Powerful Pontresina

Pontresina is situated in the Valley Bernina, a side valley of the Engadin. It is the only village in this side valley and is surrounded by many mountains, mostly over 4000m high like Piz Palü, Piz Bernina, Piz Zupò, Piz Languard, Las Suors.

Pontresina was first mentioned at about 1137. The origin of the name of the village is not confirmed, it could derive from the Latin Ponte sarasine, after the name of a builder of a bridge but could also mean bridge of the Saracenes.

There are about 2500 people living in Pontresina, most of them speak Rumantsch, a specific language of the Engadin and Graubünden. But there are also a lot of Portuguese people working and of course living there. The children experience school in Rumantsch and German as well.

Pontresina was voted the guest-friendliest holiday place of Switzerland in 2012. If you are getting hungry by walking around in Pontresina, I recommend Grond Cafe with menus but also delicious pastries from their own bakery. In the evening you could eat at Kochendörfer, very elegant and superbe fish specialties.

In Summer, you can do wonderful hikes and watch ibexes, especially in the earlier Summer.


There are a lot of hiking paths, they are very well signed-out with the yellow signs of the Swiss Hiking Paths or just watch out for the white-red-white mark on stones or trees.

In Winter you can do crosscountry skiing, normal skiing, ice climbing, hiking, walking… Continue reading

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Chalandamarz – driving out of the demons of winter

Chalandamarz happens every 1st of March and is a rite of spring dating back to ancient times, maybe even to Antiquity. It is practised mainly in the Upper and Lower Engadin (also in Val Müstair, Bregaglia, Val Poschiavo and Oberhalbstein). 

Chalanda is the Romansh term for “first day of the month. It stems from the Latin word calandae. Marz means March. 

On this day, in earlier times, the chairman of the community, the district secretary and the treasurer were legitimated. 

Schoolchildren walk on this day, dressed in costumes in bright, lively colours through the villages wearing their bells (boys) and flowerbaskets (girls). Sometimes, they carry whips with them and show their skills with the whips. The cracks produced by the whips are supposed to scare the spirits of winter away. 

The paper flowers for the bells and costumes are produced quite a while before Chalandamarz. They are called rösas and are  carefully made of silk paper. In some villages, there are strict rules how the paper flowers have to be made, in which colours, who has to make them and to whom they can be given. Mostly the girls create the rösas for a boy they like (their crush) and also invite him to lunch for the next day. But also the younger children craft the flowers in school or kindergarten, one flower for every year of life.

  
There are even several kind of bells: Talacs, Plumpas, Maruns, Brunzinas, Zampuogns and Rolls (Bell details). 

   
The schoolchildren walk around in the villages, around the village fountains (have a look at the famous book A bell for Ursli) and go into the houses to ring the bells to drive out the demons of winter. Sometimes, if you ask them, they sing a song and they appreciate it if you give them in return some sweets or some money for their school excursions.

  

At a certain time, they gather at a designed place (in St. Moritz: parking space Du Lac) and sing several traditional songs for the crowd, consisting of tourists but mostly parents and relatives. 

  
Here you find the text for the most famous and popular song: Song text. You can find also some explanations and pictures from earlier days (in German and Rumantsch). 

  

Shopping possibilities in St. Moritz (that are affordable)

For all those ones, who are like me and are looking for the special, authentic shopping experience, here a list of my favorite, highly recommended shopping places to go in St. Moritz!

1.  Bakery St. Moritz Bad: they don’t only have yummie pastries and breads but also little gifts and  give aways for all those ones with a sweet tooth. Website only in German. Via dal Bagn 4.

2. Souvenir Shop in St. Moritz Bad: you look for a wood carved ibex, a Ursli with the bells memory game or a Switzerland key chain or St. Moritz hoodie, they have it all and much more. Via dal Bagn 54. 

3. Wega Bookshop in St. Moritz Dorf (Village): all kind of books, maps for hiking or biking, cards, gifts, stationary goods. Website only in German. Via Mulin 4.

