Back from Switzerland - we LOVED it !

Sep 6th, 2008, 12:58 PM
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Back from Switzerland - we LOVED it !

More than a month ago we returned from a 2-weeks trip to Switzerland. First, I need to thank to all that helped me plan the trip: Ingo, swandav, schuler, LLindaC, bob_brown, TuckH, enzian, ira, gruezi, and so many others. It was a fantastic trip! Thank you!

Things have been pretty hectic since we got back, so this will not be a long trip report, but a short account of our adventures. Hopefully it will help others on their first trip to Switzerland.

We flew Continental to Zurich – I checked the flight status the day before the flight (a 2-3-2 configuration), it was going to be a full one. When we got at the airport, we were told the flight was delayed for about an hour. And then we were told that our seats will be different, because a different configuration plane will take us to Zurich. We ended up with the same seats, but when we got on the plane, we noticed it was a smaller one (a 3-3 configuration). Nobody understood how we all fit on a smaller plane – unless a large number of cancellations happened in the last 24 hours. In any case, this was by far the most uncomfortable flight to Europe ever. There was absolutely no leg room (and I am not a tall person) – couldn’t wait to land.

When we did, we got our rental car from Avis and we were on our way to Celerina. We tried to get a GPS, too but because we were not to return the car back in Zurich, we were told that was not possible. We were a little sad about this in the beginning, but we never actually needed the GPS.

The drive to Celerina was ok – we followed the signs, which took us over the Julier Pass. I know, I know Ingo, you warned us about the traffic there, but tired and without the GPS we did not try a different route. You were right, there was a lot of slow traffic due to the road construction, but eventually we made it to Celerina.

Our room at hotel Chesa Rosatsch was great. It was a duplex room, with a nice terrace a gorgeous view. It had a fridge, cable TV, double sink bathroom, an extra bed in the living room, and even TV sound piped in the bathroom. All Swiss hotel we stayed in had the softest sheets we ever had in a hotel, soft pillows, comfortable beds. This one was no exception. We had a late lunch – early dinner in the hotel’s casual restaurant (there was gourmet one, too) and went to bed.

Woke up the following day, ready to start exploring.
xyz99 is offline  
Sep 6th, 2008, 03:06 PM
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We are not big hikers, but we like fairly flat walks – Switzerland has tons of those. We also love big, expansive views, so any mountain top where we could get by funicular, cable car, gondola or any other transportation mean that does not require hours of hiking was for us. For staying more than 2 nights, Engadine hotels offer a card that covers any train, bus, cable transportation in the area for the duration of the stay. That was a great saving, and we used it a lot.

Day 1 – after the long drive the day before, we decided not to drive too much, so after a nice breakfast we went to Piz Nair. Unfortunately, clouds got in, it started to rain, so we did not make it the top – only to the second station. There was no view from there because of the fog, so we went back to St.Moritz – had a very good lunch at Chesa Veglia. Expensive, but very good. We found out soon that it was not expensive, those are the Swiss prices

We walked around the lake a little, then in the afternoon went back home. Had dinner at the hotel’s gourmet restaurant, and for the first time in my life I had pike (some fish) – which I thought had a weird smell / taste. It was fresh, don’t get me wrong, and not bad, just not my favorite fish. Well, I’m happy I tried it, but once was enough. DH’s beef dish was very good. Actually, in all 2 weeks in Switzerland we never had a bad meal. We did not take the half board in any of the hotels we stayed in – generally, this includes for dinner 3 courses, too much for us. We generally only have the main course, and we share either an appetizer or a dessert, very rarely both. Plus, we enjoy trying different restaurants, so that’s what we did. We had dinner at least once in the hotel’s restaurant, and it was always good, so I can recommend all of them.
xyz99 is offline  
Sep 6th, 2008, 03:16 PM
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I am glad you had a great trip.
If I helped you even one tiny dribble, that is even better.
bob_brown is offline  
Sep 6th, 2008, 03:54 PM
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bob, you helped a lot more than "one tiny dribble". This trip exceeded all my expectations (and they were high, after all I had read here about Switzerland).

