The Engadin houses, groundhogs and spiral tunnels of Graubunden

23rd of July, 2018

Our next stop will be a tiny place called Schmitten, in Graubünden. Here, we will stay for five days in a lovely apartment. After some investigations of the map, we decide to take the smaller scenic road over the Sustenpass and Oberalppass. No regrets, we enjoy every minute of our drive! The road is pretty curvy, but the views are impressive. We pass gorges, waterfalls, gletchers, snowpatches, wild rivers and even a lake high up the mountain. The rock formation reminds me of the Rocky Mountains between Jasper and Banff in Canada.

Finally, when descending, we can see the Gotthard tunnel from the corner of our eyes. As most of the times, cars are all in line waiting for their turn to get through.

We can follow our route via another tunnel; the Oberalppasstunnel. The rough landscape is changing into green fields with grazing cows and we buy some cheese, fresh from the farm. We now enter the lovely countryside of Graubünden. Schmitten is situated around 1350 meters in the mountains. There is only one small grocery store, one butcher, who sells only all kinds of schinken, no restaurants and not even one café. The old and new church are the landmarks of Schmitten and form a centerpiece on the hill-top with fabulous views down into the valley.

Nothing blocks the view from our balcony! All you see are the impressive mountains right in front of you!

25th of July, 2018

Just down the road from our apartment, a trail starts direction Filisur. This picturesque village is situated in Parc Ela and is known for its ‘Engadinerhäuser’ and the fabulous panoramic view over the ‘Landwasser-viaduct’, one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. This is part of the Rhaetian Railway or Rhätische Bahn. No tourists lined up on the platform here, as you can only reach it via a very steep and small path. So it is more or less a hidden secret!

On the other side of the gorge we can see another platform with many more visitors, but they never have the same fabulous view as we have! We continue our walk down to Filisur following the river and admiring all kinds of different butterflies and flowering bushes.

The long-stretched village of Filisur is like an open-air museum with a variety of Engadiner houses. These houses used to be farms with a barn at the back. The front side has a double door, where carriages had to be able to pass. The windows are placed deep into the very thick walls. Most houses are decorated with different designs. After admiring the houses in this extremely quiet village (since there is a new road around the village, there are less tourists visiting……….), we have a tasteful lunch and return all the way back up the hill to Schmitten.

26th of July, 2018

Today we meet up with friends, who are waiting for us in the very attractive village of Bergün. It is only a short drive from Schmitten and just like Filisur blessed with beautiful Engadin houses. Besides, it has a vibrant center and a fantastic outdoor swimming pool. Around Bergün, the alpine railway line lingers through the landscape. Just above Bergün you can see the famous village of Latsch, known from the Heidi movie in 1952.

Our hike for today starts right in Bergun and goes high up in the mountains from the ‘Álp da Tisch’ and the ‘Crop Sot Igls Munts’………. A fabulous walk under guidance of the expertise of our friend, who totally trusts our hiking skills.

Very pleased to have a stop at the one and only café up the mountain. The person, who prepares and serves the food, also has to help the people out of the chairlift, so he is running around like crazy.

We wait forever for our drinks and are tempted to go and help him in the kitchen! It seems that today brings more people up the mountain than expected………

Our second leg of the hike gets rewarded with the ‘whistle’ of the groundhogs or ‘murmeltieren’. We wait in silence, just as the dog is, and finally we can spot them on a few different locations. What a great way to end our fabulous hiking day!

27th of July, 2018

On our last day in Graubünden, we decide to take the train from Filisur to Preda and walk back to Bergün. Just one more day to enjoy this amazing canton of Switzerland! It is nice to experience the train going in and out of the tunnels and rolling over high bridges with stunning views. In Preda we get off and have a look at the Info Arena, where you find explanations regarding the construction of the old Albula Tunnel of 1903 (now a UNESCO World Heritage site) and the rebuilding of a new tunnel. The inner walls of the old tunnel are not safe anymore.

 

From the Info Arena, the Railway Historic Path starts alongside the Alpine Railway Line, back to Bergün or even further to Filisur. Sometimes easy, sometimes a bit rough, but all the time with views on the spiral tunnels, the impressive bridges and fast running waters underneath.

A couple of hours later, we arrive in Bergün, where we finally can have a cold beer after this long walk in the heat! Later, we take the train back to Filisur and say goodbye to ‘The Engadina’ or “the valley of the river Inn”.

 

 

 

 

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Hiking around the Thunersee and Brienzersee

20th of July, 2018

In Meilen on Lake Zürich, we take the ferry to Horgen and drive from there to Luzern. We park the car in one of the many garages in town and hope our three-hour stop will be enough to get a glimpse of this attractive city. It seems as all the tourists from Switzerland arrived at the same time as we did, but we work our way to the Vierwaldstätten See and pretend we are the only ones…….

