Friday, August 12, 2011

Day 16: Zurich to St. Moritz Bad

I woke up around 4:45am so XiaoQin and I could catch the 5:00am bus to the airport for her 6:45am flight. While at the airport, I noticed that there was an option for checking in the luggage the evening before (Air Berlin calls it the "late night check-in", but since it started from 7:00pm until 9:00pm, it was hardly late at night). This normally cost 5CHF per person, but both Phil and I had the TopBonus service card so we wouldn't even have to pay that fee. This would eliminate all the stress of getting in line first thing in the morning and would get us an extra half hour or so of sleep.

Once XiaoQin was safely into the hands of the Swiss equivalent of the TSA, I went back to the hotel and started researching trains to St. Moritz. Last year while in the Canadian Rockies, I met Petra Fassler, who had several hikes to recommend in the area, and looking at Arturo's photos also from last year, it definitely seemed like a place worth visiting. The earliest train left at 10:00am, so I woke Phil up, we repacked our bags on the assumption that we would ship our hiking clothes and shoes back to the hotel, and headed off on the 4 hour train journey.
From Tour of the Alps 2011

Even the train ride was spectacular, hinting at the possibilities to come. The train tunneled through mountains on high bridges and gave us high views of the surrounding villages. Unfortunately, the closer we got to St. Moritz the worse the weather. By the time we got to St. Moritz proper, it was mostly overcast with a hint of blue sky.
From Tour of the Alps 2011

I had previously booked the youth hostel at St. Moritz because it was cheaper than the other youth hostels (which didn't include a mountain train pass), and because I was worried that arriving on a Friday, we'd have a hard time finding lodging. I asked at the tourist information center where the hostel was, and it turned out to be at the far end of St. Moritz Bad (the town). We first went to the supermarket to have lunch, then rode over to the hostel. The hostel had WiFi, complementary lunch and dinner for the price of the stay, laundry facilities, and a bike locker/ski room. It was too late to do any serious hiking, but the hostel staff suggested walking over to Pontresina.

The walk led us through a forest with an exercise circuit and various other accouterments. It started raining right after we started walking. We had brought a long our rain gear and hiking umbrella, so we were good to go regardless.
From Tour of the Alps 2011

At the far end, we got to the Pontresina train station and rather than walk back the same way in the rain, decided to hop onto the train and catch a bus afterwards. Since we had half-price cards with us it was relatively cheap to do so. We stopped by the supermarket again to stock up on drinks so we wouldn't have to pay the outrageous youth hostel prices, as well as lunch for the next day, as we planned to spend most of the day hiking.

That night, we discovered that we would not be alone in our room, as they hostel had assigned an elderly Japanese gentlemen to our room. As far as we could tell, he only stayed in bed during our whole stay. We would talk to him and he would claim that he went out and went places, but he was always in bed when we left and in bed when we came back so we could never tell.

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