Getting it together in Graubunden - Part 2
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It’s a measure of a close relationship when two names are
linked together and spoken in the same breath, and that’s certainly the case
with the Swiss double-delight of Arosa Lenzerheide.
The two villages in the Graubunden region are in adjoining
valleys and are just 2kms apart as the crow flies but the crow would have to
fly pretty high to make it, or take a lengthy trip by road and rail like the
rest of us.
The idea of connecting the resort areas has been around
since the early 1970s and now the dream is a reality, with the new Urdenbahn
cablecar connecting the Urdenfurggli in Lenzerheide to the Arosa-Hornli and
opening up a huge 225kms of prepared pistes with an amazing sunshine record.
But it’s still fun to go the long way round and spend time in the
long-established villages as well as on the slopes.
After sampling the sun and snow from the Lenzerheide
perspective, we grabbed our luggage and a tasty, farewell packed lunch from our
base at the excellent Kurhaus hotel and took the Post bus to the regional capital
of Chur, which is the oldest town in Switzerland and always a pleasure to
visit, before catching a train to Arosa, with a picturesque ride on the
dead-end line to the head of the Schanfigg valley.
By no means a dead-end village in any other way, Arosa has
long been an important asset among Graubunden’s 40-odd resorts, with a familiar
welcome greeting in the Rhaeto-Romansch dialect, “allegra!” when we reached the
imposing, top-notch Waldhotel National,
with its mantra of ‘feels like coming home’.
It was indeed a very warm, homely welcome, although my home,
I must confess, does not have a massive
feelgood oasis of a spa to pamper yourself in, and doesn’t always boast
four-star service with a never-ending supply of smiles we enjoyed from host
Christian Zinn and his team!
Set amid the trees a short distance above the village
centre, it’s a cracking base for exploring what Arosa has to offer, but it was
soon time to gird the loins and head off
for dinner at the Burestuli restaurant, with its ancient timber and
traditional green stove, described as the heart of the Hotel Arlenwald at the base of the Pratschli
Here, we enjoyed more local specialities and then made sure
we had a spot of antifreeze in the shape of a schnapps or two, before our
return to Arosa Obersee, the frozen lake in the centre of the village, using
another local speciality, a schlitten, or sledge. Not quite as lethal as some
other toboggan runs I’ve been on, as I once ended up in entirely the wrong
village while careering down ice-covered
mountain lanes, so we were not too sore or tired when we got down to
wander through Arosa and call off for a nightcap at Lindemann’s Overtime bar
The family-friendly village is not jammed with bars and is
no place for a full-on, apres-ski party animal, but Overtime was just fine for
us, with a live retro-rock band and fun bunch of customers that suited the wide
age spread of our group and helped set us up for the steep walk back to our
It was bucketing with snow after breakfast as we picked up
our skis and headed off to try the Arosa side of the newly-linked ski
‘circus’, aiming first for the lower
slopes of the Weisshorn and the Bruggerhorn, along with lots of weekending
Prominent avalanche warnings meant that taking care was the
order of the day, with dodgy visibility also tilting the equation as the snow
kept falling, building up so rapidly that the gondolas on at least one lift
were ploughing grooves through the drifts as they neared the top station.
A shame that more of the extensive slopes couldn’t be
tackled, because the Arosa Lenzerheide togetherness means there’s a vast amount
of skiing to be enjoyed, with stunning views on days into the bargain when you
can actually see more than a hand in front of your face.
Some brave souls persevered as far over as the Hornli, but
I’ve got to the stage, and the age, where I think I know my limits, and when
the old adage kicks in that when something stops being enjoyable, it’s time to
stop doing it.
It will come as no surprise to say that the thought of lunch
at the SIT-Hutte became very appealing;
and one of their renowned home-made burgers became even more appealing as the
weather showed no signs of relenting, making just getting around a bit of a
We eventually called it a day, dropped off our skis and
boots and made for our new HQ for the night at the family-run Hotel
Streiff, high above the village on the Sonnenbergstrasse and with amazing
views over the rooftops to the surrounding forests and peaks.
Just the sort of place to spend a few weeks, let alone a
single night, the hotel ‘where each day is as easygoing as Sunday’ was just
soooo relaxing as soon as we walked through the door, as promised by Lars and
Franziska Horal-Imhof and their team.
Not enough time, sadly, to fully take advantage of the
Edelweiss wellness area, with its sauna, steam bath and relaxing-room-with-a-view,
but a freshen-up was in order before dinner in the hotel’s own cosy stubli.
An aperitif and buffet-style starters paved the way for my
simple choice of pork cordon bleu with French fries and Vichy carrots, before
home-made chocolate brownie with whipped cream. Nice, and just enough to go
with a drop of Swiss wine and lots of conversation about how enjoyable
Switzerland can be and how affordable it can also be if you don’t set out to
live like a millionaire.
That being said, you’d be looked after like one if you
stayed at the Streiff, which has three stars to its name, but can certainly
compete with many a hotel with more.
Bedtime eventually beckoned, after allowing time to linger
on the balcony to look over the village as the snow drifted down, not-so-secretly
wishing that the roads and rail lines would be blocked and we’d have to stay
there a while longer.
No such luck, for clearance teams were already hard at work
when we surfaced the following morning, with glorious sunshine after a night of
constant snow turning the place into the sort of winter wonderland that might
sound clichéd maybe, but is never boring and never fails to uplift the senses.
A hearty breakfast, then a last wander through the village
amid the snowdrifts, before chilling out by the lake next to the railway
station where horse-drawn sleighs took the place of taxis for some delighted
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