October visit to Switzerland

Mar 15th, 2019, 01:11 PM
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October visit to Switzerland

My previous thread about train passes - New benefits for Swiss Half Fare Card holders? has evolved into a detailed discussion about specific villages and walking opportunities, so thought I'd start a new thread.

Current itinerary -

Arrive Zurich

Adelboden - five nights (apartment booked) -

Our plan here is mostly walking - and as we'll be there while the cable cars are still operating there seems plenty to fill our time - specific walk suggestions appreciated

Undecided spot in Altesch area - five nights

Our plan here is to purchase a two day walking pass, explore the area walks, spend a day in Brig's Old Town, and I'd really like to check out this bridge, although I have yet to work out the logistics:


Flims - five nights (apartment booked) -

Our plan here is to explore some walks we weren't able to access when we visited in December, including Bargas, as well as explore the walking opportunities and bergrestaurants above Flims - specific walk suggestions appreciated.

Soglio - three nights (hotel booked) - we're here to walk, soak up the scenery and try out the chestnut specialities - we'll be there during the chestnut festival, this year's program hasn't been published yet - specific walk suggestions appreciated.

Scuol or Sils - five nights - still thinking

Area near Zurich (considering Rapperwill at the moment) - two nights

The plan is to visit Läderach in Bilten the day after we arrive in Rapperswil - I'd hoped to do it en route from Scuol (or Sils), but there are no English tours on that day (Thursday). My understanding is that we'll need to backtrack via train and bus to Bilten, which is a ~47 minute journey. That will leave us two partial days to explore Rapperswil - suggestions on how to spend that time greatly appreciated.

From Rapperswil we'll take a train to the Zurich airport (just under an hour).

Last edited by Melnq8; Mar 15th, 2019 at 01:14 PM.
Melnq8 is offline  
Mar 15th, 2019, 01:48 PM
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Mel, for Adelboden you may want to read my trip report from 2003:

Ingo's trip report Black Forest, Strasbourg and Bernese Oberland

I don't think that much has changed.

For Soglio here a couple of descriptions of hikes from my vanished Virtualtourist.com page on Soglio/Bregaglia valley:

One highly recommended hike is the so called "Sentiero Panoramico" - the name says it all: Panoramic views (almost) all the time. The trail starts up on the Maloja pass (1815 m), zig-zags down to Casaccia (1458 m), from there follows the northern (right) side of the valley. Casaccia is actually a good starting point, from there it takes about 5 to 6 hours to Soglio, where the trail ends. There is only one simple restaurant (snack place) along the way, in Durbegia after 2/3 of the hike. Highlights are the views shortly after passing the hamlet Roticcio (Vicosoprano below on the valley floor and the massive peaks on the other side of the valley with the dam of Albigna lake) and finally the arrival in Soglio.

"Sentiero Storico"
This hiking trail runs mostly along the valley floor, only the ascent to Soglio is quite exhausting. As the name indicates it is themed "history" - you walk/hike from one historic place to the next one. You may want to start in Vicosoprano (see separate tip), from there walk on either side of the river (northern/right recommended for views) to Borgonovo where you should visit the church San Giorgio (see separate tip).
Cross the river and walk on the right side of the river to Stampa, maybe visit the museum Ciäsa Granda (see separate tip), continue to Coltura where Palazzo Castelmur is recommended to see (see separate tip). You also pass the church San Pietro (see separate tip) right before the steep ascent to Soglio starts.
Seriously, if you plan to visit one or the other sight or want to explore the picturesque villages then you must split this hike into two parts/days. I personally did the Stampa - Soglio portion in one day and didn't even have enough time to do justice to Soglio.
If you want to save Soglio for another day you can turn left before the ascent to that village begins and cross the river to Promontogno and finish the hike there (bus stop).

"Soglio - Castasegna / Chestnut forest"
An easy hike, more a walk, is the trail from Soglio down to Castasegna. It is very popular as it takes you through the famous chestnut forest, said to be the largest in Europe, particularly beautiful in late fall when the chestnuts (called marroni here) are harvested and roasted in the small huts.
First follow the curvy road down from Soglio for a few minutes but don't miss the trail start on the right side (signposted). The trail starts rather flat and leads to a nice waterfall first, then enters the chestnut forest and meanders through it down to Castasegna. The views of the peaks vis-a-vis are gorgeous, later the views of the picturesque village Castasegna are very beautiful, too.

