The Engadine calls us back...again

Feb 10th, 2018, 10:12 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 1,191
Looked up vegetarian capuns, ....gosh, there are lots of variations on this dish. The super foodie bloggers have included quinoa and pumpkin, for example, instead of dried meat. Looking forward to finding out for myself.
Adelaidean is offline  
Feb 11th, 2018, 12:11 PM
  #22  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,755
Lenzerheide – Day 7

The streets of Lenzerheide were still empty, a stark contrast to the activity we’d arrived to on Saturday, the skies grey, snow in the air, -7c.

We took a bus to Lantsch-Lenz (3.60 CHF each return, ½ fare), mistakenly getting off at the wrong stop, but eventually finding what we were looking for, the start of the #206 winterwanderwege near the Biathlon Arena.

Some 2.5 miles later, we were in the village of Lantsch. We explored, stumbling upon the impossibly cute and inviting Antiquitäten Cafe, where we settled in for a lunch of Gertensuppe, apfelstrudel mit vanillesauce and a long chat with the young woman manning the business (39 CHF with drinks).

Once again seduced by the sun - which was completely absent on the walk in - we decided to return the way we had come and walked the track in reverse – me forgetting it would be uphill the entire way, but rewarded with clearer views of the village below and glimpes of the surrounding mountains.

It was snowing like crazy when we caught the bus back to Lenzerheide. We added our names to the apartment’s laundry room roster for the next day, and eventually strolled next door for an encore dinner at Grotto Pizzeria da Elio (two pizzas, and a fabulous Malanser Blauburgunder Pinot Noir – our favorite of the trip – 66 CHF).

Photos here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/melnq8...h/28042470349/

To be continued...
Melnq8 is online now  
Feb 11th, 2018, 12:33 PM
  #23  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,755
Lenzerheide - Day 8 -

Spurred on by the weather guessers and their promises of good weather, we’d reserved the day for the Arosa-Lenzerheide cablecar extravaganza. Fifty-three CHF each (no discount for Half Fare Card), bought us free run of 14 area cable railways and the Rhaetian Railway/post bus combo on the Arosa-Chur-Lenzerheide-Tiefencastel route (Winter Hiking Ticket).

https://lenzerheide.com/en/winter/wi.../winter-hiking

After a quick breakfast of coffee and warm Nusstorte, we slogged some 20 minutes uphill to the Rothorn cable station – having missed the free sports bus with our usual bad timing.

We joined the queue of skiers, wondering as we eyed the bleak skies and shrouded mountains if we were about to make an expensive mistake.

Rothorn 2 was closed, which didn’t bode well for the day ahead, but we threw caution to the wind and boarded the gondola to Rothorn 1; soon deposited at the top of the ski run, where we saw...absolutely nothing. It was if we’d walked into a white bag. We floundered, unable to see, let alone find the hiking trail, nervous about being mowed down by a skier or snowboarder who couldn’t see us either.

We eventually figured out that the winterwanderwege was accessed via a trail shared with skiers and snowboarders. This isn’t uncommon in Switzerland, but walking on (and crossing) ski pistes gives me the willies.

It was a serious 45 minute slog; the snow deep, the trail un-groomed and uphill, the conditions downright unpleasant. Sharp blowing snow peppered our faces; I cursed the weather guessers under my breath.

We eventually reached the Motta chairlift, rode it to the top, walked the short distance to the Urdenfürggli chairlift, rode it, and then connected to the 150 person Urdenbahn (only ten people onboard), the aerial tramway/cable car that connects Lenzerheide with Arosa, making it the largest contiguous ski resort in Graubunden with some 225 kilometers of slopes and 43 varied ‘ascension mechanisms’ (opened in 2014).

Crappy weather aside, this was something!

https://www.outdooractive.com/en/cab...bahn/20748324/

From the Urdenbahn we connected with the Hörnli-Express gondola, which deposited us at the Hörnli Talstation above Arosa, where as usual, we missed the bus to the village by about 30 seconds.

