Falling in love with… St. Moritz…

Even though we had to stay one night in St. Moritz because it was the only way to do the Glacier Express comfortably (as it would have been too much of a rush and tiring to do the Glacier Express as a day excursion from Lausanne), both the hubby and I found that we actually liked the place … very, very much. As the hubby would say … he doesn’t just love it, but that he actually LURVES it! ūüôā And we certainly hope to go back there again, one day … to explore a little more the area.

Errr … but maybe in a different season lah, as I have seen pictures of the area in summer and it looks very pretty, too. And … not by taking the Glacier Express, either. No point paying the reservation surcharge, especially when the rate is more expensive in summer. But … more importantly it would take too long for us to reach St. Moritz, the Glacier Express way. Instead of the 5 hours that it would take us to reach St. Moritz via the direct route (i.e. via Zurich) … it takes between 8 – 9 hours via the Glacier Express route!! After all, the Glacier Express is claimed to be the slowest express train in the world!! So better to spend that extra hours to enjoy and discover a bit more of St. Moritz, don’t you think?

It was reaaaally unfortunate that we missed the Glacier Express on Sunday … and therefore decided to try and do the Glacier Express the following Monday morning. If everything had gone according to my intended plan … after taking the Glacier Express on Sunday, the idea was to explore St. Moritz a little before taking the afternoon train back home on Monday.

Buuuut … since we did miss the Glacier Express on Sunday¬†and so decided to take the Monday’s train back (which leaves St. Moritz at 9.02am) … we,¬†therefore, had very little time to explore the area. ¬†It was already dark when we arrived … and it was still quite early when we had to leave. So … given our limited time in St. Moritz, we thought it might be a good idea to walk to the train station so that we could see and get to feel a bit of the town of St. Moritz … instead of taking the bus.

This ¬†proved to be a BIG mistake on our part … because …

  • One – we overlooked the fact that the mum could not walk as fast … given her age and health condition … so she could not sprint to catch the train when we realised that we had very little time to catch the train.
  • Two – we got a bit engrossed (especially that person who is not me) with taking photos of the area … so we kind of overlooked the time a little, resulting in the last minute rush to try and catch the train.
  • And three – we ¬†did not check to confirm the exact way to the train station … so that we could have avoided taking the wrong turn which took us further … especially when we were already so near the train station!! arghhh …

Lots of “if” and “if only” … after we had missed the Glacier Express¬†… a second time! But we learnt and moved on … and hopefully try to avoid making the same mistake again, next time lah!

However, apart from causing us to miss the train … the hubby and I enjoyed the walk very much. ¬†If we had taken the bus, we would not have been able to admire the town as much. So … while it was upsetting to have missed the train a second time, I was still glad that we did the walk.

And really … St. Moritz ¬†is a lovely place to visit. Besides its health and therapeutic spas, its picturesque setting and magnificent natural surrounding plus the hives of activities (sports, cultural, shopping, etc… ), the place is¬†known for being dry and having a pleasant climate … (it is ¬†supposed to be one of the sunniest towns in Switzerland, with about 322 days of sunshine¬†a year). ¬†So unless you are really unlucky … you generally get to enjoy good weather when in St. Moritz … just as we did. Hmmm … no wonder it is one of the most famous alpine resorts in Switzerland … and the world, too! And in case you don’t know (well, neither did I until I heard the history during the Glacier Express trip and later read about it) … St. Moritz was where alpine winter tourism first started. That was way back in the 1860s.

And just so you know, it is located in the canton of¬†Graub√ľnden (Grisons in French) which is¬†Switzerland’s largest canton but one of the least populated. Besides St. Moritz, the other two world famous alpine resorts located in this canton are Davos and Klosters. ¬†In fact, this canton is also home to the country’s only national park. And Chur, its capital, is the oldest town in Switzerland (as the earliest traces of human settlement found in Chur date back to 3000 BC).

Now … of Switzerland’s four official languages, French is the only one not spoken in this canton. If you look at the map of the area … I suppose you could guess that beside German, Italian was the other language spoken in the area. And the third language, here? Well … its the fourth official language of Switzerland … called Romansch. However, this is a bit misleading because the term covers several dialects which are mixture of Rhaetic (language spoken by the Rhaetians, the first inhabitants if we leave aside the people from the Neolithic age) and Latin words.

