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Switzerland Trip Report - Engadine, Val Bregaglia and Valposchiavo

Switzerland Trip Report - Engadine, Val Bregaglia and Valposchiavo

Sep 19th, 2002, 05:13 AM
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What an incredible, breathtaking, splendid group of photos. I have to agree with jw that the effects you achieved are marvelous -- the sky is so clear it looks like a blue diamond, and the villages and mountains against the sky are stunning. Here are some of my particular favorites:

Guarda, especially the Pension Val Tuoi and the terrace of the Meisser. It feels like I can touch that sky from right here. It looks so crisp and clean and inviting.

Pontresina, especially the main street. I feel like I’m right there! And it looks like I would be very comfortable there -- a great mix of city/village feel. You seem to have captured the spirit of the town.

Scoul sot, again the contrast of striking blue sky and stone buildings is amazing. And the arrangement of the square and buildings looks so cozy and inviting.

Silvaplana from the cable car -- the lakes and the rolling hills look like a model, they are just so perfect!

St. Moritz -- I know I’m not supposed to like the glitzy place, but your photo looks so moody, cloudy, and breathtaking.

Lake Sils in the evening, simply splendid!

Stampa -- the rolling hills with the mountains in the background -- so peaceful and inviting.

Soglio -- I don’t know if the name translates to anything in English, but if it does, it must mean “smile.” I began to smile even before the photo had finished loading!

Promontogno, the old stone bridge with turquoise water and greenery all around.

Hotel Le Prese with the sunny terrace and spectacular lake views. Wow!

Thanks especially for all the photos of hotels & restaurants. I’m going to have a ball doing research on almost every one of them for future trips!

I can’t believe you’re going to post even more -- and more scenery???? This is going to be actually painful!

Thank you for taking the time to post all the pictures and to explain clearly where you were. The photos and your trip report really are a comprehensive (and alluring!!) travel service for the Engadin!

Sep 20th, 2002, 03:11 AM
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S, thanks! Remember, YOU directed me to www.cartogra.com ! It is a very good website, easy to work with. It is a great idea to name your favourites with some comments. I am anxious to know your opinion on “Engadine vacation 2002 – the landscape”. I guess I will be able to complete this album today.

Hopefully all of you find a little time to enjoy the pictures this weekend.

Sep 20th, 2002, 03:19 AM
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Sorry for being ignorant, but do you do a search on cartogra.com and then type "Engadine vacation 2002" to see your photos?? I keep getting an error page after I click "submit". What am I doing wrong? Thanks. I am looking forward to seeing your photos.
Sep 20th, 2002, 05:25 AM
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Hi Joy,

I also had problems finding my albums by searching for albums or photos. You better search for member=german_eagle.

I just finished the landscape-album. I hope you enjoy the photos of the scenery as well as the village's photos!

Have fun!

Sep 20th, 2002, 06:17 AM
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Oh Ingo, this is pretty funny!

I saw your Engadin scenery photos last night & thought your **21** photos were great. I left you a note. This morning, I saw your first post here and realized you added more photos since yesterday, so I went to cartogra and saw **51** photos, and I thought they were great. Then, as I was flipping through them and day-dreaming and mentally planning my already-too-brief visit to the Engadin, I saw there were **54** photos on the album. You must have been posting even while I was browsing! I can’t keep up! (I kept checking back, and I think you finally finished with 65?).

Seriously, though, how can I comment on all of them without commenting on a few individually? These are the ones that struck me particularly.

#1, the train shot between Guarda and Ardez toward Scuol -- the pastures & striking peaks!
Garden of Hotel Piz Buin in Guarda, again just the lushness of the valley and the peaceful village.
Lake St. Moritz looks so peaceful!
View from Muottas Muragl with four lakes!!
Those views from the Sergantini Hut; it’s amazing that one spot can have so many diverse and beautiful views!
View of Sils from the Corvatsch cable car, again the fantastic contrast of green valleys and blue blue lakes.
Fantastic view of Fuorda Surlej, with the lake reflection of three peaks and the clouds.
Val Rosegg -- how did you ever leave it? The sparking creek and moody sky -- I think I would have plunked right down there and absorbed it for a week.
The Montebello curve with the glacier, the swirling clouds, & Piz Bernina.
Lago Blanca -- incredible, with the looming peaks & glacier.
The “lush and serene valley” could be my favorite; it looks so green.
Poschiavo -- nestled in that green valley
Lake Poschiavo, framed perfectly with the cool green waters and the small row boats.
Hotel Fex, with the clouds, mountains, and the deep, deep green around. The rustic log fence & horse-drawn carriages look so cozy.
Hamlet Fex-Crasta, the white chapel and the dark green folling pasture and the single small road leading to it -- could be
Chapel view in Fex Crasta -- the stark white contrasting with the green and the grey clouds.
Val Bregaglia, view up to Soglio -- the green layers of rolling fields alternating with trees, topped with the magnificent peaks.
That stairway to heaven leading up to Soglio -- aptly named!