From the same source on Rapperswil:

"Old Town"
Rapperswil has a wonderfully preserved old town. Most houses go back to medieval times, details from that era like portals, reveals and such are still to see, while facades were reconstructed in recent centuries. It's fun to walk along cobbled, narrow alleys (see off the beaten path tip for Hintergasse), do some window shopping, drop into a little cafe or shop, watch the other people ...
Sooner or later you'll pass Hauptmarkt, the main square with a fountain and several cafes/restaurants, where a flight of steps leads up to the castle hill and catholic parish church, and you'll end up at the beautiful lake promenade with even more cafes and restaurants.

On top of the hill, above Rapperswil's old town and with gorgeous views of the lake and the Alps, is the castle. It was erected at the end of the 12th century and reconstructed after 1350. Nowadays the walls are mostly medieval, but the interior is mostly 19th century. The castle is only accessible with special guided city tours, but the part that is home of the Polish museum is to see during regular opening hours. The courtyard is covered by an odd, but interesting transparent construction.
The Polish museum was founded 1870, closed in 1927 when the collections returned to Warszawa where they were destroyed in WWII. Since 1975 there is another Polish museum in the castle, carried by a Polish expat association. It is open daily 13 - 17 h in summer.

The chapel "Of Our Lady" just north of the catholic parish church is really interesting. It goes back to an ossuary from the middle of the 13th century, which is still preserved on the ground floor. On top of the ossuary a chapel was erected in the late 15th century. At first a flight of steps inside led up to the chapel, nowadays the access is from outside.
On the southern facade, right above the flight of steps, is a crucifixion group (copy, the original from 1490 in the parish church), in combination with secco paintings from the 17th century depicting Maria and Maria Magdalena. The interior is Neo-Gothic, from the early 20th century (mostly 1917), with a few Art Nouveau elements. On pic 4 you see a Gothic painting, original part of an altar in the old parish church, one of the few older works of art in the chapel.
Open during the day.

"Capuchin monastery"
The end of the peninsula is occupied by the Capuchin monastery, built about 400 years ago. The church was renovated in the 1960s and appears quite bare nowadays (pic 3). In the front corner right is the Antonius grotto, where you can place a written wish or prayer (pic 4).
In 1992 the chapter of the German-Swiss Capuchins assigned the Capuchins in Rapperswil some new missions: Offering accommodation for anyone seeking this, trying out new forms of prayer and better integration into society. From what I saw the monastery is indeed quite open to anyone, it was busy, people went in and out, and nobody was shy of communicating.

"Rose gardens"
Rapperswil is also named "city of roses", which is a bit exaggerating, I'd say. They do have some nice rose gardens, but nothing overly spectacular. It's probably more history related as two roses are depicted in the coat-of-arms of Rapperswil.
I visited the two small-ish rose gardens at the foot of Schlossberg hill, close to the Capuchin monastery. One of them was an orchard once before it was turned into a rose garden in 1973. Roses are apparently the preferred flower in Rapperswil as you find them all over town, in private gardens as well as on the lake promenade and on top of Schlossberg hill in public places.
One rose garden I missed - unfortunately not enough time - is the smelling rose garden for blind people. It was created on the 'roof' of the underground parking lot at Obere Bahnhofstrasse in 1984. Due to the heated parking lot in winter this garden hardly ever experiences freezing temps in the soil, so the roses bloom very early in spring.

"Wooden boardwalk"
The first bridge-like crossing of Lake Zürich between Rapperswil and Horgen probably goes back 3500 years. The earliest boardwalk we have written evidence of was commissioned 1358-60 by the Hapsburg Duke Rudolf IV., founder of the University in Vienna, who also commissioned the construction of the Gothic cathedral St. Stephan there.
Anyway, the Gothic chapel (from 1551, frescoes!) built at this boardwalk is preserved, while the wooden boardwalk was demolished when the dam with railroad was opened 1878.
In 2001 another 841 m long boardwalk was opened, which allows a pleasant stroll (views!) from Rapperswill to the chapel and farther to the opposite bank of the lake, away from the busy road on the dam.

Another good idea is a lake cruise. Not as scenic as on Lake Lucerne, but still nice. You will see a lot of beautiful, fancy houses on the "Gold Coast" between Rapperswil and Zürich, the Alps in the East (Glärnisch) if the weather co-operates, and the view of Zürich's old town is also beautiful. Take the train back, much faster. Buy a ZVV day ticket for the respective zones, covers boat and train.
Ingo is offline  
Mar 15th, 2019, 09:34 PM
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Ingo, can you clarify something about the Bregaglia hikes?
I was assuming that the walk from Soglio, sitting high above the valley, TO Vicosoprano, would be the easier route for us wanting a shortened version without much ascent (the bus ride up is incredibly steep, as you know). So I was surprised on the Hikr.org website to see it marked as a T2 trail Soglio - Vicosoprano [hikr.org]
whereas the other direction (FROM Vicosoprano) is T1 (easy). 400 m gain it seems.

