We left Zurich around 6:30 for a ~2.5 hour train ride to Davos, the furthest city to the eastern side of Switzerland that we traveled to. We actually only ended up coming here because Angela volunteered up her remaining free resort nights, courtesy of her fabulous employer. She had enough to book not just one, but TWO rooms for the Friday/Saturday nights we were there for.
For some odd reason, I thought one of the recent Winter Olympics was held in Davos. Once again, like so many times on this trip, I was wrong. It was held in Lugano, which though in Switzerland, is practically in Italy.
Courtesy of Lonely Planet
Sometimes, even I astound myself with my artistic abilities.
So, a funny story about coming to Davos. Because we left on a later train from Zurich, we had to take a bus from one of the train stations along the way that would eventually drop us to the train station we would have gotten off at. I’m not sure why, but there was no direct train (they end around 7pm). While we’re on the bus, and Angela goes ‘CRAP’!!! I never wrote down how to get to the hotel from the train station.
Crap indeed. We were optimistic that the Sheraton would be within sight’s view upon arrival.
Lo and behold. Nothing. Just a plain train station, a gas station, and wilderness.
Luckily, as I was asking the bus driver where the Sheraton was, there just so happened to be a guy near our age from Bern who was coming home to visit his family for the week. And where did he live? RIGHT NEXT TO THE SHERATON!
He took us through some backroads to avoid traffic. It was so dark and there were so few lights, we definitely would have gotten lost. Angela thinks that I’m her good luck charm because things like this apparently only happen when I’m around. Either way, I was immensely thankful for our lucky break!
We got to the hotel and checked into our rooms. They were gorgeous. I felt like I was living in a glorified log cabin. Everything was just so warm and homey. The only thing that was missing was a fireplace and a cup of hot cocoa. And the bed? It was so giant! It fit three of us spaciously. And the pillows! Even I wanted to use the pillows! (I typically don’t sleep with a pillow).
We woke up to this view. Absolutely spectacular. Throughout the walk from the train station to the hotel, we couldn’t see anything but the stars and a few lights from what seemed to hover in between land and sky. We were told that the most pronounced light was a restaurant on the mountain. We could barely make out the shapes of the mountains, so we were quite taken aback to wake up to this majestic site of mountains all over.
Davos is a resort town, predominantly frequented by skiiers and snowboarders. It was a bit odd that there was barely any snow in November, but this was true all around Switzerland. It was only when we hiked up above 2,000 meters than we began to see snow.
We were told that we could take the Schatzalp cable car that would take us a quarter way through the top and hike the rest. If you stay at any hotel in the area, they’ll provide you with a “GASTEKARTE” (or guestcard) that will grant you free local transportation including buses and cable cars. But- I cannot make this up– they made the cablecar FREE that Saturday we went because “it was so nice outside.” How brilliant! Totally not very Capitalistic…
Map courtesy of Schatzalp
From the top of where the cable car drops you off – you can see as that nearly vertical line labeled “SCHALTZALPBAHN,” – there’s still quite a bit of mountain left to cover before reaching the top. Only in Switzerland are the peaks decked out with restaurants offering Panoramic views. We decided to make our way to the top (unfortunately, the restaurant was closed). Luckily, there was barely any snow, so the hiking was pretty do-able.
We essentially took the blue line up. For those color-blind, the trail is marked in a dotted line alot with three stick figures, representing yours truly.
View from where the cable car drops you off
To keep us going, we brought bagettes and Nutella. There are a bunch of tables and benches where you can take in the view while eating a snack or meal. Given how expensive is up there (and the fact that NOTHING was open in November), it is highly recommended that you stop at a local COOP (a supermarket chain) and buy yourself some food to pack away.
The hike took awhile. It took roughly 3 hours to get up, cable car ride and all included. Remember that the pink and the blue trails start out as the same trail for the first quarter mile or so. The pink trail is roughly a 1.5 hour hike roundtrip. The blue trail, if you know your way is roughly 3-4 hours. It took us five hours.
Why did it take us five hours? First, because we are out of shape Americans. Second, because we didn’t have those cross-country skiing poles. Third, because we got a bit lost, having gone a few hundred yards on the pink trail before we realized we were headed the wrong way. And last but not least, because we took a damn lot of photos.
See those two up there? They’re actually an elderly pair of women who quickly outpaced us.
Part way through, when it seemed as if the soil was just so rocky that there was barely any tread, we asked a couple how much further left we had to go. They replied half an hour. In fact, we were nearly done with the steepest part of the mountain, and what lay in front of us were “small hills.” A few minutes later, we got to the “hills.” They were not hills.
But alas, we reached the top! Here is the view from the restaurant up at the top of the trail. There were a few hikers taking in the scene, but overall, it was pretty bare. We settled down and unpacked lunch- baguettes with chicken curry that we had gotten at the super market. We were ravished.
YAY WE MADE IT!
I was a bit concerned going down, given how steep everything was. Eventually, we ended up going off the trail and directly through the middle of the mountain where it was grassier and therefore easier to walk. Along the way, we spotted these two. They practically ran down the mountain, which gave them enough time to enjoy the scene and still beat us to the cable car.
Davos was once of my favorite places on this trip. I wish there was a bit more snow- we could actually see the avalanche barriers; that’s how bare it was! At the same time, I’m pretty sure we would never have reached the top if there was snow. The people here are super nice and it’s quite a charming town to visit. One day, if I have enough money, I’m gonna rent a log cabin on the mountain for a month and just watch the snow falling down. It’s so peaceful!