And last but not least … Graub√ľnden is also the canton where the fictional character Heidi was born. So, if you want to see Heidiland … you know where to head to when you are here in Switzerland. ūüėČ

Okay … here are some photos of St. Moritz that we took that morning …

The St. Moritz Youth Hostel where we stayed.

We were lucky to find a room here … as most of the hotels in the area were pretty much fully-booked as winter is a peak season in the area for winter sporting activities. As the hostel was newly renovated and refurbished, it was very nice and clean. Unfortunately, since we booked quite late there were only rooms without toilet available. But the common toilet and shower room¬†(which are separate and meant for single person use rather than group) were very clean and conveniently located just outside our room. I think this is a much better system than the shared common toilets and shower rooms that are found in most youth hostels that I have stayed at before. And the price is good when you consider that breakfast and dinner is included. The best thing is that the bus stopped exactly in front of the hostel (during peak season) … a boon when you arrive at night with luggage!

And oh yes … as you can see there was plenty of snow in St. Moritz. I supposed there would have been more if not for the warm weather since beginning of the year. Nevertheless, there was still plenty of snow to enjoy. Nice¬†ūüôā

Since our room faced the forest … this was what we saw when we looked out the window in the morning.

And this is the spacious but clean dining and breakfast area …

… and the view outside from where we were sitting during breakfast.

This was just a few steps away from the Youth hostel … which is located at one end of the little town (nearer to the forest) … as we made our way to the train station.

A pretty area.

A running track (with football field) not far from the Youth hostel …

… all covered with snow … and which the hubby was eager to run on the morning before we left … as part of his ‘altitude training’ in preparation for the Geneva Marathon in May. You should have seen his wide dimpled smile after having done so! ūüôā

Why?? Because … many famous (marathon) runners have come here especially in summer for altitude training since St. Moritz is nestled 1,800m high in the Swiss Alps. So, he’s happy to be among one of those who have done so … even if its only once! Hmm … iye lah Ta …

The mum walking slowly … past the track … heading towards the town centre and the train station … which is on the right. You should also be able to see the ski piste/run on the Corvatsch (the mountain above the pine trees).

A closed-up shot. Every Friday, starting from December, the Corvatsch is illuminated by floodlight and opens the longest illuminated ski run in Switzerland from 7.00pm -1.40am. It is the longest illuminated slope in Switzerland. Hmm … must be a thrilling experience for skiers! If you like to see a picture of the illuminated ski run at night, click here.

But before reaching the train station … we had to … or rather we could choose to …

… cross¬†the frozen lake of St. Moritz … as a short cut. But first before crossing the frozen lake …

… we had to walk past a stone church located near the lake …

… and then crossed this bridge.

A picture postcard view of the church and a river … from the bridge.

The only part of the lake which was not frozen …

… or … maybe …

… because it has already started to melt because of the (much) warmer winter.

View taken from the lake … with the end of the famous¬†Ludains ice rink¬†on the far left (flat building).

Stopping to pose on the frozen lake with the mum.

And what becomes of the frozen lake … in winter??

Other than becoming the tournament ground for Cartier Polo World Cup….it also becomes the white turf for horse racing … isn’t it cool?? ūüôā

The White Turf International Horse Races (held over 3 Sundays in February) … has been going on since 1907! But since we arrived when it was already dark … we missed the race event on that Sunday.

Another view across the lake towards the direction of the train station …

… and the white tents that were put up for the White Turf event …

… which we saw on one of the¬†webcams when we checked out the area a few days before we went.

Houses and buildings on one side of the mountain slope facing towards Lake St. Moritz … with a cable car line (among the several near the area to ferry skiers up the mountain) seen above .

Two identical modern contemporary houses which looked more like two square boxes … easily spotted as one walks across the lake.

And there was the Glacier Express at the train station … so near and yet so far. If not for the wrong turn just before reaching the train station, we would have been on it!!

Oh well … it just means that we will have to try and do it again. So … there will be another trip on the Glacier Express to look forward to!! Yahooo … ūüôā

Other entries on St Moritz

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