We hesitated, unsure if we should walk down to Arosa, explore and then continue to Chur and Lenzerheide via train/bus (making a loop), or if we should hedge our bets and return the way we’d come, on the off chance the visibility would improve and we could actually see...something...anything.

We eventually decided to turn around; we rode the Hornli Express back up, settled in at a table in Hörnlihütte and slurped soup surrounded by hungry skiers and snowboarders – amazed at how much food some of them were putting away - cautiously optimistic as we spotted a tiny sliver of blue sky from the windows.

https://www.outdooractive.com/en/mou...-hut/22696417/

Then it was back on the Urdenbahn and the Urdenfürggli, teased with momentary glimpses of snowy mountain tops as the skies ever-so-slowly began to clear - backtracking was definitely the right decision. We reckoned it was wine-thirty, so we called into Motta Hütte – wow – stunning place this - fresh wood interior, massive fireplace, large wine room, tasty looking food, beauty.

https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-us/mottahuette.html

Three hours since beginning our cable car extravaganza, we sat sipping wine, people watching and soaking up the ambiance of the beautiful and seemingly unpretentious Motta Hutte – wistfully wishing that our ski area amenities at home in Colorado were a fraction as nice.

And then began the photo frenzy.

Our walk back to Rothorn was the complete opposite of our walk in – we could see! And it was beautiful. We rode the gondola from Rothorn 1 back down to Lenzerheide, where it was still cold and foggy...and yes, we missed the sports bus...again, so we hoofed it back to our apartment.

Dinner found across the street at the Sunstar Hotel, more steak tartare for the carnivore, vegetarian Flammkuchen for me, which, ahem, was covered in speck (but eaten just the same, although not terribly good - 47 CHF with one drink each).

Photos here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/melnq8...h/39991250361/

To be continued...
Melnq8 is online now  
Feb 11th, 2018, 10:55 PM
  #24  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,634
Hi Melnq8,

Also loving your report very, very much! I love the way you give urls for your amazing stops (btw, I just discovered outdooractive myself last year -- it's a great source to find walks!).

I haven't yet looked at your photos.... I'll need a long afternoon when I won't be distracted or interrupted.

Thanks so much for posting!

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Feb 12th, 2018, 07:03 AM
  #25  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,755
Good to see you here swandav! Hope you have lots of snow there in Garmisch-Partenkirchen!

Last edited by Melnq8; Feb 12th, 2018 at 07:07 AM.
Melnq8 is online now  
Feb 12th, 2018, 07:14 AM
  #26  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,755
Lenzerheide - Day 9

More snow had fallen overnight. We watched the early morning snow removal efforts from our kitchen window – a snow plow gathered it, pushed it into a front end loader, and then it was carted off. The Swiss seem to have snow removal and grooming down to a science; this much white stuff would cripple some places.

It was -3c, gloomy and snowing as we left the apartment, crossed the street and made a beeline for the bus stop, hoping - but not expecting - to catch the sports bus (yes! finally got it right!) to Sesselbahn Tgantieni. According to the weather guessers we were in for a day devoid of blue skies.

We paid 6 CHF each (1/2 fare, one way) climbed aboard the chairlift and were whisked into the thick clouds above Lenzerheide - just like in this video, but without the sunshine:


We set out on the nicely groomed 202 winterwanderwege, warily watching the indecisive clouds, completely obscuring potential views one minute, then teasing us with snippets of majestic snow covered Alps the next. As the clouds finally parted enough to reveal what surrounded us, I silently thanked the weather guessers for being wrong...again.

Our map indicated there was a restaurant in Spoina; we’d hoped to stop there for lunch, but it was shuttered and buried in snow. On to Plan B; we backtracked to Tgantieni, continued walking down to Lenzerheide via a neighborhood of fabulous homes, arriving at a bus stop just as the sports bus was approaching, lucky us (four miles return).

The witching hour was approaching, so we wasted no time walking up to La Collina Hotel for a Tagesteller encore – Bill opted for the Schweingeschnetzeites an Erdnusssauce, Butternudelen, Gemuse, rightly guessing it was some sort of pork with peanuts, noodles and vegetables.

