Saturday, January 29, 2011

Graubünden Adventures

Last weekend we went to Laax (canton of Graubünden) with a few friends and coworkers for a pleasant ski weekend. I must say that it was my first weekend ever since I got back to Zurich, and while I wouldn't have minded to be home a bit (!), I greatly, greatly enjoyed the time spent with friends as well as the majestic landscape. Not so much being sore after a day of skiing, when I hadn't worn my skis for about three years...

We left Zurich on Friday afternoon, and, already at the Hauptbanhof, I lost my travelling companions! Here's how it happened: it was entirely my fault, because I decided to stop for a cigarette before getting on the train, and we agreed to meet on the train on the way to Chur. Natürlich, we got separated: the train was very full and we didn't see each other, but talked on the phone and agreed we'd meet on the platform or on the bus Chur-Laax. From the time the train arrived to the bus leaving time, there was exactly a 6-minute time span, so we had to run. Of course, not knowing exactly where I was supposed to go, I ran on the opposite direction to where the bus stop was, and ended up missing the bus! No big deal, because I had plenty of time to get to Laax before dinner time, but it was already dark, I had never been there, and somehow I had to explain to my German-only speaking bus driver to please tell me which stop I had to get off at to get to the hotel. I know it doesn't sound like a huge deal, except that, as I said, it was pitch black outside, and the stops were quite far one from the other, in the middle of nowhere. I thought it would suck if I got off at the wrong stop, with no one around, and even if there was any soul around, they probably wouldn't speak any English. Worst case scenario, I thought, I'll find someone who speaks Italian or French, which shouldn't be too hard, or just guess my way through the labyrinth of understanding/speaking Swiss German...Well, to cut a long story short, I was able to somehow successfully communicate with the bus driver in some mixture of undefined language, met a couple of nice Rumantsch-speaking old ladies on the bus (the Rumantsch sounds a bit like the spoken dialect of my neck of the wood in Northern Italy), and made it successfully to the hotel. Moral of the story: cigarettes are bad for you, hehehe...

The first night we had dinner and then went dancing and it was a lot of fun, but I left quite early (1:30am) because I really wanted to ski the next day. On Saturday morning, we wake up and there is a very nasty snow storm coming down, we can barely see anything for the fog, but of course we are not deterred, and armed with skis, ski boots, helmets, and goggles, we head up the mountain for a day of fun. Let me tell you that I hadn't skied in more or less three years  - and the last time I was in Tahoe on a very easy slope, so nothing comparable to the intensity of skiing in these slopes, on top of the very bad snow condition and snow storm - and because I was in Italy in the past few months, I didn't really go to the gym, so I was both out of practice and out of shape. I had fun and it was good to be back in the snow, but I took it easy and at the end of the day I was as tired as I could be.

In the evening, taken by snow trucks, we went up the mountain and went to an outstanding restaurant, Grandis Startgels where, after an aperitif, we had a four-hour dinner. The chef, who spoke Italian and is awesome, delighted us with an avocado mousse with shrimps, cranberry sauce, pumpkin chips, meat roti, salad, green risotto with fish, a selection of cheeses and jams, three types of desserts, coffee, and the unforgettable main course: polenta enriched with cheese and cooked directly on the burning fire, and four types of fire-roasted meats: lamb, chicken, filet, and deer. All accompanied by cascades of excellent red wine. I was in Heaven. I never wanted to leave again. Actually, I want to go back and "hide" there for a few days, hiking, reading, and eating, assuming they let me. Needless to say, I did not go out that night, but straight to bed after dinner...I was done.

The next morning, some people left early, but the day was sunny and beautiful, and perfect conditions for skiing. Except that I was so sore I couldn't even dream of wearing my skis, so instead I had breakfast and then went on a hike around the mountains with my friend. We walked all the way to Flims, where we had a nice hot chocolate and I tried for the first time Capuns. Delicious.

Then, we made it back to Zurich later that afternoon. I must admit I really liked Laax and Flims, and canton Graubünden in general: people are super nice, they speak Italian, and they definitely know how to cook! Added bonus, the landscape is breathtaking.

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