I can’t give a proper appreciation for how much I like these views; it seems to be too much to take in at one sitting. Be assured I will re-visit the site often and let the views and descriptions seep in. As nice as the sharp-blue-sky photos are, I think I do prefer landscapes with moody, cloudy, changing skies. They seem to be almost living Van Goghs.

In all of the photos, your intimate and detailed knowledge of the trails, valleys, & peaks is incredible! Do you rely on a topo map? Do you have training as a geologist? Your observations really help us never-beens to understand how the area is laid out.

Please help me to understand something, too? In some of the photos, the mountains look very rugged and raw, with peaks (above the tree line) of stone. In other photos, the mountains look green and lush. Is that because of the location (upper vs. lower Engadin), because of your altitude (standing above the tree line vs. standing in a lower valley), or because of both (the lower Engadin is lower altitude)? Please forgive my ignorance; I suspect I could deduce the answer if I really studied your photos and your notes. I’m being lazy.

So, thank you so very much for posting this fantastic visual log. I hope you don’t regret it as the valleys fill with lost tourists!

Sep 20th, 2002, 07:21 AM
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Stop it, you guys... You've got me chomping at the bit to go back there, this is getting to be excruciating!!!!!!!!
Sep 20th, 2002, 07:42 AM
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This is really funny! I read your note and had an idea you would maybe come back later for a visit. That’s why I worked furiously to complete the album. It is indeed a lot of work to choose the right pictures (out of about 400) and put them into any kind of order.

But I see that it was worth the effort! You seemed to enjoy the albums quite much and I hope others will, too. Thanks again for your comments!

The picture of Val Roseg with the sparking creek and the moody sky is one of my favourites, too. I think you can feel the special atmosphere there. Believe me, you must go there in winter! I often found such a mood in the Engadine. And spending the evening in one of those cozy wooden “Stüva” restaurants … magical.

Well, I must admit there is a special sort of light in the Engadine, which the painters (e.g. Segantini) mentioned before. I was lucky enough to find several kinds of weather during my vacation: cloudy, sunny etc. This allowed me to take so many varying photos.

Your question: I am not sure what the reason is. Let me have a look at the photos again. Could you specify which photos you have in mind? In general I can say that the Lower Engadine, Valposchiavo and Val Breagaglia are more lush and green than the Upper Engadine. Altitude might be one of the reasons – the valley floor in the Upper Engadine is at an altitude of about 1700 – 1800 m. But climate might be another reason. It is definitely much colder in the Upper Engadine – especially at night, which is not only caused by the altitude, but also by the special topography.

Of course I rely on topo maps. The Swiss maps are most detailed. But I have visited this area so many times during the past ten years that I can recall a lot from my memory.

Have a nice weekend (with or without the albums)!

Sep 20th, 2002, 10:36 AM
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Hello Ingo!

I’ve spent some time making notes on your photos and looking at my 1:200,000 Hallwag to see if I can understand the differences in terrain. So here’s what I found.

Green Scenes
#1 around Guarda & Ardez
#3 Guarda
#8 around Muottas Muragl (with four lakes, though, could it be anything but green???)
#9 Piz Rosatsch (3123m) above Silvaplana
#10 Val Muragl sides of valley & mountaintops look green
#17 Piz Rosatsch (yet #15 above St Moritz looks gray)
#43 Val Roseg creek (but the same area in photos 40 & 41 looks scraggly)
#48 Valposchiavo & San Carlo
#49 Valley sides look green
Most of the rest of the outside shots 50-65 look green. Fex & Soglio just look lush! In fact, until I looked on the map, I thought they were very close to one another!

