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Dec 8th, 2016, 01:05 AM
  #41  
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And so you should Adelaidean - it was wonderful!
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Dec 8th, 2016, 01:08 AM
  #42  
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Dec 7 –

Another beautiful cloudless day!

We toyed with the idea of taking the Bernina Express to Tirano and back, but ~seven hours on a train – even if good use of a Swiss Pass - was just too daunting to think about…besides, we’ve been fortunate enough to have done it before.

So we took the train to Klosters, back though the Verenia Tunnel for the fourth and fifth times. We poked around town for a bit, visited the cemetery and took some snaps, then returned to the station and boarded a bus to Montbiel, the highest year round settlement in the Prattigau, and the starting point for what we hoped was a nice winter walk.

Winter walking in Switzerland is all about seeking the sun – and there didn’t seem to be any, we were so cold we had to put on our turtle fur (neck gaiters) for the first time this trip. The wind was up a bit and I worried we’d made a bad choice. But, soon we were walking in a sun drenched meadow surrounded by snow covered mountains.

We didn’t realize at the time, but the Alphutte Garfiun was open and their sun terrace was awash in warm sunshine. We settled in for a nice alfresco lunch – Gertensuppe with sausage for Bill, Nusstorte with cream for me, Malans Pinot Noir for both (42 CHF).

As it does, the sun dipped behind a mountain and was gone, leaving the sun terrace dark and cold. We bundled back up and continued walking beyond Garfuin, following the sunshine. Soon we were on a rough bergweg – we had no idea where it led or how far, so we decided to turn back, walking back to Montbiel, where we waited for the return bus to Klosters (five miles return).

Back in Scuol, we had our last meal at Hotel Belleval – those fabulous capuns for Bill (which he shared) and barley soup for me – both were wonderful. A culinary highlight - 60 CHF with 5dl of Sylvaner Reisling, and entertaining service – our waiter was a hoot.

Flickr is giving me grief, I will post a photo link later.

Goodbye to sunny Switzerland – Germany, here we come!
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Dec 10th, 2016, 12:58 PM
  #43  
 
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Interesting piece in the NYTimes about galleries in the Engadine:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/01/t-...ction%2Ftravel
WeisserTee is online now  
Dec 10th, 2016, 03:19 PM
  #44  
 
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Such a great report! We visited Scuol/Engadine for a week several years ago and loved it. Your report makes me want to go back as soon as possible.!! Thanks for all the links!
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Dec 11th, 2016, 07:33 AM
  #45  
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No, haven't fallen into a bachle, just having a good time with friends from England. Will try to post more from Germany soon.
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Dec 20th, 2016, 01:05 PM
  #46  
 
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Mel, waiting for some wintery photos .....

... going to be 40C over Christmas in Adelaide
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Dec 21st, 2016, 12:04 AM
  #47  
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Hi Adelaidean - Ugh, I remember those!

Haven't had much in the way of snow here other than in Berchtesgaden the other day. Of course, it's been plenty cold. I about froze my bits off a few days ago when I failed to wear my fleece under my winter jacket.

I've been keeping notes and plan to catch up on the report when I get back home - we leave tomorrow.

But in the meantime, some wintery photos just for you:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/melnq8...57676709373720
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Dec 21st, 2016, 02:13 AM
  #48  
 
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So beautiful, those trees with snow on them are fairytale like, my favourite. Thank you
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Dec 24th, 2016, 02:29 AM
  #49  
 
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Thought I'd send you some sun.. https://flic.kr/s/aHskdoJteL from Adelaide, apparently tomorrow we will be the hottest capital in the world
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Dec 24th, 2016, 06:22 AM
  #50  
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Those are absolutely beautiful Adelaidean, makes me long for Australia...but only between April-Sept

I send you Chrissy greetings from cold, mostly brown Colorado, where it is currently -2C.

We arrived home yesterday and had no trouble getting our Subaru up our very steep snow covered driveway, as it had only snowed a few inches since we'd left.

Last year was quite a different story. We arrived after dark on Christmas Eve and were met with about a foot of snow at our mountain home. We had to abandon our little rental car cattywompus at the foot of our driveway, as the gutless wonder took one look and laughed out loud. Pulling one's luggage up a 250 foot very steep driveway through a foot of snow after a long day of travel was quite memorable.

Time to crack open an ice cold bottle of Shiraz, put the air con or fans on full throttle and wrap an ice pack around your neck. That's what I'd do anyway.

