by Olivia Estrada – Contributor
Famed and fabled around the world for its variety of sights and experiences, the Swiss Alps stretches across Switzerland, found in 17 out of the 26 cantons that make up the country. My love affair with them is a series of hits and misses through different points.
In Lucerne, I spent but a few hours on top of Mt. Pilatus to enjoy the view of Lake Lucerne. I got there by riding the steepest cog train in the world and went down via a nerve-wracking cable car ride.
In Jura, I wasn’t able to see the mountain range due to the fog so we settled for a mountain slide and a serving of Rivella.
This year, I was lucky that my encounter with the Alps was an overnight stay at Muottas Muragl. The peak is located in the canton of Graubünden and takes half a day’s train trip from Basel.
Muottas Muragl’s adventure starts far from the summit. To get to the top, you pass the Rhaetian Railway in the Albula / Bernina Landscapes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that bears witness to the man’s ingenuity.
The railway opened in 1904, zigs and zags through the mountains with 42 tunnels and covered galleries plus144 viaducts and bridges. The Bernina pass line has 13 tunnels and galleries and 52 viaducts and bridges.
The numbers might mean nothing to you. So let me put it this way: It’s a train ride where you see bridges as tall as buildings crossing mountains and piercing through them via tunnels. The ascent takes you to scenes you’ve only seen in fairy tales: lush fields of wildflowers, running rivers that snake between pine trees, and lavish farmlands.
At the end of this train ride, a vertical train called the Muottas Muragl Bahn gradually takes you past where the trees grow: 2,454 meters above sea level to Romantik Hotel Muottas Muragl.
Here, I kept taking my glasses on and off. I thought someone rolled out a vast photo backdrop from the clouds. It was too perfect.
On one side, you see the valley town of Engadin made of several lakes and includes St. Moritz, the spa destination of the rich and famous. If you look around, you see but the neighboring mountains, one even more majestic than the other. If it wasn’t a well-printed backdrop, I was probably trapped in laptop screensaver or a postcard.
At Muottas Muragl, you are free to walk around the trail which the melting snow reveals for as long as you can. Viewing points are scattered around to help you see nearby summits. Day chairs are also left around if you just want to relax.
White wild Alpine flowers that bore the frost on their petals cover your footpath. A makeshift pool looked like a giant bowl of boba from the frogs, working hard in the summer sun.
It’s a challenge to walk around so pack a pair of good hiking shoes. I wore my Fitbit Versa Lite that day. It helped me track the temperature and how well I was doing on my walk.
Other than that, I was cavalier as I wore a dress sans leggings. It was June, and the weather was just at a chilly 19 degrees. It was days before a big heatwave hit Europe. That’s how I survived. Otherwise, don’t try it.
For true daredevils, Muottas Muragl is a popular point for paragliding. A few whizzed by as we were hiking, taunting me that I have yet to experience another facet of the Alps.
At night, we settled in the restaurant which could probably serve so-so food because they have the beautiful mountains to drink in while you dine. But they didn’t! I choose the romantic dinner menu of veal, sorbet champagne, and rhubarb pie. Between this and the thought of waking up on top of the mountain, I was indeed full.
As for the rooms at the Romantik Hotel, they’re homey and rustic, using only the wood from the trees that grow below. They give off a unique scent that will forever remind you of your stay. You get a potpourri bag filled with this wood as a thank you gift upon checking out.
After my stay, I’m sure it won’t be my last encounter with the Swiss Alps. I’m looking forward to the next meeting, perhaps this time to conquer skiing!