Gray/Rock Scenes
#5 the foreground is green but the mountain top above the glacier is bare rock
#11 the peak in the distance again bare rock
#13 Val Muragl - close by looks like moraine? Scraggly grass? In the distance, the peaks are gray
#14 Piz Kesch
#15 above St. Moritz
#23 Val Languard looks like scraggly grass, maybe moraine?
#26 Piz Albana (3100) above Silvaplana again bare rocks at the top
#40 Val Roseg toward Pontresina, even the valley sides look rocky, like moraine?
#41 the same
#47 Alp Gruem (2091m) hillsides look gray & rocky

So, I guess the rocky hillsides are the result of glacier movement, but it still puzzles me that one valley would have the rocky remains and one would be green. I also don’t understand how similar peaks at similar heights could have such different vegetation. I’ve checked my Michelin & my Baedeker (love my Fodors, but it doesn’t have much on geology), and the notes are pretty broad, dealing with all the alps altogether. I do hate to burden you with these questions, so if the answer isn’t obvious to you, don’t sweat it. Actually, I think your note about the altitude and climate of the Lower Engadin, Valposchiavo and Val Breagaglia is right on and answers the gist of my confusion -- those are the areas that just appeared to be lush and really green

I’ve also found the wonderful www.skiengadin.ch site (which I think someone here -- either Andy or xxx -- has recommended, but I never bothered to look at it). They have some great notes on hikes (now I’m familiar with some of the places they name!! Wowwee!!). They also have some great offers for bicycling tours that I’m planning to explore.

But here is a question I am very interested in, although it is almost 12 months premature. I would like to bicycle the valley from Sils up to Scuol (I saw this trip on a travel show here in the US, and it looked absolutely spectacular). But I want to stay in the same hotel every night, locking up the bike where I stop and taking a bus/train back to the same hotel. The rent-a-bike.ch site says this ride is 60 km, so I would only do about 20 km per day, leaving plenty of free time to explore villages enroute and maybe taking some scenic walks (oh yes, and eating lots of cakes!!). That would also leave me plenty of free days to take longer hikes and to explore Fex, Soglio, and Lago di Poschiavo (thanks for opening up the possibilities here). My questions are, do you think this is a workable plan? Is it customary to lock up bicycles overnight, do you think? Do you think I should pick a base outside St. Moritz or maybe Pontresina? The train route Scuol-Pontresina is a straight shot, Scuol-St Moritz has 1 transfer, while Scuol-Sils requires lots of transfers. Anyway, I’d welcome your thoughts on this!

Have a great weekend! Hope to hear from jw tomorrow. My best to all.

Sep 20th, 2002, 01:21 PM
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Thanks for the detailed reply! I am not sure about geology, but it seems that I have an idea. Let me do a little research in my Engadine books. Not sure about free time yet, because I have a tournament with my tennis club this weekend.

I cannot resist to answer your question about cycling/accommodation, though. Bicycling from Sils down to Scuol is in fact great! But I highly recommend to start in Maloja. The route from there along the East side of Lake Sils via the hamlet Isola to Sils is lovely. You should split your trip into three days: Maloja – Pontresina, Pontresina – Zernez, Zernez – Scuol. Not to miss are these villages: Day 1: Sils and Pontresina, day 2: Celerina, Samedan, Zuoz, day 3: Guarda, Ardez, Scuol. IMO the route is about 80 km, not 60. Don’t worry, it is a flat route, with slightly downhill tendency. Only between Lavin and Guarda AND Ardez and Ftan there are bigger ascents.

I don’t know if it is customary to lock up the bike overnight somewhere, but I don’t think this is a problem. As you know, Switzerland is very safe (in case you think of thieves).

Regarding accommodation … I don’t think Scuol – Sils requires many changes. At least it was always comfortable. In my experience I only had either one change in Samedan or two changes in Samedan and St. Moritz.

I know you prefer lakeside accommodation and smaller villages. I don’t dare to recommend St. Moritz, but … you should check the three star Hotel Waldhaus am See. It is probably one of the best three star hotels in Switzerland. It is only a few steps away from the railway station, on a little hill (10 meters or so) overlooking the lake. You saw the pictures of St. Moritz in the villages-album. They were taken right in front of this hotel. They offer affordable packages in summer with a little surcharge for a room w/lake view.

Another option might be Sils. Hotel Waldhaus is probably too expensive. Maybe the two star Chesa Randolina? It is located in Sils-Baselgia, with lake view. www.randolina.ch if I recall correctly. Another option is the three star Hotel Villa Mira Margna, on a little hill above the postbus stop, surrounded by meadows and woods, very quiet with great views (rooms to the south) of Piz da la Margna. www.villamiramargna.ch (I downloaded their screensaver.)

Pontresina and Celerina unfortunately do not have lake views. However, these are beautiful villages. Pontresina definitely more lively with a long mountaineering and sports tradition, Celerina more a farmer’s village and now much frequented by families. In Celerina I recommend Hotel Rosatsch, but it is quite expensive. For Pontresina try Hotel Albris (great food!) or Villa Soldanella (a dependency of four star La Collina).

