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Dec 4th, 2016, 10:05 AM
  #21  
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washington2418 -

We'll be in Freiburg im Breisgau, Nuremberg, Berchtesgaden and Munich. Enjoy your trip!

Weissertee - Swiss cats are definitely well fed...or perhaps just really fluffy
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Dec 4th, 2016, 10:53 AM
  #22  
 
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lovely descriptions of your adventures as ever Mel - and I'm glad it's not me who sometimes finds that supposedly thorough reading of bus timetables etc still leads to ending up in the place you've just left.
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Dec 4th, 2016, 10:32 PM
  #23  
 
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I like how you visit these quiet places and introduce us to the joy of visiting off the beaten path.
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Dec 5th, 2016, 09:41 AM
  #24  
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Dec 4 –

Another morning of hemming and hawing over our pancetta and rosti. Should we go to Samnaun today, or would Hof Zourt be a better choice on a Sunday? Hmmm.

Hof Zourt won out – there are two bus routes to Samnaun and the timing for the bus we wanted to take didn’t work. More on that later.

So, it was on to the 921 bus, off at Ramosch Fermada, then on to a connecting small post bus up to Vna…and thank god for post buses, as Vna is 5 km straight up. Walking that AND the eight miles return to Hof Zourt might have killed me.

We walked through the village of Vna and its pungent cow smells, and onto the track towards Hof Zourt. It was another beautiful sunny day and there were a surprisingly number of people (and cars) on the track and road.

The track was snow-free and completely dry – the views beautiful. As we trudged onward, we both commented that we didn’t remember the walk being quite so long (alas, we were two years younger when we last walked it – getting old is hell).

Eventually, we reached Hof Zourt, Switzerland’s most remote historic hotel, situated in an alpine triangle comprising Austria, Switzerland and Italy, and our favorite hike-in, hike-out lunch spot (thank you Ingo).

http://www.zuort.ch/index.php?77&L=1

During our two past winter visits to the hotel, we’d pretty much had the restaurant and sun terrace to ourselves, so we were baffled at the crowd that had gathered, and worried that we might have inadvertently crashed a private party.

I went inside to investigate – it was a bit chaotic, but I was referred to a gentleman who kindly explained that they were having a personnel change, and that the party was an ‘open day’. He then invited us to stay, walked me around the property pointing out the stable, where they would be serving soup, meat and cheese, pointed out the barbecue where they were grilling sausages and the kiosk with warm drinks and cookies. He told me we were to help ourselves, and just pay whatever we wanted when we left. I asked for a guideline – he shrugged and said 10-20 francs, but it was up to us and what we consumed.

Okay then. We jumped into the fray, wishing we could speak enough Romansh, German, or Italian to mingle like normal people, but well, we yanks are pretty pitiful when it comes to languages.

As we were tucking into our Engadiner Gertensuppe, a couple asked to join us. The minute they realized we spoke English, they switched languages mid-sentence and the four of us had a nice chat. Few things humble me more than the Swiss and their affinity for languages.

When I went inside to settle our bill, I was passed from person to person, no one seeming to know what to do with me. The owner, Dr. Peter Berry, was on site for the opening, so he was summoned. What a character! We had a nice chat, he explained the reason for the opening (new tenants had been hired to run the business in his absence) and asked how we’d learned about Hof Zourt. He then asked what we had eaten, thought about it for a while and then said there would be no charge.

It was a serendipitous day - being so warmly welcomed to an unexpected gathering of locals in such a pretty setting - we felt very lucky indeed.

We backtracked to Vna, arriving in plenty of time for the 3 pm bus. Then back to Scuol to raise our feet – we were bushed.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/melnq8...57675715961452
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Dec 5th, 2016, 10:07 AM
  #25  
 
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The best experiences always come unexpected. I'm green of envy (not really, I had a great time on the Christmas markets in Dresden today ;-) ) that you had such a fantastic day and lovely visit at Hof Zuort! YAY!
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Dec 5th, 2016, 10:19 AM
  #26  
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annhig - definitely not only you!
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Dec 5th, 2016, 10:31 AM
  #27  
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Enjoy those markets Ingo!
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Dec 5th, 2016, 09:05 PM
  #28  
 
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Thanks

Oh, and what about the spa in Scuol for today? (Bogn Engiadina!!)
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Dec 5th, 2016, 10:53 PM
  #29  
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I think we've decided on Chur.
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Dec 6th, 2016, 03:30 AM
  #30  
 
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I agree with Ingo on the unexpected experiences. The walks sound lovely too.
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Dec 6th, 2016, 04:40 AM
  #31  
 
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what a great day, mel - and what a good advert for the hotel!
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Dec 6th, 2016, 05:54 AM
  #32  
 
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Melnq8:

Was in Scuol for a short time in September. Your write-up convinced me that I should have pent more time there. Darn it! Really enjoying this.

H
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Dec 6th, 2016, 10:49 PM
  #33  
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There really is lots to do in and around Scuol Huggy.
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Dec 6th, 2016, 11:17 PM
  #34  
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Dec 5 -

Setting the alarm on holiday is just wrong, but that’s what we did. We were up just after six and on the 7:30 am bus to the duty-free village of Samnaun, located in a triangle where Switzerland, Austria and Italy meet.

There are two bus routes to Samnaun, the relatively sedate version via Austria, and the hair-raising route via Switzerland, where the road precariously clings to the jagged mountainside and winds through impossibly narrow tunnels.

