I had never been to Switzerland before but it has always been on my bucket list. I’ve been working for Ramblers Walking Holidays for 2 years as part of the Sales and Reservations team. So when I received the opportunity to go to Switzerland with Switzerland Tourism in early October I obviously jumped at the chance.
I met half of the group early in the morning at London Heathrow as the rest were travelling from Manchester and London Gatwick. We travelled with Swiss Air directly to Zurich. During the flight we received a light snack, since this was an early morning flight we got a croissant, a drink, and obviously Swiss chocolate. We met up with the rest of the group in the arrivals area and made our way to St Moritz.
It was a bit of a journey to St Moritz, with a couple changes, but we did make it eventually. We travelled by train to Chur, which took around 1.5 hours, and then from Chur to St Moritz by train for an additional 2 hours. The weather changed the higher we went, St Moritz is roughly 1800m high, and it started to snow just before we arrived!
We arrived at the train station and the hotel was only a 10 minute walk away. We stayed at the Cresta Palace. This is an impressive 4 star hotel. Behind the hotel is a ski hill that can be used by guests in the winter, and the hotel provides a ski pass. The hotel offers a lot of facilities, including a spa, heated pool, and bar.
My room was also very impressive and huge! It had two bathrooms, with separate shower and bath, and an Austrian Style twin bed. The twin bed can be made into a double bed if preferred. The room also had a fridge, safe, hairdryer and coffee facilities. They even provide a hiking rucksack to borrow if you forget yours. I had a lovely view of the courtyard in the front of the hotel. Each evening when we would come back to the hotel the bed would be turned down with a piece of chocolate on your pillow. The staff was amazing and made the group feel very special and welcomed.
On our first full day in Switzerland we all met for breakfast. The hotel provided a buffet breakfast, including pastries, homemade waffles, cheese and fruit.
The guide for the day’s walk met us at the hotel. We left from the hotel and took the train to Hospizio Bernina. From there we had an hour hike to the Hotel Belvedere. Since it had snowed the day before it was a bit slippery and a chilly -10c. A few layers were needed but once you started walking you quickly forgot about the chill. It a lovely clear day, so the snow on the mountains and lakes looked incredible.
We arrived at the Hotel Belvedere, which overlooked the valley toward Italy, here we had ‘Ghackets Mit Hornli’, a traditional dish to be eaten following a hike. It is basically macaroni, meat sauce, and apple sauce mixed it while you are eating. The meal was huge, but was much needed after the morning walk.
After lunch we took the train to the Glacier and to the Glacier Rock Gardens. The Glacier Rock Gardens were rocks or boulders that had moved down with the Glacier and created hotel in the ground, some as deep as 15m deep. The rocks or boulders taken down can spin so quickly they break down the ground and other rocks to create the holes. There were many different shapes, including one shaped like a heart.
Dinner that evening was cheese fondue! The restaurant, La Gondolezza, was built in an old gondola, and as soon as you walked in you were hit by the strong smell of melted cheese! I didn’t realise how many types of fondue there were, but, after much deliberation, we ordered two fondues, traditional and beer infused! We also ordered Raclette (melted cheese over potatoes, pickles, and pickled onion). While eating the fondue you have to make sure you keep stirring the cheese or it will burn on the bottom of the pan. This meant you were eating a lot and trying your best not to lose the bread in the fondue. We were advised to drink hot tea with this because if you drink cold drinks, especially soft drinks, it could make the cheese in your stomach solidify and give you a stomach ache! Finally, after being able to digest a bit we made our way back to the hotel.
On second full day we took the Bernina Express from St. Moritz to Tirano, Italy. It was a very sunny day and most of the snow had melted. We were on the train for 2-3 hours, through the valley towards Italy, the journey had amazing scenery, and the weather got warmer the further we went down the mountains. It was clear as we approached Italy as the buildings started to change to a more Italian style. When we arrived in Tirano we walked off the train and straight into Italy. We went to Restaurante Ai Portici for lunch. It was very relaxing and the restaurant made us all feel very welcome, they even gave us a bottle of wine to take home!
We got back to the hotel and quickly changed for our final dinner together. The last dinner was at the Panoramic Restaurant of Muotas Muragl. We took the Funicular train to get up to the top, it didn’t take long, but it did feel like very high and steep! While we were waiting for dinner there were two Swiss Alphorn players. I can’t imagine trying to play one of those things as it looks quite heavy and difficult! The restaurant had lovely views of St. Moritz below and surrounding areas. When the sun goes down its even more beautiful, and the stars are extremely bright from up there. During dinner we had wine and a typical dish called Capuns, which is meat and veggies wrapped in chard leaves covered in cheese and nut cake for dessert. The meal was excellent and presented beautifully. We made our way back down the mountain and went back to the hotel.
On our final day in Switzerland we checked out of the hotel and made our way to Chur, which is the oldest city in Switzerland. Once we got to Chur we had a guided tour of the city. It’s a beautiful city with a slight German influence. We had lunch and made our way to Zurich airport to fly back home.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable trip. Switzerland is a beautiful country and the impressive transport offers were an amazing way to see everything.