After a memorable train ride through the Bernina Pass we were met at Diavolezza Station by our trusty tour driver, Hermes, and rejoined the coach for the run in to St Moritz (see here and here for the first couple of parts of our day trip). We could just about make out glimpses of the famous Morteratsch Glacier as we sped along the valley road towards St Moritz – a bit too tricky to photograph though!
St Moritz lies in the spectacularly beautiful Upper Engadine Valley (also known as Engadin). The River En/Inn has its source in the Maloya Pass south of St Moritz and from there starts its long journey towards the Danube River and ultimately the Black Sea! We had been lucky enough to spend a couple of days in the region a few years ago (arriving by the Glacier Express from Zermatt in the Valais Canton). Whilst the name St Moritz conjures up images of luxury and opulence with the jet set going there to ski and party, if you go out of season (as we have done both times) it is far quieter and considerably cheaper! The alpine air is crisp and refreshing and there are many walks and mountain trails to enjoy. The locals are proud of their culture – you never know whether someone is going to speak German, Italian or the ancient Romansh language. Further down the valley towards Chur pretty little villages and old castles dot the steep valley slopes.
We only had a couple of hours or so on this occasion so thoughts turned immediately to lunch! There are two main parts to St Moritz – St Moritz Bad down by the lake and higher up St Moritz Dorf (The Village). The latter is where you’ll find many of the restaurants and upmarket hotels taking advantage of the superb mountain and lake views (although the iconic Badrutt’s Palace Hotel can be found lakeside). We had stayed at Steffani Hotel on our first trip to St Moritz and enjoyed some hearty fayre at the excellent restaurant. However with time being of the essence this time we opted to have lunch at Hauser Restaurant. It was recommended by our tour guide, Julia, (see here for day trip details) and therefore we figured they would be used to getting food out quickly and efficiently for hungry tour parties. I should add that apart from the coach and train rides we were free to wander round as we pleased at all the stopping off points – no need to all hang out together unless you want to!
Monsieur thought we should try sitting outside to enjoy the lake views. However it was minus several degrees (at 1822 metres above sea level) and Mlle and I didn’t exactly warm to the idea!
We duly repaired inside to the warmth. Hauser is a 4th generation family run business and the food has a hearty home-made feel to it – just what we needed on an especially cold spring day after a long journey. Warming barley and vegetable soups, the local speciality “roesti” and some tasty local red wine – we tucked in. Hauser is very proud of using local produce and supporting the environment. You can find out more from their place mats!
The restaurant was very busy but it was all in a day’s work for the cheerful staff who served us with admirable Swiss efficiency.
I didn’t realise at the time but Hauser also has an Australian themed bar, “The Roo” where you can enjoy an “apres-ski” drink or take advantage of the sun terrace in warmer months.
After lunch we had a pleasant wander round town. Designer label shops such as Chanel, Gucci and Louis Vuitton mingled with smaller speciality shops and we noticed that many of them were closed. Whether this was because it was a Monday or low season in general (April) we weren’t too sure. However we weren’t too disappointed – apart from the chocolate shop!
We gradually wended our way back down the hill to the station car park – the meeting point for our coach.
We set off again, this time on the road going south out of St Moritz Bad, passing the impressive Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains en route for Silvaplana and the Maloya Pass. The scenery as we drove along the lakes of Silvaplana and Sils was as breathtaking as that of the Bernina Pass earlier in the day – if that were possible. We made our way back towards Italy via the precipitous Maloya Pass – more about that next week!
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