Visit to Viamala Gorge, Mineralbaths & Splügen. After indulging in a few delicious pfirschsteines in Chur (see Grand Tour Part 1), we jumped on a train out to Thusis, where we caught the postbus to Viamala, a gorge as deep as 300meters. The postbus ride itself is worth the visit– the road winds right beside deep chasms! At the base, the Rhine river still naturally cuts through the rock. While most of the Rhine’s power has been used for hydroelectric energy, here, the remaining water flows freely through the gorge, which has taken the past 10,000 years to develop into the impressive ravine.
In fact, Viamala receives its name from its original moniker “The Evil Road”, given to it by those hikers and cattle drivers who used to tread the treacherous trail. Following a (modernized and much safer) path down into the gorge from the Viamala visitors’ center, we saw incredible rock formations, boulders, potholes, and various shapes scoured into rock by the Rhine itself.
Back at the top of Viamala, the center doubles as a cafe; we enjoyed a coffee, then went on a hike across Wildener Bridge, on a footpath that lead us to a small suspension bridge crossing the Rhine. This bridge, Punt da Suransuns, is easily accessible from Viamala, and adds even more adventure to the hike, especially if you like heights, and a bouncy crossing!
The perfect following to a day of wilderness adventure was to immerse ourselves, literally, in the natural mineral bath at Andeer, which is a short 10 minute ride away. We checked into the Mineralbad Andeer, where we were able to completely unwind, letting the healing nutrient-rich waters completely relax our tired muscles! The spa has an indoor and outdoor mineral bath area, plus a sauna, dampfbad, massage, and fitness, for complete wellness treatment. We opted to spend most of our time in the outdoor mineralbath, with nearly 360 degree view of surrounding mountains. Jacuzzi bubbles, waterfalls, lounge areas and a refreshing aroma make this bath a place of pure pleasure. (Bathing suits are mandatory for the bath, so don’t forget to pack yours!)
From there, as if our day weren’t fantastic enough, we traveled 10 minutes farther south, to the historic town of Splügen, a place that has won awards for its historic preservation and charm.
The Hotel Bodenhaus was our destination, and we were warmly greeted at the door by Willibald Löschl himself. Willibald and his wife Angela have owned and operated the hotel since 2000; the building dates back to 1722, and certainly was one of the original hubs of the village. Angela, who grew up in nearby Thusis, knows the area well, and wanted to have a hotel where the guests could discover the natural wonders. She and Willibald first met at a Swiss hotelier school. Their training is evident: the Löschls made us feel quite comfortable, inspired, and right at home with their genuine care and practical advice about what to see, do, and explore.
We stayed for dinner in the hotel restaurant, and were thrilled to dig into the savory fall vegetable medley… Imagine a plate of pumpkin, Brussels sprouts, chestnuts, beets, cabbage, mushrooms and other seasonal delicacies, grilled and seasoned to perfection. We also tried a local traditional dish, rösti and sauteed spinach, drizzled with a special Graubünden cheese… delicious!
The next morning, a light drizzle didn’t stop us from heading outside to explore the surroundings. Instead of hiking, we went running on a path beside the river, heading southwest along the Hinterrhein, passing several waterfalls, covered bridges, cows grazing in their pastures, and other fanciful sights along the way. We ran unencumbered, without even a watch or iPhone– just ourselves and the trail beside a babbling emerald river, mountains flanking either side of the trail. Quite the sport, in a natural playground.
Whether fall, winter, spring, or summer, this region offers innumerable activities, both relaxing and energetic, for all ages to enjoy. Families and groups can come here and choose to stay in hotels, or rent out a flat and stretch out in a home away from home. In truth, once we arrived, we didn’t want to leave! When we reluctantly checked out of the hotel, we decided on impulse to opt for the longer train ride back to Zürich, circling toward Davos, so that we could glimpse even more majestical views on the way. Traveling over the gravity-defying bridges took our breath away– the special pass over Landwasser Viaduct is not-to-be-missed.
The trip to Graubünden is remarkable in every way–and, we recommend it as a region of intense discovery and renewal. The beauty is that every Zürcher could venture to these places anytime there’s a free couple of days– it’s just that close!
Article & Photos by Zuri Girl Caitlin, a mindfulness consultant, writer, speaker, photographer, educator, and leadership coach. Curiosity-driven, she investigates research in neuroscience, technology, and AR to promote compassionate, empathetic experiences on a global scale. She founded the organization MindWise, which focuses on fostering best mindsets in business and education leadership, applying mindfulness to the modern age. Find her on Twitter @MindWise_CK
Article experience was supported by Switzerland Tourism. The site www.MySwitzerland.com provides excellent resources and vacation inspirations.print