In general I can say there are so many good hotels in the Engadine that you will hardly fail.

Bye for now

Sep 20th, 2002, 02:50 PM
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You people are driving me crazy! Tomorrow morning I have to attend a workshop to earn SACS hours (Southern Assoc. of Colleges and Schools), so I won't even have my much anticipated two-hour morning coffee at the forum. Maybe I'll print out the most recent letters and take them w/me in my purse to read if the going gets dull. It doesn't look like I'll get another crack at the pictures at cartogra until Sunday morning. That's ok; anticipation is part of the fun. Later, gang. J.
Sep 21st, 2002, 12:18 AM
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Chesa Randalino (or is it Randolina?) is a good hotel, have heard nice things about it from people who've stayed there.

swandav, would it be almost better to use a map at around 1:50'000 or 1:25'000? You'll get lots more detail. I know from hiking in that and other areas of CH, if I had a less detailed map than 25'000, I'd invariably take a wrong route or be on a path that suddenly "disappears". Go with the most detailed map possible - that is, if you're going to do any hiking in the end.

And I think the great Engadine website is www.engadinferien.ch. Perhaps skiengadin is related to it??

N.B. For anyone into geology etc., I've discovered a small, new passion: collecting (small) interesting rocks on hikes from each region, if possible those from the x number of streams you cross. You'd be surprised how great they look on bookshelves etc. Plus, most importantly, they also hold memories...
Sep 21st, 2002, 05:45 AM
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Hello Ingo & xxx,

I’m just amazed that you answered so quickly and with such detail. I’m very happy that you think the bicycle plan is a good idea; I can’t wait to get going on it! I’m aiming for the fall of 2003, maybe late summer, depending on teaching schedule & finances.

Yes, I’m sure you’re right about the 80 km distance; the rent-a-bike site only lists the portion from St. Moritz to Scuol (60 km), so the additional distance from Maloja would round out the distance to 80 km, yes? Anyway, I’ll plan to start there!! I’ll use your trip report and other posts to guide my off-road rambles by cable-car and foot.

As for hotels, I had been planning to stay at the Waldhaus in Sils (I’m not above splurging on myself as long as the indulgences remain cozy, not stuffy & formal), but the SBB website made Sils look like a poor base. Because of your enticing photos & descriptions, I had already found the info on Hotel Waldhaus am See, and that remains a good possibility. I also found the Hotel Fex & Hotel Sonne in Fex and looked at their websites. I plan to spend a wonderful Saturday researching the rest of the hotels you’ve mentioned here, and thanks also to xxx for confirming the good possibilities of Chesa Randalino/Randolina!

xxx, yes, my post was pretty clumsy about the map & terrain. What I meant to say was that I’m using the Hallwag to locate the villages, peaks, & valleys that Ingo notes because I was curious about the differences in the photos (and to follow his trip report). I do realize that one can’t hike with a 1:200,000 map; it doesn’t even give sufficient detail for comfortable driving, in my opinion! As an Army veteran, I know enough to get a good topo map to scramble about on foot; as an English teacher, I **ought** to know enough to write clearly! I’ll get the map after I arrive, as I like to buy maps on the spot.

Yes, I think the skiengadin site is related to the engadinferien site -- that word appears in a logo on the page. I’ll do more research (poor me) to make sure. I think it was you who first posted it here?

jw, I’m so sorry that the turkeys have sort of stolen your Saturday-Switzerland time. Be forewarned, though, you’ll need a lot more then two hours for these two albums on cartogra. Ingo has included many shots of churches and frescoes that I think will leave you weak! I really hope to hear from you soon. You guys remain in my thoughts & prayers.

All my best.

Sep 23rd, 2002, 03:07 AM
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swandav, when I was hiking through the Fex Valley, I stopped by the Hotel Sonne - it was very nice, very chalet style; warm cozy feeling, the smell of melted cheese in the dining room. Didn't look at the rooms, but am sure they reflect the same idea (no wafting cheese, of course). The hotel does sit above Sils Maria - if you don't have a car, assume there are other means to get up and down from it. But if you want an escape, and a base for some of the most scenic hiking in Switzerland, it's a good bet.
Sep 23rd, 2002, 03:09 AM
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Addendum - if you see a picture of the Hotel Sonne, it won't look chalet-style from the outside, but inside it's done in the classic light-brown wood...

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