But if it helps, here's a photo from our driveway last year - knowing you don't have to snow blow and shovel might make you feel a tiny bit better.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/melnq8...posted-public/
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Dec 24th, 2016, 11:17 AM
  #51  
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Those photos from Dec 7, which I was unable to post at the time:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/melnq8...57676597840051
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Dec 25th, 2016, 06:29 AM
  #52  
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Dec 8 –

We bid adieu to our lovely apartment and rolled our luggage across the lumpy meadow and to the railway station. We’d had a full week of brilliant weather and today was promising to be just as pretty.

We knew our Swiss Travel Pass would get us as far as Basel, but from there on we’d be in Germany, so we bought a ticket for the leg from Basel to Freiburg im Breisgau from the station attendant – 46 CHF for both.

And so began our five hour journey – with only one train change (yippee!). We changed to an ICE train in Landquart, settling in with the remnants from our apartment fridge - wine, salami and cheese, perfect train food.

Once in Freiburg im Breisgau, we rumbled over to the Hotel Minerva, where we’d stayed two years ago. This is a lovely small hotel...emphasis on small...rooms quite compact...we were given the same room as last time, which suited us well, tininess notwithstanding.

Our reasons for returning to the Minerva had more to do with their location – easy access on foot from the train station, yet quiet... and our stomachs. This hotel is home to the best breakfast in Germany as far as we’re concerned (145 Euro per night). So, essentially, we went for the food!

We poked around the Christmas market for awhile, wasting no time tucking into the Kartoffelpuffer, bratwurst and gluhwein. Then it was off to the Munster Cathedral, where we inadvertently attended mass; a prime example of my excellent German reading skills – I’d thought it was an Advent music concert. Oops.

We’re not even remotely Catholic, so once again we found ourselves sneaking out of church, but not before we were almost asphyxiated from incense fumes; both of us wondering how long the short round woman swinging the incense burning lantern would last before her arms fell off. Fortunately, we were seated waaay in the back and managed to leave quietly this time.

We then wandered over to the Alex Hotel to catch up with friends from England who’d come to join us for three days – they’d flown into Basel and taken the airport bus from there to Freiburg. We hadn’t seen each other since last December when we met in Munich, so there was much to catch up on, and we plotted our course for the next day.

Photos:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/melnq8...57678268690765
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Dec 25th, 2016, 09:05 AM
  #53  
 
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Very glad the breakfast buffet at Minerva is still that good. Yippee! Looking forward to the next adventures.

(Merry Christmas to both of you!)
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Dec 25th, 2016, 12:57 PM
  #54  
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Back at you Ingo - have a great holiday!
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Dec 25th, 2016, 01:11 PM
  #55  
 
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Weisswein soup sounds amazing, now I must hunt it down in the wild and slurp it to death!

Enjoying your trip report! Great pictures! I love how you put on your yak trax and went exploring- that is indeed what they're good for! My kind of people! (And hey, at least you got the time and day of the German "concert" correct- I had a similar incident in Nuremberg but I'd managed to convince myself it was Friday, when, in fact, it was Thursday!) I'm pretty sure the incense people train for that job in secret like its the olympics. I was always really impressed as a kid by our priest's incense handling skills!
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Dec 25th, 2016, 01:37 PM
  #56  
 
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No snow on our driveway

You've reignited my love of kartoffelpuffer, will make some for lunch, yummy.

My parents are German, so we had rotkohl and knodel with our turkey, have incorporated some German tradition into our hot Aussie Christmas Eve, then we do the traditional Australian lunch on Christmas Day... but it's always a roast lunch, no matter the temperature LOL. Husband leaps into the pool in between checking the roast (it's done in the bbq outside).

Always enjoy your lovely travels, one day I am going to see Scuol for myself.
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Dec 25th, 2016, 05:06 PM
  #57  
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marvelousmouse -

I made a similar mistake in Nuremberg too - we turned up for a 'light in the darkness' event (not sure if it was a service or what, but we were curious enough to find out) - but I got the time wrong. They'd filled the church and locked the doors just about the time we arrived. So, still a mystery as to what we did (or didn't) miss.

Adelaidean - you are a glutton for punishment - a roast dinner in that Australian heat! We used to wonder how on earth a turkey even fit into those tiny Aussie ovens, but you've solved that mystery - the BBQ!

I did my best to avoid the oven between December and March, especially in our first house, where we suffered through four Perth summers with completely worthless evaporative 'air con'. Ha!
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Dec 25th, 2016, 05:43 PM
  #58  
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Dec 9 –

We met Rick and Deb at the railway station and took the train to Staufen, a small town located at the edge of the Black Forest, surrounded by vineyards and overlooked by the imposing Bergruine. We had a Konus card, another Hotel Minerva perk, which covers trains, buses and trams in and around Freiburg. Rick and Deb were able to purchase one at their hotel for 25 Euro each.

