Swiss Grand Tour: Chur

posted on | updated on | by Zuri Girl

Zuri Girl recently ventured on a 2-day tour through the Graubünden region.

We’re thrilled to share our favorite moments with you and wish you happy travels as well!

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Ready to Travel

One of the best parts about Switzerland is the close proximity to nature. This has its flip side: if nature is right at our doorstep, sometimes we’re less inclined to move past the yard, so to speak. There’s so much going on in the local space of canton Zürich, and we can easily feel like a tourist for quite a while (if not forever, if we focus on the curiosity and delight aspects!), with a Swiss holiday or special seasonal festival to discover every week, it seems. 

Yet, as soon as we venture farther into the countryside, it gives even more perspective. The range of natural wonders, all contained within one country, becomes even more apparent, amplified by the landscape. We can appreciate this natural immersion, gain insights, and return to our bustling home refreshed.

Now, if that sounds like a script from a wellness retreat, it isn’t intentional– this is naturally the feeling we had after two days in Graubünden. Gloriously rugged, the terrain of the largest canton in Switzerland is as striking as it is humbling. One can feel quite small, and or lose the self completely, when surrounded by the majesty of nature in Graubünden. 

This is the land that Thomas Mann wrote about in his classic book Magic Mountain. Without giving away the story (which, frankly, can’t be properly summarized), truly, this world could be and contain everything.

Let’s start at the very beginning (…a very good place to start!).

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Stop 1: Chur

Our two-day trip began in Chur, a quick one-hour train ride from Zürich. Chur, in the heart of Graubünden, is said to be the oldest civilization in Switzerland: evidence of humans permanently settling there dates back to 3,000 B.C.E.  And, because Chur is in the valley, close to the Rhine river and several other sources of water, it’s a prime location with a temperate climate that’s protected from extreme elements. 

We had the chance to walk around with local expert, Hans, who knows many gems of stories and kept us laughing and thoroughly entertained the whole time. Hans made the history humorous and fun; this, in turn, made us remember all about Chur, and feel like an expert ourselves (though we’re certain this is a false impression).

In Chur, we walked around the historic old-town, seeing exquisite buildings with mostly either Art Nouveau “Liberty style”, Federal Style (think of Bern’s House of Parliament), or the local historical style of architecture, with wooden accents and frescoes on the sides of buildings. Chur, not surprisingly, has three churches, each with beautiful interiors and religious artifacts dating back to the 14th century. The city itself still has houses constructed in the 15th century– we saw one from 1456, which still looked robust and ready to stand another half-millenium.

Hans also showed us “the most dangerous street”, as he called it, lined with specialty shops selling cheeses, cured meats, chocolates  and pastries. We sampled delicious Birnbrot (pear bread, which tastes dense and sweet– nothing like the dry fruitcake that haunts American holidays) and a mysterious treat called Bündner Pfirsichsteine, which looks like a small peach pit, but tastes like a sweet melt-in-your-mouth spiced marzipan delight. The special recipe is a secret, so visitors have to try for themselves.

While we visited on a weekday and had a marvelous time, Chur is also an excellent weekend destination– the bustling Saturday open market is not-to-be-missed!

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Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Grand Tour…Viamala Gorge, Mineralbaths & Splügen

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Caitlin KrauseArticle & Photos by Zuri Girl Caitlin, a Bostonian by birth who writes and teaches in Zurich. Poet, photographer, and running coach, she finds inspiration outdoors, swimming in the lake and hiking in the Alps.  Having lived in Belgium for two years, she is building her credentials as a chocolate aficionado in the land of Swiss Bliss.

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Grand_Tour_of_SwitzerlandArticle experience sponsored by My Switzerland. The site www.MySwitzerland.com provides excellent resources and vacation inspirations.