So, I guess I misjudged the elevation of Vicosoprano.... would you recommend starting in Vicosoprano or Soglio given we don’t want steep ascents or hikes more than 4 hours?

Sorry for butting in Mel, but might help you, too.

Adelaidean is offline  
Mar 15th, 2019, 10:20 PM
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For what little it’s worth, I hiked (walked) from Soglio to Castesegna on the path Ingo mentioned (and on his recommendation – thanks again!), and then through Bondo to Promontogno, from which I took a bus. Beautiful!!! There were a few very gentle uphill slopes on the path from Castesegna to Promontogno, but not much. I know – I had a serious thigh injury at the time, and while I could manage downhill reasonably easily, I could only manage very slight uphill inclines.
kja is offline  
Mar 15th, 2019, 10:41 PM
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kja, I thought by being in the forest, there were minimal mountain views? Your take on this?
We considered this walk last time, still an option

Ingo, I see on another post a recommendation to start at Röivan, for views and less ascent, but then it seems a much longer walk.

Last edited by Adelaidean; Mar 15th, 2019 at 10:57 PM.
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Mar 16th, 2019, 12:03 AM
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And Mel, I enjoyed this blog with posts about chestnut harvesting in Bregaglia among other lovely entries.

Adelaidean is offline  
Mar 16th, 2019, 01:27 AM
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kja - that is one wonderful hike you did! If someone has enough time it is highly recommended to continue from Castasegna to Bondo and Promontogno. Bondo, btw, has a nice church with medieval frescoes ;-) The little village was hit very hard by floods/landslides last year (or so?) though. I am sure damaged buildings are still visible.

Adelaidean - Soglio and Vicosoprano are roughly at the same elevation. The hike Soglio - Vicosoprano that you saw marked as T2 is on Via Panoramica (Panoramic Trail) - meaning it leads you high up along the mountain slopes (max. 1500 m) before it descends to Vicosoprano. The right after Soglio is quite steep. T2 is totally justified. The other hike that you saw marked as T1 is most likely on Sentiero Storico (Historic Trail). It goes rather flat along the valley before it has a steep ascent briefly before Soglio - 200 m, I'd think. It was actually not that bad and totally worth the effort. As for views I actually liked that Sentiero Storic even better because it runs through open landscape (mostly) and cute villages/hamlets. The Via Panoramica runs most of the time through the woods with very limited views. Every once in a while you get to a viewpoint, though, and from those the views are breathtaking (above Soglio, around Durbegia and from Roticcio e.g. - the latter being beyond Vicosoprano in direction Casaccia, though.)

If you want to hike the Via Panoramic you best start in Röivan (or Zocca) and head to Soglio. You would miss Vicosoprano but enjoy the views from above (Roticcio). The ascent is not that steep (rather long, and you start at roughly 1250 m so it is only 250 m ascent to the highest point) and the hike is not that much longer than from Vicosoprano (where you start at 1067 m). For a shorter hike and a bit more culture along the way I recommend to choose the Sentiero Storico from Vicosoprano to Soglio (or, if you prefer descent over ascent, the opposite direction.)

The walk through the chestnut forest offers plenty of fantastic views. It is rather a grove (if that makes sense) than a forest - chestnut trees need much light, so stand separately.

View from the chestnut grove between Soglio and Castasegna.

Last edited by Ingo; Mar 16th, 2019 at 01:35 AM.
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Mar 16th, 2019, 03:30 AM
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Great info, and lovely photo, thank you, Ingo.
Happy to have so many excellent choices. Your extra detail very helpful.
Adelaidean is offline  
Mar 16th, 2019, 04:58 AM
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Wow, thanks Ingo and kja, great info. I've cut and pasted to my notes.

Not sure I'll be up to some of those exhausting steep accents, but sometimes I surprise myself.
Melnq8 is offline  
Mar 16th, 2019, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Adelaidean View Post
kja, I thought by being in the forest, there were minimal mountain views? Your take on this?
As Ingo already noted, it's more of a grove than a forest, and it's only part of the path. I found the entire walk to be quite scenic.

Originally Posted by Ingo View Post
kja - that is one wonderful hike you did! ... Bondo, btw, has a nice church with medieval frescoes ;-) The little village was hit very hard by floods/landslides last year (or so?) though. .
It was a perfect walk for me that day! I remember the sweet little church in Bondo, even though it was closed at the time. I'm sorry to hear the people are having to recover from floods and landslides.
kja is offline  
Mar 20th, 2019, 05:20 AM
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Booked a place in Grengiols as a base for exploring Altesch and Brig. Hills be damned.
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