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A Winter Wander – Engadine and Berner Oberland

A Winter Wander – Engadine and Berner Oberland

Old May 12th, 2014, 08:45 AM
Join Date: Jan 2008
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Hi Melnq8,

As per our post above, we're finally getting around to firming up plans for our month-long travels to the Alps, flying into Munich, then traveling to eastern Austria, including Salzburg and region, across the Grossglockner, through a bit of the Dolomites, and finally Switzerland. We've enjoyed re-reading your detailed TR, and will probably start a thread with questions. However, we'd appreciate your insight into one particular area which has us perplexed. We're considering taking the Bernina Express as a day trip, wondering if the St. Moritz to Poschiavo goes through dramatic scenery. We'll be driving through mountain passes. At times, the trains travel very near parallel to the highway routes. We're wondering if the area we mentioned above-St. Moritz to Poschiavo-would be worth doing the train. Or would you have another suggestion? We value your opinions.

And, on a completely different and mundane subject, did you find any/many convenient laundry facilities? Do smaller B & B's/ inns have such? When we did our trip to a bit of AUS and NZ, we planned for 12 days' worth of clothes, and were able to do "Overnight" laundry (with washer and dryer) fairly efficiently. Hate to waste precious time with that. But OTOH, we want to pack lightly. We just returned from 10 days in NY, and were easily able to do carry-ons, but then we didn't have to pack layers or hiking shoes. Would appreciate your thoughts. Thenks, Melnq8! You're always so helpful!
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Old May 12th, 2014, 04:21 PM
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Hi tomarkot -

I found the St. Moritz to Poschiavo section lovely, but honestly, after so many visits to the Berner Oberland, I found the entire Upper Engadine area a bit lacking in the drama department. Don't get me wrong, it's beautiful, but, the peaks are more subtle, less in-your-face and majestic, if you will. The region has many lakes and wide valleys, so the rise to the mountains is less startling.

Had I never been to the BO, I'd have no doubt been gobsmacked, but, after many trips to Switzerland, I'm a wee bit jaded.

The routes that most impressed me on this particular trip were the bus rides to Samnaun and Soglio.

For what it's worth, an excerpt from the Bernina Pass website:

The Bernina Line between St. Moritz and Tirano has UNESCO World Heritage status. This section of track was conceived over 100 years ago as a tourist line with many viewpoints and as few tunnels as possible, blending in perfect harmony with the rugged mountain landscape through which it passes. Following a serpentine course and without the aid of a rack-and-pinion system, the train masters gradients of up to 7%. The highest point, the Ospizio Bernina at 2,253 metres above sea level, lends the Bernina Line its title of “highest railway line over the Alps”. The 13 tunnels and 52 bridges all contribute to this extraordinarily spectacular railway journey, which attracts guests from near and far.


Laundry facilities...problematic. They can be hard to come by and quite expensive. Our apartment in Samaden had a laundry room in the basement, but even it was a pain. We were given a card that had some CHF loaded onto it, but not enough to do a full wash/dry. We had no clue (or instructions) on how to reload the card and had a heck of a time figuring out how to use what we did have...the whole process was very frustrating and compounded by the language barrier. Apartments often have a sign in sheet, you need to reserve a time to do your laundry. Our apartment was deserted at the time, so not an issue, but a potential problem if busy and short on time.

In the past, we've used a wash and fold facility in Zermatt (very expensive) an old washer/dryer behind a hotel in Wengen (took four hours to do two loads, and as of December the old relics were still there), and the best, a very familiar and easy to operate Laundromat in Lauterbrunnen.

Some accommodation provides laundry service similar to what you'd find in a US hotel, but be prepared to pay mega francs. Cities should be much easier, but some of the villages present a real challenge, and we're usually in the villages.

Doing laundry in Switzerland is the complete opposite of NZ, I'm afraid.
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Old May 12th, 2014, 07:32 PM
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Hi again Melnq8, thanks so much for your prompt and forthright response. You mentioned early on in your TR that planning your trip to Switzerland was difficult. We're finding the same thing.

We've been to Salzburg and surrounding areas of Austria in the past, but the weather was so rainy and foggy that we couldn't appreciate it, and we've been wanting to return. And we've been to Switzerland a couple of times, but never to the BO. It's difficult to narrow our itinerary. It's so tempting to dip down to the lake region of Italy, but we're resisting it. We like to have flexibility in our travels, and are trying to decide where we might be able to go without reservations. If/when we run into bad weather, we like to have a Plan B bail-out. We're going to check into the towns of Samnaum & Soglio.

And your info on the laundry situation will help our planning.
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Old May 12th, 2014, 08:34 PM
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I feel your pain tomarkot. Good luck with your planning.
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Old May 13th, 2014, 01:59 AM
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Doing laundry in Switzerland is the complete opposite of NZ, I'm afraid.>>

agreed. I've never been to a place which had better laundry facilities for travellers, except, perhaps, OZ. other places please note.
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Old May 13th, 2014, 04:14 PM
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Melnq8, thanks for your empathy. We talked about our planning today, and decided that there's so much beauty around that we can't go wrong. Also, that the thing that's impossible to plan or control is the weather. So we've further refined our itinerary and hopefully can just hang loose and go with the flow. I know we'll have more questions as we do more planning.