Bill and I had visited Staufen a few years ago at Christmas and really enjoyed the quiet, seemingly tourist-free atmosphere, not to mention the local white wine, Gutadel.

http://www.staufen.de/en/tourism/

Unlike our previous visit, we were blessed with a beautiful sunny day. We walked up to the photogenic Bergruine for some lovely views of the surrounding countryside and terraced vineyards – note to self to visit again when the vines are actually green.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZ71wA1Ipjc

After our walk we explored the town, which was lined with Christmas trees covered in handmade ornaments. Then we sought out a pub we’d enjoyed last time - AlterSimpl, where we tucked into rosti and spaetzle. When the proprietor realized we weren’t leaving any time soon, he began bringing out larger and larger carafes of wine (!)

Back in Freiburg we poked through the Christmas market, sampled the goods at Martin’s Brau and succumbed to Bill’s craving for Indian food at Jaipur, which we’d booked a few hours earlier. We'd been advised to make a reservation if dining out on a Friday or Saturday night.

Dinner was okay, but not particularly memorable (I'm sure the copious amounts of wine had absolutely nothing to do with that!), but it’d been a lovely day with old friends.

Photos:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/melnq8...57676455609062
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Dec 26th, 2016, 03:19 PM
  #59  
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Dec 10 –

Today was all about Colmar, France – we met our friends at the railway station and caught the train to Breisach, situated alongside the Rhine River, approximately halfway between Freiburg and Colmar.

Our Konus cards got us as far as Breisach, where we connected with the bus to Colmar. The last time we did this the bus fare was 17 Euro return for two, but today, the bus driver advised there was a ‘special price’ of 8.20 Euro return for two (perhaps because it was Saturday before the third Sunday of Advent?).

There was a very large crowd trying to board the bus, and with the driver making change for everyone, it took ages to load up and get on our way. The bus was packed, standing room only, and many passengers (two of us included) had to stand the entire way.

The driver was a charming old gent who announced when we were leaving Germany and had us all say in unison ‘Bon Jour’ as we entered France.

The ride was fascinating...not because of the scenery, which couldn’t be seen due to the number of people blocking the windows, but because of the five young people surrounding me. They carried on a conversation in part German and part English, helping each other with specific words and reminding each other to speak in English for the benefit of one of their friends who I gathered was from Spain.

They were sharing their country’s New Year’s traditions and superstitions, and the young man from Spain told his German friends about the tradition of eating 12 green grapes at midnight in Spain. One of the German girls seemed amazed, and asked him how big the ‘crepes’ were – giggling when she realized her mistake. The whole eavesdropping encounter put a big smile on my face.

I’d hoped to attend the 11 am Boy’s Pre-choir at Impasse Hertenbrod, not knowing exactly what, or where that might be, but the bus loading debacle delayed us significantly, and we arrived too late to find out.

So, we did the next best thing; we headed directly to the beautifully preserved Fairy Tale that is Old Town Colmar and its numerous Christmas markets. We drank Vin Chaud, sampled the crepes with Grand Marnier, took a gazillion photos and tried not to get trampled. The day was beautiful, the crowd enormous.

http://www.noel-colmar.com/en/

The police and the French National Gendarmerie were out in force, the latter armed to the hilt with assault weapons. It was simultaneously unnerving and reassuring.

With fond food memories from our last visit to Colmar, we joined the queue for the Schwendi Bier Wistub. As tables became available, an employee would stick his head out the door and shout out the number of people he could accommodate – it took awhile, but we eventually got in – Roesti Munster all around, and as good as we remembered.

Rick and Deb returned to Freiburg, but Bill and I stuck around for the 5 pm Youth Symphony and Boys Choir concert at St Matthias, which was the whole reason I wanted to go to Colmar on this particular day in the first place. It was beautiful – those sweet little boy voices singing Go Tell it on the Mountain, accompanied by the youth symphony – a true highlight.

The return to Freiburg went much the same, a late arriving and departing standing room only bus, plus a 40 minute wait for a train in Breisach – either the connection from German train to French bus and vice versa isn’t well coordinated, or the buses from Colmar are routinely late. This also happened to us two years ago, and Rick and Deb had the same issue when they returned earlier in the day. A train eventually turned up, let people on, and then the engineer turned off the lights and left. At least it was warm!

Photos:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/melnq8...57674550782043
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Dec 27th, 2016, 01:11 AM
  #60  
 
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I bet the French buses are notoriously late (no wonder with the crowds), otherwise the connections are well timed, I am sure. Beautiful pictures, especially those with the lights on. I see yummy food, too
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