I chose the other Tagesteller offering, Steinpilzrisotto mit Parmesan und Butter - zeroing in on the risotto, cheese and butter - but not recognizing or questioning the Steinpilz bit. Oops. Out comes a bowl of risotto with what looked like potatoes - and a lot of them - but no, they were big chunks of porcini mushrooms. There are few things I dislike more than fungus. On the upside, I learned a new word, and something tells me I won’t soon forget it (otherwise an excellent lunch, Bill all but licked his plate clean, 59 CHF with drinks).

Despite the weather forecast, it was a brilliant afternoon – the sun was out, the snow was melting and we could see the mountains that surrounded the village for the first time since we’d arrived.

The next three hours were spent washing and trying to dry two loads of laundry in the basement of our apartment – I don’t know what it is, but washing clothes in Switzerland is always an ordeal. Despite many dryer cycles, the clothes were still wet when the laundry room closed at 6 pm, so we draped them near the heaters throughout the apartment, hoped for the best and went next door for one last meal at Grotto Pizzeria da Elio (42 CHF, shared pizza and one drink each).

Photos here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/melnq8...57691210455821

To be continued...
Melnq8 is online now  
Feb 12th, 2018, 05:17 PM
  #27  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,755
Huh. Weird things are happening. The large empty white space was previously a link to a YouTube video of the Sesselbahn Tgantieni ride - there one minute, gone the next. Apostrophes have been changed to empty little boxes. I wonder what surprises are in store next?
Melnq8 is online now  
Feb 12th, 2018, 05:20 PM
  #28  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,755
Let's try that link again:

Melnq8 is online now  
Feb 12th, 2018, 06:02 PM
  #29  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,233
Melnq8, great report! Really like the inclusion of so many details. I, too, start out intending reports to be shorter, but then get carried away as we like to have the details as memories of our trip. Love you pix too! Thanks for posting both.
tomarkot is offline  
Feb 12th, 2018, 09:32 PM
  #30  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,634
Hi Again,

Yup we've gotten lots of snow this year! It's great for the skiers here!

BTW, I saw the youtube link yesterday afternoon -- I didn't click on it, but I did see it, and it looked like it worked. It was probably around 14.00 my time.

Oh, forgot to say -- soooo glad that your knee held up well with all your hiking!!

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Feb 13th, 2018, 12:04 AM
  #31  
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 1,191
Oh my, those photos ..... too beautiful.
Adelaidean is offline  
Feb 13th, 2018, 05:19 AM
  #32  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,599
This is wonderful. We were in Scuol in late May-early June and loved it. Looking at your first photos, is that a Jewish star on one if the buildings?
Dianedancer is offline  
Feb 13th, 2018, 06:48 AM
  #33  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,755
The link is back! So glad to hear you've got snow Swandav. Send some to us! The knee is a constant battle - I've been forced to tone things down significantly - we did a lot less than I'd have liked, but at least I didn't make it worse.

tomarkot - nice to see you here! Glad you liked the photos Adelaidean. I do love my sunshine.

Dianedancer - I assumed the star was a Christmas decoration, but I can't swear to that.
Melnq8 is online now  
Feb 13th, 2018, 07:01 AM
  #34  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,755
Lenzerheide to Ilanz – Day 10

The snow removal equipment was out in force again. We tidied up the apartment, stripped the bed, took out the recycling, packed our bags and waited for the apartment manager to turn up for what turned out to be a cursory inspection.

We eventually made our way to the bus station, surprised to find that we couldn’t purchase tickets all the way to Ilanz – so we bought tickets to Chur (5.70 CHF each ½ fare). The ride was very pretty; we could actually see our surroundings and the numerous villages we passed through. The descent into Chur gave us some great views of the city from above, once again surprising me with its size.