I appreciate both you and annhig for the info regarding the laundry facilities. We'll just go back to our 26 inchers. With a car, we just use those as our "clothing chests" anyway, taking only what we need into the hotel in our small personal bag. Thanks again for your input.
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Old Aug 11th, 2014, 10:03 AM
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Hi again, Melnq8. After a lull in our communication, we thought we'd have better luck contacting you on this thread. Not sure if we'd catch you on ours: "Input on the Alps".

We re-read your TR, and picked up a few more tips. Never had rosti or raclette in Switzerland; only remember fondue and schnitzel. Seems pretty difficult to enjoy that cuisine and avoid weight gain!!! Oh well, When in Rome. . .." Like you, this will be our first visit to the BO. After seeing how many towns we're visiting that seem to be still crowded on the dates we're there, we decided to book almost all our lodging, having just a bit of flexibility. We couldn't resist touching a bit of the lakes region around Lugano/Locarno, having pleasant memories of the more Mediterraean climate there. From that area to Brig, we have generous cancellation privileges. We have two nights in Brig, thinking that if the forecast seems somewhat favorable for a couple of days (although we know that's a gamble!) we may do a day trip to Zermatt. If not, we'll go for another night around Lago Maggiore.

We agree with your assessment of the valuable info provided by Ingo. It is really a help to have info from others. But we have to say that, like you, we feel that this has been one of our most difficult trips to plan. But the good news is that we're about finished with that and can now concentrate on other final prep issues.

Melnq8, thanks again for all of your help! We're wondering what your more recent travel adventures have been or what you have on the horizon.
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Old Aug 11th, 2014, 04:40 PM
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Hi again tomarkot -

I'm glad to hear your plans are coming together and I hope you have a wonderful trip. Please post a TR upon your return.

This wasn't our first visit to the BO, we've been many times. We love the area, but frankly, like Zermatt, the crowds have put me off a bit. We're hoping to return to the Engadine and Germany this December, but we need to sort out some work issues before we can make firm plans.

Otherwise, we've recently returned from a nine day visit to South Australia, where we explored the Coonawarra wine region and the Limestone Coast. I'm working on the TR.

I'm off to the SI of NZ later this month for a two week visit. I'll be meeting up with my brother, who will be flying in from the US. This time we're concentrating on the top of the South Island, which will all be new for him.
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Old Aug 12th, 2014, 06:46 AM
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Hi Melnq, happy to receive your response. We haven't been to the areas of Australia you describe, but being such a large country, we returned home knowing that we only scratched the surface. Have fun in the SI; meeting up with your brother should make it more special. We know your love for NZ anyway. You mentioned having visited one of the wine regions of OZ. Normally favoring red wines, we were really impressed with the sauvignon blancs in the SI. We loved our visit to the beautiful Rippon Winery near Wanaka.

You mention the crowds in the BO and Zermatt. It does seem that in reading peoples' travel plans, they skip other areas of Switzerland with beautiful mountains, just wanting to head to the BO. We'll hope for the best, as we normally travel to the mountains for some tranquility amidst the beauty. But it seems like that's an unrealistic expectation in the BO. Perhaps we'll experience that in the Engadine. We'll try to give a full report when we return. Hoping for some good weather!

Happy travels to you!
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Old Aug 12th, 2014, 10:17 AM
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Interesting that you mention the SI of NZ. Just a few days ago friends from there visited and now I've got an invitation ... if the flight wasn't that awfully long!

Enjoy your trips, Melnq and tomarkot!
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Old Aug 12th, 2014, 03:52 PM
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Don't let the flight(s) deter you Ingo, NZ is well worth the effort to get there, especially the South Island!
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Old Aug 12th, 2014, 05:51 PM
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Enjoyed your report...have been to those Swiss regions in June a couple times, need to return!
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Old Aug 12th, 2014, 11:28 PM
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Thank you deladeb.
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Old Dec 5th, 2014, 03:36 PM
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Just popping back in to make note of the Graubünden wine recommended by Ingo and Weissertee in preparation for our upcoming return to Scuol. I'll make a point of looking for those particular pinot noir suggestions, thanks again.
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Old Dec 6th, 2014, 12:29 AM
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You're welcome. Have a great time despite the current lack of snow - I'll keep my fingers crossed that they get a good dump of snow until you arrive.
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Old Dec 6th, 2014, 02:34 AM
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Hi Mel,

Just happened upon this wonderful trip report of yours. Although the Swiss prefer the Engadin, I agree with you that the BO wins for dramatic views. Murren is my favorite spot and you brought back some very fond memories.

Have a wonderful trip - lucky you!
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Old Dec 6th, 2014, 02:02 PM
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Thanks gruezi.

Fingers crossed for mucho snow.
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Old Dec 7th, 2014, 09:53 AM
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The Engadine is not on the radar of most first-time foreign visitors to Switzerland and yes the Berner Oberland IMO is the best most awesome place for the first-timer to see in a compact area with easy transportation to the soaring glacier-bound peaks but on a 2nd trip do not neglect the Engadine and St Moritz area (Bernina Pass Railway being in my opinion the most scenic in all of Europe not just Switzerland.

Yet this area is in remote southeast Switzerland along the Italian frontier so does not work easily into some trip itineraries that typically go between France and Switzerland and Germany - but could be a neat way to go between Switzerland and Italy even though it takes longer - a great way to go to Lake Como or Milan by rail from the Engadine.
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