We wanted the latter, which meant catching the 7:30 am bus to Martina, and connecting to the smaller bus to Samnaun, about 1:15 total. Highway crews were busy – they’re doing quite a bit of work through here and they’re putting in a new tunnel. I hope the drive is still hair-raising when they’re finished.

Once at Samnaun Dorf, we popped into the Tourist Office and asked for directions to Val Motnaida, a four mile return track we’d discovered a few years ago. Then we were off, immediately reminded of how cold it gets in this sun deprived valley in the winter months.

We’d barely begun walking when we stopped to put on our Yak Trax – the trail was snow packed and icy. It took us over an hour to get to the top – it was a steady, but gentle uphill climb – the fabulous views made it worth the effort.

We returned to the village and explored the duty-free shops – Bill drooled over the incredible selection of single malt scotch – I went nuts over the chocolate, buying as much as I could carry.

We wandered the village – man it was cold! There was a smattering of skiers clomping through town in their ski boots; several hotels and restaurants had not yet opened for the season. No shortage of open duty free shops though – high end purses and accessories, Rolex watches, knives, booze, perfume, cigarettes, chocolate, etc. I didn’t see any butter, which I’d noticed an abundance of during our last visit.

Lunch found us on the not very sunny sun terrace of Chasa Montana – the sun dipped behind the mountain about 10 minutes after we sat down – it was only 12:20! We instantly got cold, but we rugged up and enjoyed our lunch – Flammkuchen Diavolo mit scharfer Salami, Peperoni und Samnauner Kräutercrème (hot salami, pepperoni and Samnaun herb cream) for Bill, Tarte Flambee Original mit Speck, Zwiebeln und Samnauner Kräutercrème (bacon, onions and Samnaun herb cream) for me. Delicious. Our waiter suggested a ‘special white wine’ which was so good we ordered a second glass (Johann something or other) – total 62 CHF.

https://www.hotelchasamontana.ch/upl...lapasta_en.pdf

We worked our way through the shops on the way back to the bus stop, but we had plenty of time before the next bus, so in an effort to hide from the cold, we popped into El Rico ‘American Pub’ for a drink while we waited for our train – 13 CHF.

http://www.el-rico.ch/Pub.html

Our train back to Scuol went via the Austrian route, which was less fun, but gave a nice perspective of the route we had come in on across the River Inn.

Photos:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/melnq8...57677460358235
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Dec 7th, 2016, 03:46 AM
  #35  
 
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Hiking over ice?! You are brave. Sounds like the scenery was worth it though.
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Dec 7th, 2016, 10:46 AM
  #36  
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Brave...or stupid.

It's winter! What's a little ice here and there? That's why they made Yak Trax!
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Dec 7th, 2016, 11:01 AM
  #37  
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Dec 6 –

We’d considered heading to Piz Covatsch, but the combination of the time needed to get there and back (four+ hours return on train/bus), and the lack of winter hiking trails at the top convinced us otherwise. Winter days are just too short to spend on trains – we try to use our daylight wisely.

We’d never been to Chur, Switzerland’s oldest city, so we figured it was time we went. It was a two hour journey, no train changes. As we approached, we were a bit taken aback at it’s size, particularly the towering apartment blocks that greeted us at Chur Wiesental. I don’t know what we expected, but it wasn’t this.

Upon arrival at the main train station, we collected a city map at the Tourist Office and we were off.

We happened upon a Christmas Market, so naturally we had to sample the Weiss gluhwein (5 CHF + 5 CHF mug deposit per person, but hey, they had real mugs, none of that Styrofoam nonsense!). We stood, sipping and soaking up the 15 minutes of sunshine before it disappeared behind the buildings.

We poked along the cobblestone streets of Old Town, exploring St Martin Church and St Mary’s Cathedral, both quite beautiful, the Cathedral considerably more ornate, as is usually the case.

The sun was completely gone by 12:30, leaving us in the cold and dark. Not much seemed to be open, but there were gobs of hair salons. Chur must be very stylish.

We were lured into the tiny Falken restaurant near St Martin Church by the chalkboard menu, which advertised Weisswein cream soup. How could we go wrong with that? Oh. My. God. It was fabulous – truly fabulous – probably the best soup we have ever had, we just wished it came in a bigger bowl! We shared 5dl of Malanser Sylvaner Reisling – excellent all the way round– 41 CHF total.

After lunch we walked the Welschdorfli – the pleasure mile – chock-a-block with clubs, bars and a surprising number of kebab shops. We returned to the station via a meandering route through a neighborhood, centuries old buildings alongside new construction. Quite discombobulating.

Back in Scuol, we walked down the mountain to La Collina, where we shared a salami pizza and a small carafe of merlot – we were the only customers in the place; tasty and filling - 29 CHF.

Then it was back up the mountain to share the slice of Nusstorte I'd picked up in Chur, heated in our apartment oven. Bill had questioned why I wanted it, and then later wondered why there wasn’t more.

Photos:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/melnq8...h/31119082780/
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Dec 7th, 2016, 11:03 AM
  #38  
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tripplanner -

I read your comment to Bill and he asked if you were Australian.
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Dec 7th, 2016, 03:48 PM
  #39  
 
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No, I'm an American, and have lived in Chicago for several years no less. I don't mind snow - in fact enjoy it a fair amount - but am a bit skittish with ice. If I had to pick another nationality, it would definitely be Australian though.
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Dec 7th, 2016, 11:10 PM
  #40  
 
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Not being a risk taker when it comes to food (especially with the CHF prices) I would never have ordered a weisswein soup, now I might look out for it.
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