The next morning we awoke bright and early and after checking out of our hotel (conveniently located inside the train station!) we hopped on the southbound train that would take us to Switzerland via the Rhine Valley. As we chugged south from Cologne, snaking along the Rhine River until Mannheim, we were spoiled with view after view (or as Dan calls them, “brochure photos”) of medieval hillside castles, towns full of colorful A-frame chalets, cruise boats, vineyards, and campgrounds perfectly situated to look out over the languid water of the Rhine.
As we passed into Switzerland and the tracks hugged around Lake Zurich, the views around each bend grew more stunning than the last. Across the expanse of water you could see stand up paddleboarders, kayakers, and sailing boats out enjoying the sunny skies. After running parallel along the lake, we whizzed by sky high waterfalls from the melting snow off the mountains, farm houses, and miles of fir trees. The area reminded me of the stretch of highway that runs through the Gallatin Forest between Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Big Sky, Montana from a road trip Dan and I took last June through the National Parks.
After seven hours of rocking side to side (no small feat when the the drinks cart is nine long carriages away!), we pulled into the station at Chur and found solid ground under our feet again. On this early Pentecost Sunday evening, the streets of Chur were eerily empty of people and Dan and I felt like we were walking through a ghost town. Where had this train dropped us off at?? I imagine come high tourist season though in July and August the town comes alive with fellow Europeans enjoying a Swiss holiday in the mountains.
As it was near dinner, we set off in the direction of the Old Town in search of some regional Graubunden cuisine, good local hearty food popular with the peasants after a long day of toiling up in the mountains. The concierge at our hotel recommended two restaurants to us, Zum Meczgercor and Zollhaus, the oldest restaurant in Chur. Given that Chur is reputed to be the oldest town in Switzerland, does that then make Zollhaus the oldest restaurant in the country? We pondered over this question as we dug into regional specialties such as capuns and pizokel, potato pasta covered in cheese with sausage. It’s definitely stick to your ribs and put you in a food coma kind of cuisine!
Its a good thing Dan and I had carbo loaded on such hearty fare for dinner since we had a full day of hiking along the stunning Rhine Gorge planned for the next day. Join us soon as we lace up our boots and hike around Ruinalta, the Swiss Grand Canyon!