4. Jill & Giorgio is a secondhand shop in St. Moritz Bad with clothes, shoes, bags and belts for women, men and children from famous brands like Prada or Moncler for a reasonable good price. Most of them are in a very good shape and some are even brandnew! Via Tegiatscha 1.

5. Studio03 is the address if you are on the hunt for cool hoodies, beanies, shoes, pants, t-shirts or sweaters for skiing, snowboarding or surfinsg (and yes, there is a surf paradise in Silvaplana in summer!) or just chilling out. Via Rosatsch 1. 

This is my personal opinion and I am not sponsored by any of these shops.
  

What to do in St. Moritz when it is snowing (or very rarely, raining)

I have to admit, there is nothing nicer than staying at home or inside when it is snowing, but when you are in holidays you want to profit of every moment and enjoy it. 

So get up, wrap yourself warm and get ready to explore!

Here my suggestions for a snowy (rainy) day:

1. Rent a fatbike at Engadin Bikes. You get there everything you need (to rent or to buy) like helmet, gloves, pants or shirt. Brett, the owner of the shop, can recommend you the best routes!

  
2. Go for a walk around the lake, on the lake (in winter of course) or to lake da Staz and combine it with number 3

3. Have a nice cup of hot chocolate, a tea or coffee with a piece of nut tart (Engadiner Nusstorte) at Restaurant da Staz or Restaurant Hanselmann. The nut tart is a traditional sweet, caramelised walnut filled pastry with a buttery crust. Really yummie 😀

  
4. Visit a museum: Segantini MuseumBerry Museum and my favorite, special museum Milli Weber Haus (website only in German, but I think the tours are also in English). Giovanni Segantini is an important representative of the Symbolism at the end of the 19th century. His paintings are very impressive. You can walk on the Segantini path (it has 6 picture panels providing interesting facts about the artist) starting at Hotel Soldanella to the Segantini Museum and continue to Suvretta. 

  
The Berry Museum is next to the Clinic Gut. Peter Robert Berry was a doctor and painter, he was inspired by Segantini he knew personally. 

Milli Weber was an artist who lived in the house (built by her brother and father) that is now a museum, located at the edge of the wood on the Dimlejstrasse just above the eastern end of lake St. Moritz and is almost obscured by trees. Milli Weber not only made fairy-tale paintings in frames but also decorated nearly the whole house (even the bathtub!) with little flower fairies in all colors, cute bears and self-made dollhouses.

5. Have a swim at the Ovaverva Swimming Pool (indoor and heatet outdoor).

A walk on the lake of St. Moritz

A popular smalltalk subject in St. Moritz in wintertime is the freezing of the lake of St. Moritz. When will it happen? Will it freeze at the right time for the special events on it?

This year I could observe for the first time which parts of the lake freeze the last and which don’t freeze at all!

As soon as the lake seems to be frozen is the next question: When is it safe enough to go for the first walk on the lake? Best thing is to wait the pistmachines on the lake working. 

Every walk on the frozen lake is exciting: The crunchy sound and the very bright colour of the snow, breathing in the clear air, the whole scenery of the lake, the mountains, the forests, the (hopefully) blue and sunny sky and the busy preparation for the coming events like Snowpolo and White Turf.

Just try to listen in a quieter area to the bubbly, “whaley” (reminds me always of Dory from the movie Nemo) sound coming from the lake, a very fascinating experience!

Just some words to the coming events like Snowpolo and White Turf: Go and have a look at it, there aren’t only the Rich and Famous, everybody can from certain parts of the lake observe these events. If you’re lucky and have a ticket for a tribune, don’t forget to dress really very warm, because it get’s really cold especially when there is a nice snowstorm 😀

Safety rules: Stay where other people are, don’t walk too close to edges where you see water and walk on paths that look used by a lot of people. 

Have fun on the lake and enjoy it!