Upon arrival in Chur, we made the easy transition between bus and train station to purchase our onward ticket to Ilanz/Ilanz Obertor (closest bus stop to our apartment). After a bit of confusion at the ticket machine – which seemed to indicate there was a bus option, but not a train/bus option - we took the plunge - evidently making the right choice, as the train conductor had no issues with our ticket (9.80 CHF each 1/2 fare). Which begs the question – is there a difference in price between train and bus on the same route or are they interchangeable?

Aboard a rather rickety train, we made the 39 minute journey to Ilanz through the spectacular Ruinaulta (Rhine Gorge, aka the “Swiss Grand Canyon”) alongside the Vorderrhein, one of the two sources of the Rhine. We passed below the dangling Il Spir viewing platform, which we’d explored last June during our walk from Flims to Felsbach.

The day was sunny, the views incredible. This area is considered one of the most beautiful river stretches in Switzerland; I believe it.

In June we’d also walked from Ilanz to Versam-Safien (a very hot, sticky eight miles) and then returned to Ilanz via train, but the section from Chur to Versam-Safien was completely new for us. (We’d planned to take the train from Chur to Ilanz on that trip as well, but we were diverted to a bus due to an electrical problem).

At the Ilanz station, we connected to a bus which whisked us up to Ilanz Obertor, saving us an uphill climb with luggage in tow.

We got settled, making a COOP run to stock the apartment fridge and pantry, strolled through Old Town and re-visited a favorite establishment, Restaurant Obertor. As last year, communication was a bit of a challenge, but we muddled through.

Bill chose the Tagsteller – sausage with onion sauce, rice and vegetables. I went directly for the Bizzochels (aka Pizokels), delicate pillows of buckwheat pasta, drenched in butter, cream and melted alpine cheese – every bit as decadent and delicious as I remembered (52 CHF with drinks).

We knew our options for meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day would be very limited, so I’d done my homework. We hoofed it down to Landgasthof Glenner, one of our two options, to investigate. The woman behind the bar didn’t speak English, but somehow we managed to convey that we might be interested in booking a meal. She called her daughter from upstairs, and she, bless her, walked us through their Christmas menu. While very appreciative of her time and effort, we decided not to book, because the picky, non-fish, non-duck, non-liver eater (that would be moi) would be in a bind. We decided we’d just stock the fridge before the holiday grocery store closures, and play it by ear.

The rest of the day was spent walking the winter path alongside a stream, poking through Ilanz and collecting maps and information from the train station to plot our course for the next day.

To be continued...
Melnq8 is online now  
Feb 13th, 2018, 10:29 AM
  #35  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,755
Ilanz – Day 11

We’d yet to explore Val Lumnezia, so we walked to the Obertor bus stop near the apartment, and boarded the bus that would take us up to the “Valley of Light”, Surselva’s largest side valley. As I pulled out some francs, the bus driver said “no pay in winter in Obersaxton”. Bonus!

Val Lumnezia consists of the villages of Cumbel, Morissen, Vella, Degan, Vattiz, Vignogn, Lumbrein and Vrin. We decided to begin our exploration in the farthermost village, which is also the end of the bus line.

Forty-seven minutes later were in the tiny hamlet of Vrin, population 255. Although cold and rather dark this early in the day, we donned our Yak Trax and walked up to Cons, for no other reason than it was there and so were we. We timed our return to Vrin to coincide with the next bus, knowing the schedule was very limited this time of year.

From Vrin we took the bus down to Vella, popped into the Tourist Office to collect a map and pick the brains of an employee regarding walks in the area, and then set out towards Vignogn, via a trail on a terrace above Vella, offering what must be some spectacular views... on a clear day.

Before long we were approaching Davos-Munts Seecafe - housed in what appeared to be a new building - alongside a ‘bathing lake’, which, lucky us, was open for business.

Badesee Davos Munts, Vattiz, Val Lumnezia

Never mind that it was 20F; we settled in on the terrace overlooking the pond, curled up in the thoughtfully provided blankets and tucked into warm Gertensuppe; the locals gazing at us from the warm interior, no doubt thinking we were complete nutters (31.50 CHF with drinks).

