Scuol. It was a frustrating process, my e-mails to her bounced back repeatedly, but we eventually connected. She promised us the apartment with no deposit, no contract, advising we could pay in cash upon arrival. This made me a little nervous, but it worked out perfectly. The total cost was 400 CHF for five nights, 80 CHF per night, which we thought was extremely good value.

The apartment is located on the bottom level of a three story house occupied by Verena and her family. We found it roomy, spotless, comfy, and once again, over-warm. The internet was fast, free and flawless, the kitchen perfectly set up for self-catering and the views fabulous. The house is situated at the top of a very steep hill, which is a definite challenge when walking up from the center of town, but an easy walk from the train station via a field near the Motta Naluns cable car station.

After getting settled we walked back to the train station to get our bearings, then in the opposite direction to the town center for provisions at the Coop. A little wine bar caught our attention on the return, so we popped in for drinks. We were greeted warmly in Italian; we returned the greeting, followed with a ‘hello’ and we were off to the races. Little did we know that Mund Art would become our favorite Scoul establishment (two beers, two mugs of white gluhwein, shared slice of chocolate cake, dinner of champions, friendly service – 34 CHF).

Afterwards, we slowly climbed the mountain back to our apartment in the dark and bitter cold. Whew.

To be continued...
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 01:28 AM
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This has been a great read, esp as I'm sitting in the panorama car on the Bernina Express route. We just passed Samedan. Tons of snow and lots of xc skiers out. A big hello from the Engadine!
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 01:31 AM
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Back at ya WeisserTee, have fun!
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 04:21 AM
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 06:11 AM
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So how are the beds at this place? I love a soft, comfy bed!
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 08:30 AM
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That place in Scuol looks excellent! Very good value, too, indeed.

Weisser Tee - hi to you, and I'm green of envy. Enjoy!
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 08:32 AM
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Oh - and great pics also. Not much snow back then in the Engadine, but now they're having more than enough.
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 08:51 AM
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yes, lovely pics, melnq8. and a lovely apartment. i know what you mean about the heat - I regularly have to turn radiators down or even off, even in the winter.

looking forward to more...
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 01:33 PM
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Thank guys.

baglady -

The bed in the Scuol apartment was considerably more comfortable than the rock in Samedan. Easier to get in and out of too.
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 03:01 PM
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I think this is a great trip report!! Full of details and the pictures just add to this. I am eagerly awaiting more...
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 04:01 PM
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Thank you willowjane, I'm writing as fast as I can!
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 04:17 PM
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December 12: The joy of sgraffito

Up early again (are you seeing a pattern here?), we caught the train to Guarda, planning to walk from there to Ardez. Guarda is situated high above the valley, and thankfully, a small post bus was waiting at the station as it’d have probably taken us an hour to walk up to town. I fell in love with this beautifully preserved village the minute I stepped off the bus; the massive arched doorways, the sgraffito decorated houses, the colorful shutters and window boxes, the surrounding snow covered mountains, my kind of place.

We found three walking options to Ardez, and naturally, Bill wanted to take the steep one (~four miles). Once again we were saved by our Yak Trax; there was a lot of ice on the trail. The day was brilliant and cold, the views gorgeous.

Ardez is yet another historic wonder; we wandered the laneways, admired the beautifully decorated houses and unsuccessfully sought out lunch (the only café we found that wasn’t completely shuttered was closed between 11-2, go figure). We saw very few people and had to wonder if anyone actually lives here. Ardez is on the train line, but is ‘stop on demand’; had a kid not pushed the magic button on our behalf, our train would have sailed on by. Danke kid.

By the time we returned to Scuol we’d been walking for 3.5 hours. We were hungry, but once again we were caught out by the 2 pm kitchen closures. We’d noticed a kebab kiosk near the train station earlier, so we decided to investigate; it was open, woo-hoo! We had a late lunch of kebabs, beer and gluhwein. My falafel was served on an impossibly large hunk of bread (28CHF with drinks, good, fast and OPEN).

We’d had incredible weather thus far, bright blue skies, cold crisp days; but not a single flake of fresh snow. The Motta Naluns cable car was set to open on December 14; they were feverishly making the white stuff.

Back to the apartment to relax and plot our course for the next day.

To be continued...
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 05:37 PM
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Enjoying the trip report. Thanks for sharing.
We were in Switzerland in September, loved it.

Yes Perth has had a very hot summer, in fact still is.
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 07:45 PM
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Certainly enjoying all of this.

We are sitting here looking at your photos and the maps of the areas and wondering when we will get a chance to visit.
Had never heard of yak trax - they seem very simple and something we will look into if and when we head off somewhere we want to walk in icy conditions.
We wanted to walk when we were had a long weekend in Grindelwald in March last year but did not have hiking boots or anything like this - next time we will be prepared.

That weather would be a dream here today - it is 44C outside at the moment!

Thank you.
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Old Feb 1st, 2014, 09:03 PM
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Good report, Mel.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2014, 12:22 AM
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Thank you! Nice to see the Aussies over here in Europe.

<it is 44C outside at the moment!>

Oh barf! We've had a comfortable weekend here, but that's about to change, plenty of grossness predicted for the upcoming week. I hope you get a break from the heat soon love_.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2014, 01:30 AM
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Guarda and Ardez, two of my favourites. This hotel-restaurant was not open?
Ah, travel in low season ...
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