The main hotspot is the wooden Chapel Bridge and the octagonal Water Tower, dating back to the year 1332. After a fire in the year 1993, it was totally rebuilt. Just a few of the paintings did survive……..

 

We follow for a while the river Reuss and find our way back to the car via the cozy streets of the inner city. By now the rain starts and we continue our route over the Brünigpass, along the Brienzer See, via the outskirts of Interlaken and finally reaching  our hotel Movieworld in Spiez am Thunersee. The hotel is one of a kind; it has a movie theatre on the lower level, rooms with a (very basic) theme, a parking under the shopping centre and from the breakfast/dining room a fantastic view. Just a ‘bit’ too close to the train station…….

We decide to hike to the tiny harbour down below, bordering an impressive park with olympic swimming pool. For the first time we need long trousers and sweaters, as the climate is totally different here in Berner Oberland. The few restaurants are pretty occupied, but we find a small place with simple, but pricy food…….

21st of July, 2018

The next morning, after a delicious breakfast, we hike to Thun. Part of the road goes through the fields, part through the woods and also a part through an ugly little village. Finally, somebody shows us a nice way to the lake and we follow this path, until we reach Thun.

 

The ‘Thunerseespiele’ Mamma Mia will be performed on a huge stage right on the lake and this event attracts many people from all over Switzerland.

Also famous in Thun is the fast running water of the river Aare, by the old bridge, where surfers are showing their ability to stay on the paddle board. Some are experienced and some not……

 

 

 

After, the old town invites us for a drink and a bite on the central plaza. Thun has many interesting landmarks, but we are running out of time. The enormous castle on top of the hill has to wait for maybe another occasion. Walking all the way back is also not an option. Our feet are sore and the train is bringing us back to Spiez in just ten minutes.

 

22nd of July, 2018

We need a good night sleep for our hike the following day up the Niederhorn. First we drive to the long-stretched village Beatenberg on the Brienzersee and from there we go via small and steep goat trails all the way up. It is a beautiful walk with amazing views over the mountain range on the other side of the lake. With clear weather you can see the Jungfrau, Mönch and Eiger! Many visitors just take the funicular to the highest point and back, but we enjoy our hike away from the crowds.

 

 

 

 

 

Zürich, city by the lake

17th of July, 2018

My friend invites me for a two-week trip to Switzerland, a country which he visited many times in the past and where some of his relatives and friends are living. It’s July and I am hesitant, as I like Holland in summer time and I am not too keen in travelling during high season. Too late, as my travel hormones are already flying through my body and in no time my bag is packed and my garden treasures are left in the good hands of my neighbour.

Our program will be very exiting, as we start in Zürich and go from there in different directions. On a sunny Tuesday we hop in the car and drive the whole day via a very quiet highway through Germany, until we reach ‘City Stay Apartments’ on the Kieselgasse in Zürich. Our spacious residence is convenient situated on walking distance of the lake and historic centre. We are just in time to catch a glimpse of the sunset over Lake Zürich.P1030354

The walkway along the lake is filled with people of all ages and nationalities. People are having a picnic on the grass, some are playing guitar and some are just chatting away. This is definitely the spot where people like to spend the evening. We reach the old centre after a thirty minute walk and are just in time to find a place where they still serve some food. This is my first encounter with Swiss prices (which are very high!) and I am glad we booked mainly apartments, so we are able to cook our own meal!20180717_212506

18th of July, 2018

The next morning, we visit some relatives, go for a hike up the mountain P1030247and relax by the lake in Uetikon am See in the afternoon. This place is great for swimming. No entrance fee and a fabulous recreation area and even a small cafeteria with reasonable prices. The views are amazing and the water is luke warm.20180718_133154

19th of July, 2018

On the morning of our last day in Zürich, it is time for discovering the old town. Today is a pretty hot day and most people left the city for their holiday in the mountains. We stroll via the bridges over the Limmat river, from one side of the city to the other, and admire the St. Peter church with its enormous clock. Supposedly, it is the biggest clockwork from Europe.

 

We walk through the famous Bahnhofstrasse, fall in the middle of the shooting of a German movie and visit the impressive Grossmünster and Fraumünster church.

 

Another attraction of Lake Zürich are the swans. I never saw so many together in one spot.

 

We return to our apartment via the walking trail along the lake, where musicians are trying to earn some extra money. Many come from South and Central America! We grab a beer and sit ourselves down on one of the many benches. Tomorrow, we will leave this charming town and go direction Berner Oberland.