27 June 2010
Cynthia and Kekoa felt the tour we had been doing up to this point was too easy for them, so they split off to go tour on their own in Italy for a few days.
Piaw, Lisa, and I left Pian San Giacomo and continued heading up the hill to San Bernardino. The road turned quite steep, and on the map it looked like a rat's nest in a few places with all the switchbacks. Once again, we were greeted with views of fields that were just shockingly green.
Soon we made it up to the town of San Bernardino, a couple of miles below the pass. It's a ski resort town, and not very interesting in the summer, so we rolled on through. Past the town, the vegetation thins out a bit.
At the top of the pass, there is a small lake, as well as a cafe. (Switzerland is a civilized country, so there's a cafe at the top of every mountain pass.) We stopped to have some coffee and tea.
On the first part of the descent from San Bernardino, there are numerous hairpins so one cannot go all that fast. After you get to the town of Hinterrhein, though, the path follows the river (also named Hinterrhein) down the valley, so the descent gets much more fun.
The scenery right after San Bernardino is quintessential Switzerland: wildflowers, little houses, and snow-capped peaks.
We stopped at Splügen for lunch, and caught Cynthia and Kekoa, who had just finished their lunch and were about to go up to Splügen pass (we were going to continue down the valley).
Lunch was unremarkable. Right after lunch, Lisa wanted to take a nap, so we pulled off the main road and found a shaded spot. Piaw and I went for a walk along a hiking trail, but didn't have enough time to get to anyplace interesting. When Lisa woke up, we continued along the bike path along the south side of the Sufnersee, from which we could see Sufers, the town along the opposite side.
Past the Sufnersee, the Hinterrhein runs through a gorge, and the descent is very exciting, as the road goes through a few tunnels and over some bridges to follow the gorge. In the middle, we stopped at the Gasthaus Rofflaschlucht and paid the 3 CHF entrance fee to see the waterfall, but there was not much to see, and the place was very touristy.
We decided to end the day in Andeer. The Post Hotel put us up in what was apparently their family suite. One of the rooms in our unit was filled with children's toys.
Andeer is a strange little town. The whole town is paved with cobblestones. Though there are a few streets in the town center, we only saw people hanging out at our hotel and the place next to it. The rest of the town was deserted. I gather it is busier in the winter.
We ate dinner at the hotel. And here I feel compelled to make a public service announcement for lactase-challenged people traveling in Switzerland. You have to read between the lines when you're looking at the menu. Menu items that mention cheese are either drenched in cheese or cooked in cheese. Menu items that don't mention cheese are merely covered in cheese. There is no concept of moderation when it comes to cheese. After all, recall that the Swiss invented fondue.
There are some famous mineral baths in town, and the hotel sold us discounted tickets, so we went there after dinner. The baths were very relaxing. And the facilities are quite impressive compared to American facilities. I'm convinced that European engineers (or is it German engineers?) really know what they're doing. Even the locker rooms are laid out to maximize the flow of people. (There is a whole row of little changing booths, and each has two doors, one on the side leading to the entrance, and one on the side leading to the pool. The design is reminiscent of blood vessels. There's even a mechanism that locks both doors to the stall simultaneously.)
After the mineral baths I slept very well.
Up | Next: marvels of modern medicine, and a detour into Liechtenstein