We moved on, continuing our walk to Vignogn, exploring a bit, and then catching the next bus to Vella, where we disembarked for a closer look. It’s here that we stumbled upon yet another friendly Swiss cat and Hotel Gravas, open and deserted, save the owner and her friend, who were having an afternoon tipple. Wanting one of those ourselves, we were warmly welcomed, Bill happy to find his favorite Swiss brew, Allenzeller Weisenbier, me deferring to the owner’s wine recommendation.

Over the course of the afternoon, we learned that the hotel had no bookings, but was anxiously awaiting some with the ski season about to begin. We enquired about Christmas – yes they’d be open – so we booked a table in their fish-duck-liver-free pizzeria for Christmas. Problem solved.

Then it was back to Ilanz via bus, a COOP run in preparation for the upcoming holiday closures, and an encore dinner at Restaurant Obertor – more barley soup for me and a plate of those fabulous Bizzochels for Bill (minus a forkful or two for yours truly - 46 CHF with drinks).

Photos here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/melnq8...h/39187667015/

To be continued...
Melnq8 is online now  
Feb 13th, 2018, 12:13 PM
  #36  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,755
Ilanz – Day 12

With the free bus as incentive, we decided to further explore the Obersaxen region. The Obersaxen Mundaun Val Lumnezia winter sports area is home to – 120 kilometres of ski pistes, – 15 Baroque chapels and numerous villages. Despite its proximity to the internationally known resort of Flims-Laax, Obersaxen is a bit of a local’s secret, offering high quality skiing and a lack of crowds; none of which we knew when we stepped aboard the bus that morning.

Once again, we rode the bus to the end of the line (~42 minutes), disembarking at Friggahus and walking from there up to the hamlet of St Martin, population 35, situated on the steep slopes above the Valise Rhine canyon. Bill had found a promising winterwanderwege on our Obersaxen map, so after a brief exploration of St Martin, we set out to locate the start of the 216 Einkehr-Tour (refreshments tour), an 11.8 km. 3:25 minute trail that led to Misanenga.

We found the groomed trail and worked our way up above St Martin, the views getting better and better as the clouds began to part. We didn’t see another soul. A closer look at the map made us question the wisdom of walking the entire trail; evidently there was no bus service at Misanenga, which would leave us stranded after a long walk.

On to Plan B. We walked for a few miles, soaked up our beautiful surroundings, took a gazillion photos and then backtracked to St Martin, where we called in at what appeared to be the only establishment in town, Restaurant St Martin.

It was here that we had our most disappointing meal of the trip; a shared order of very bland Capuns, washed down with a decent 5 dl bottle of Jeninser Pinot Noir (42.50 CHF).

This time of year the buses run at two hour intervals; backtracking meant we had loads of time before the next bus and not a lot to fill it. We poked around tiny St Martin and then walked back to Friggahus, now totally immersed in shade.

We toyed with the idea of walking down to the next village (Meierhof), but we were afraid we’d mess around and miss the bus on that end (I’ve just Googled, looks like the walk would have taken about an hour). So, we just bided our time, freezing our bits as we awaited the 2:30 pm bus, surprised when it arrived, was promptly garaged, and then a second bus immerged from another garage in the same building.

The return bus took us right thorough the bustling ski areas, teasing us with brilliant sunshine. What we didn’t know at the time is that the hamlets of Obersaxen and Mundaun (Surcuolm and Flond) are situated on a 12 km long sun terrace at 1,072-1,430 meters above sea level. Should we return to the area in winter, this is the place to be!

