in late may, we (again) visited val bregaglia for another very nice vacation. the weather was great, except on monday when it snowed. we stayed once more in vicosoprano. we did some hiking from soglio to castasegna, and from castasegna to chiavenna:
we stayed during the first of the two “chestnut weeks”, dedicated to edible chestnuts which are growing all over the valley. except on the day we arrived on and the first half day, the weather was really good!
we again visited the chestnut forest in castasegna:
and we walked another part of the via panoramica, this time from soglio, and then descending to stampa:
also, again, we enjoyed some great culinary specialities. in particular, we enjoyed several meals (again) at hotel corona, where we also had the opportunity to meet the goats producing the milk for the wonderful goat cheese, which is part of our favorite tomato goat cheese salad. also the different pasta and meat dishes we had were fantastic. yeah well. if it wouldn’t be so far from here (5-6 hours by public transport, depending on how often you want to change trains), i’d guess we’d go there more often ;-)
the beginning of the trip, from chur to st. moritz, is similar to the last part of the glacier express train ride (starting in zermatt), following the albula line, and then follows the bernina line via the bernina pass to italy, peaking at 2253 meters above sea level.
we were lucky and the weather was (once again) quite good – which was quite some luck: on the day before, where we originally wanted to go but didn’t got a reservation, it was raining like crazy. the panorama carriages were once again nice, though taking photos is still quite a challenge thanks to the reflections which are almost always there. but hey, we were there to enjoy the views, and not to make great photos. (that’s for some other time. there’s a lot of beauty out there, for example the morteratsch glacier which we could watch while driving by.)
anyway. the second main part of the trip, the express bus from tirano to lugano, wasn’t as good as we hoped – i always feel kind of squeezed in a bus and am looking forward to leave it :-). the views were nice, but the next time i’d still skip that part.
most of the time, we had fabulous weather, except two rainy days and one pretty cloudy day.
the first hike we did was going by postauto up the maloja pass to maloja village, walking from there to the giant’s kettles nearby and from there to the belvedere tower, and then down the pass towards the san gaudenzio ruin and finally until casaccia, from where we continued by postauto.
this is the first leg of the via bregaglia route. this leg is really nice, with some glimpses over the valley (for example, at belvedere tower, and above casaccia, where you have a good view on the albignia lake dam), a lot of forests and shade, and nice rivers. parts of it go quite steep downhill, but even for untrained beginners as us, it was quite manageable.
the second bigger hike we did was the via panoramica (the yellow path there) from the power plant löbbia towards northwest of vicosoprano, from where we descended back down to vicosoprano. near the power plant, we saw a sign forbidding arnie to walk on the water:
whyever they put up that sign… crossing the bridge from the löbbia stop to the other side of the water basin, one enters the via panoramica and can continue to roticcio and from there on to eventually soglio. we left the path somewhere northwest of vicosoprano. (if you have a map, it’s the leftmost path leaving the via panoramica descending downwards to vicosoprano.) this is a really beautiful hike, with lots of nice overviews over the valley and on the mountains.
another day, we took up the cable car to the albignia lake dam. one can also hike all the way up or down, but i think that one is a bit over our capabilities… so instead, we enjoyed the little tiny cable car. on the top, one could still find patches of snow, and one has a beautiful panorama both over the valley and over the lake.
unfortunately, on that day, it was pretty cloudy, so we decided to not hike to the albignia hut (that’s something we’ll do next time…), but take the cable car back down and hike from there back to vicosoprano:
one day, we took the postauto up to soglio, a cute mountain town:
afterwards, we returned by postauto to promontogno and had dinner there.
another trip we did was to visit castasegna. they have a beautiful chestnut exploration path, which shows how chestnuts are planted, harvested and dried. also with a chance to buy honey from around there at a self-service stand.
back in town, we bought some drinks and met a nice cat with wonderful blue eyes.
after being in castasegna, we visited chiavenna, the largest town in val bregaglia, ending the valley at the italian side. we had dinner there, but unfortunately, the restaurant we chose didn’t start serving dinner before 19:00, and the last postauto left short after 20:00…
in vicosoprano, we stayed in hotel helvetia, a former hotel west of the city. while parts of it are used for offices, the other part is rented as holiday flats. it is equiped with a simple kitchen for self-catering, and without much luxury features everything one needs to have a good week there. and in case one is too lazy to cook for oneselves, there are two hotels with restaurants in town, for example hotel corona, where we had three excellent dinners.
last weekend, we were in south tyrol. we arrived on thursday via postauto via the ofenpass, and the first thing we did was visiting glurns for a couple of hours. glurns is a small municipality with many medieval remains:
afterwards, we continued to merano, where we stayed until sunday. unfortunately, on friday, the weather began to be pretty bad; it was raining a lot and most of the time, the sky was gray. only on saturday it started to brighten up. on saturday we took the chair lift up to tirol and from there continued up to hochmuth. the sky was still pretty cloudy, but after some time, it started to brighten up. some clouds began to rise past, and after returning back to tirol, suddenly the sky began to really clear up. we walked part of the apfelweg and part of the weinweg, and finally returned to merano via chair lift. this time, with the weather beautiful, the view from the chair lift was just gorgeous. finally, we walked to the passer river and followed it to our hotel. see some photos here:
yesterday, i again used my ga to explore a bit of switzerland (and italy). i decided to use an offer by the sbb to drive up the cimetta, a mountain next to locarno at the lago maggiore. the weather report for most of switzerland wasn’t very good yesterday, except for the ticino, whence i ended up there. at ground level it was rather foggy, but when climbing up the mountain by cable car i eventually got out of the sea of fog. around the cardada station, the final destination of said cable car, wasn’t too much snow, but still enough left to take a lot of snow photos! later i took the chair lift up to the top and had lunch there, as well as took out my laptop (which i carried with me all the time… i really need to get a netbook!) and worked a bit. that was a funny moment, sitting over 1600 meters over sea level, surrounded by snow, while programming. i guess i have to do that more often :-)
finally, i took the train to domodossola, operated by fart (ferrovie autolinee regionali ticinesi). the train ride is really beautiful. unfortunately, i had to shoot all photos through the window, which resulted in not so great ones… anyway, there are a few i really like:
i didn’t stay in domodossola, due to being tired and its getting dark outside, so i hopped onto the next train to brig, going through the simplon tunnel (about whose construction i read a novel called simplon some years ago). eventually, 14 hours after my departure, i arrived back in zürich.