We visited the Upper Engadin region of Switzerland, which has three charming towns in close proximity: Samedan, St. Moritz, and Pontresina. Unfortunately, it was right in their off season, so many places were closed and the towns were deserted. We only ended up staying there for one night. The album includes photos from the Bernina Express journey. Click the photo below to see the full album.
Don Quixote and Sancho sallied forth this morning to St. Moritz from Samedan, intent upon finding adventure and honor on the Glacier Express bound for Zermatt. The trip would take a long eight hours and would deposit them in the town nearest the Matterhorn, that famous craggy peak.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The adventurers surely could not depart on an empty stomach. They enjoyed a delicious breakfast of cereals, yogurt, cold cuts, cheese, jams, and breads–typical of what they normally partake of and of excellent quality. This was yet another way in which Hotel Palazzo Mysanus exceeded all others so far.
Raul and Lauren’s railway journey was long but immensely more comfortable than by plane. The travellers opted to upgrade from second to first class due to the length of the trip. Also for the first time, they had a proper meal on a train.
The Glacier Express slowly (sometimes, at 20 m.p.h.) carried its passengers over countless bridges and viaducts, through dozens of tunnels, often perched on the edge of gorges and canyons, and over high mountain passes using a rack and pinion engine and track to overcome 12.5% grades. The terrain varied from the green, Alpine meadows of the Engadine valleys to the barren tundra above the tree line to boulder-lined landscapes reminiscent of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The views were fantastic and endless. Lauren took a nap after lunch, not because she wanted to but because the Dramamine and the gentle rocking of the train made her drowsy.
Once in Zermatt, they checked into their room at the Youth Hostel and dined on the included dinner, which was barely mediocre. They do not plan to partake tomorrow.
A stroll through the traffic-free lanes of Zermatt was all they had time for before calling it a night.
|Day 13||Monday 28 May||Zermatt|
Depart Pontresina on R 4624 to St. Moritz
|08:08||Arrive St. Moritz|
Depart St. Moritz on D 905, S₣33 seat reservation – Glacier Express, upgrade to 1st class, S₣96
Duration: 7h 45m
|12:30||Three-course lunch on Glacier Express, S₣43, 11:00-13:30|
Check in at Zermatt Youth Hostel, S₣114,20/night (1-2 nights), includes breakfast & dinner
Tel: +41 027-967-2320
|17:30||▲Wander the Town or ▲▲Matterhorn Museum, closes at 18:00|
Hotel San Carlo’s breakfast room seemed too small for the size of the hotel, and Lauren and Raul indeed had to wait for a table. After a hurried breakfast, Lauren had the uncomfortable encounter of overhearing the proprietor telling an Asian woman that she and her party had stayed too long at breakfast–over an hour–and that she should not take so much time, as other guests needed to eat as well. Lauren was very surprised at this sentiment, because Europeans simply don’t hurry through meals.
Raul and Lauren rushed to the bus stop adjacent to the train station above the town and boarded the Bernina Express bus bound for Tirano, Italy. The bus ride was bumpy and jerky, in stark contrast to their train journeys. The rocking put Lauren to sleep as it usually does. They waited an hour and a half in Tirano for their official Bernina Express train connection and used that time to explore the town’s vast Sunday market.
The Bernina Express train journey was breathtaking, with numerous switchbacks that allow the train to climb to 7,380 ft–higher than they were on Mount Pilatus. Amazingly, this ascent is achieved without the use of a cogwheel.
They arrived in Pontresina ready to check in to their chosen hotel. After a steep climb to the town’s center, they found that not only was their hotel closed until June, but so were the other five they checked. Evidently there is a lull between the winter and summer seasons when many establishments shutter their doors. With little choice left, Raul and Lauren found an open hotel in the nearby town of Samedan, the Hotel Palazzo Mysanus. Being one of the more expensive options, it wasn’t their first choice, but it was their only choice. In this case, the expense was well worth it, as this hotel was by far the nicest one they have stayed at thus far.
A tour of the town led them to a dramatic viewpoint by the Church of St. Peter. From here, they could survey the valley and peaks surrounding Samedan. Even though Samedan is in a valley, the altitude is still over 6,000 ft.
They caught the next train to the nearby resort town of St. Moritz for dinner. Just as Pontresina and Samedan had been, St. Moritz was virtually deserted, and most businesses were closed until later in June. They dined at probably the only open restaurant, Restaurant Hauser, and returned to Samedan for the night. Needless to say, they did not spot any celebrities.
Since most places were closed, they decided to travel on to Zermatt the next morning, rather than spend Monday in the Upper Engadine region. So, their itinerary has been slightly derailed.
|Day 12||Sunday 27 May||Pontresina|
Depart Lugano on Bus 5950, S₣12 seat reservation – Bernina Express
Total duration: 6h 26m
|14:22||Depart Tirano on D 960, S₣12 seat reservation – Bernina Express|
|16:26||Arrive Pontresina, bus 2 from Pontresina, Post leaves for Segantini Museum at 16:48|
Check in at Hotel Engadinerhof, S₣120/night (2 nights)
Tel: +41 081-839-3100
|17:30||Visit St. Moritz, 10m train, 1/hr|