Back at the apartment in Ilanz we tucked into an antipasto dinner, followed by Café mit Bailey’s a’la Mel and homemade cookies a’ la Theres (apartment owner). It was beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

Photos here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/melnq8...57690227652042

To be continued...
Melnq8 is online now  
Feb 13th, 2018, 10:07 PM
  #37  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,552
You enjoy torturing us, don't you? ;-)

Love Val Lumnezia! That whole area is fantastic and hardly known outside of Switzerland. Lovely pictures again.
Ingo is offline  
Feb 14th, 2018, 05:29 AM
  #38  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,599
Hi again - The building in your photo #10 of your first grouping of photos is somewhat in bad condition. I believe that's a Jewish star vs. a Cristmas decoration as it is seemingly put on with spray paint or something like that, and is drawn as two interconnected triangles. I do think it would be weird for Switrzerland, but it just doesn't seem Christmas-y to me.
Anyone else?

You photos make me sooo jealous. I want to go back to Switzerland in the winter!
Dianedancer is offline  
Feb 14th, 2018, 07:08 AM
  #39  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,755
Ingo - we were surprised with Val Lumnezia - we had no idea there was so much back there. Would love to return in summer to explore some trails. We didn't make it to Vals this time, unfortunately.

Dianedancer - yes that building in Tschlin is a wreck - it reminds me somewhat of a derelict hotel I always notice in Scuol - it's been vacant for ages and has fallen into ruin. Always strikes me as very un-Swiss like. I'm glad you're enjoying the photos.
The tree and manger below the star say Christmas to me, but I'm certainly no authority.

I've been trying to work with Fodor's tech people regarding all those little boxes that have replaced my apostrophes, but the source of the problem seems to be a mystery.
Melnq8 is online now  
Feb 14th, 2018, 07:20 AM
  #40  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,755
Ilanz Day 13 –

Christmas Eve dawned beautiful and clear. We caught a bus to Laax and then connected to a bus to Flims (4.40 CHF each, ½ fare), surrounded by skiers, snowboarders and piles of gear.

The village of Flims is situated on a terrace north of the Rhine valley and is dominated by the dramatic high sloping plateau of Flimserstein. Part of the Alpenarena ski resort, it links with the villages of Laax and Falera.

We mistakenly got off the bus one stop short of our intended destination, so we hoofed it up to Flims-Waldhaus, and then on to Waldhaus-Caumasee, the starting point of the Culinary Trail through the Flims forest.

We’d walked this trail last June, ending in Felsbach, where we’d returned to Ilanz via bus. Today however, our plan was to only walk as far as Restaurant Conn and return, with a slight detour to the Il Spir viewing platform, which dangles over the Ruinaulta.

https://www.flims.com/

The residents of Flims were out in force; the snow-packed, icy trail busy with like-minded walkers enjoying the beautiful day. As we worked our way toward Conn, cross-country skiers glided through the snow below us and shrieks from sledding kids reverberated through the trees.

Once at Restaurant Conn we settled onto the sun terrace for an alfresco lunch of Gerstensuppe, thick dark bread and local Pinot Noir (yes, more soup!) enjoying the rapidly disappearing sunshine while people and dog watching – the neighboring table had the biggest dog we’d ever seen.

After climbing the 62 steps of Il Spir and ogling the fabulous views, we returned to Flims the way we had come. We then wandered through the village, surprised to find so many businesses open and so many people out and about. With time before the next bus, we perched on stools at the window of a nearby cupcake shop, sipped Prosecco and watched the world go by.

Then it was back on the bus to Ilanz with a change in Laax (4.40 CHF each, 1/2 fare). It’d been a beautiful day for photographs; I had taken many, but my camera chose today to lose its mind and I got a whole lot of nuthin’.

The streets of Ilanz were virtually empty as we walked from the station back up to our apartment late that afternoon; the churches seemingly in a bell competition, creating a near deafening cacophony.

That evening we took the free bus back to Vella and walked up the hill to Hotel Gravas for Christmas Eve dinner. The service was attentive...the food... disappointing (66 CHF – two pizzas, wine, beer and tap water, 5 CHF).

After our meal, we walked back down to the Vella bus stop in the cold, calm dark, and awaited the last bus back to Ilanz (7:54). As we walked from the Ilanz bus stop up to our apartment, the church bells went berserk again – Christmas was here.

To be continued...
Melnq8 is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:31 AM.