I'm tempted to say it was the best trip of our lives, but then I remember our honeymoon trip to Italy, hmmm, hard to pick one. But after that one, Switzerland was definitely the next best. Now I know why everybody is so enthusiastic about Switzerland
xyz99 is offline  
Sep 6th, 2008, 03:56 PM
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Day 2 – it was nice and sunny. Had another good breakfast, with fresh bread, croissants, home-made jams, several kinds of fruit juices, hams, cheese, fresh fruits….enough to feed a small army; then on our way to Diavolezza. The drive was very scenic, we stopped several times for pictures and saw (from a distance) what we were going to soon see very close. Wow! Those white-capped mountains, glaciers (another first in our lives) – that was quite a view. We took the cable car up, and even though we had seen it from afar, we were not prepared for the view. Absolutely fantastic! It was sunny, warm, and we were surrounded by snow and glaciers. We could not get enough of it, so we spent some time walking around, taking tons of pictures and decided to have lunch there. We sat outside, in the sun, soaking more of the same view. I had rabbit, hunter style, with polenta – which was absolutely delicious, and DH had pasta (very good, he said).

Before we left, somebody here told me that Diavolezza was not absolutely a must, that we could have a ‘free’ view of it just by driving. IMHO, that is not so. The close and personal view is amazing, and I’m so glad we went. And because of the card from the hotel, it was free, too.

One interesting sight from the cable car to Diavolezza – Lago Bianco (the White Lake, running all the way to the Adriatic Sea), and Lej Nair (the Black Lake, running to the Black Sea). They are right next to each other, the color difference is astonishing.

From Diavolezza, we decided to hike from Ospizio Bernina to Alp Grum, along the Lago Bianco. The hike is actually a flat walk, and the path goes right between the lake and wonderful wildflowers. Ohhh, the Swiss wildflowers – they are everywhere, they are beautiful and smell heavenly. We were there at the end of July, early August, a little bit after the wildflower season (I thought) but it was just beautiful. We did not make it all the way to Alp Grum, black clouds were gathering again, so we had to turn around, but it was a very pleasant walk.

Back to Celerina, and dinner at Arturo – just a few minutes from our hotel, and a wonderful meal (steak and beef goulash, yum – with a few glasses of local wine, of course)
xyz99 is offline  
Sep 6th, 2008, 07:18 PM
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Day 3 – It rained all night, but we woke up to a glorious morning. Enjoyed the breakfast and on our way to Guarda. The drive was nice, with different scenery than the day before. Driving to Diavalozza we were between high mountains, on a deep curvy road. Driving to Guarda, we were at the bottom of a large green valley, with the mountains not quite in the distance, but not in our face. Guarda is a wonderful mountain village, with a parking lot big enough for all its visitors. We walked around, took another million pictures (came back with maybe more than 1000 pictures from this trip) and walked towards Ardez. Did not get all the way there, but the walk was very nice. It was getting late and we were getting hungry, so we turned around and had lunch at Hotel Meissner in Guarda. What a beautiful location…and the food was great. Had the gorgonzola gnocchi and of course, the nut cake. Not sure who on this board recommended it, it was absolutely delicious.

It was still early, so instead of going directly home, we decided to stop and take the funicular to Muottas Muragl. Nice ride up and the view, again – wow! Not a lot of people up there, so we had it all for ourselves. Somehow, it made me think of Scotland’s highlands – same colors, and same vast, not populated land. The wildflowers’ smell was intoxicating, so we just took it easy, enjoyed ourselves, hiked/walked some, it was so peaceful. The lakes below, the mountains up, some haws or eagles flying above, and a glider not too far away…that was an amazing place. We stayed until sunset, then went back home.

We got a bottle of wine from the hotel’s restaurant, bought bread, cheese and an assortment of ham and salami from the coop, and had a fantastic dinner on the terrace. It was our last night in the Engadine area. 3 full days in the area was fine, but one can definitely spend a lot more time there. We did not have time to rent a bike, or a glider ride but maybe someday when we’ll go back, we will.

Celerina was a good location, small, quiet, with a stream running through (and an interesting ruined church nearby, where we witnessed a wonderful rainbow on our second night). We were happy we had a car in Engadine, we loved the flexibility it offered.
xyz99 is offline  
Nov 9th, 2008, 09:47 AM
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xyz99, please continue your trip report -- it's very interesting and informative.
Samsaf is offline  
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