Monday, September 8, 2008

Kurhaus Bergün, Switzerland

On our way back to Zurich from Poschiavo we stopped in the village of Bergün (German). It's located on the Abula line of the RhB - Rhätische Bahn. A friend had recommended that we visit the Kurhaus Bergün (German). The hotel is about a five-minute walk from the train station.

A Kurhaus is a hotel where you go for a "cure" or rest. Most of them are associated with mineral baths, medical treatments or simply relaxing for a couple of weeks in a natural environment. It's a pretty nice idea.

The Kurhaus Bergün is a beautiful Jugendstil building built between 1905-06 by the Zurich architects Jost-Franz Huwyler-Boller (who also built several other famous hotels). The hotel seems to have fallen on hard times and a group of regular customers decided to try and save it. They are restoring the hotel slowly and the work so far is really excellent.

We decided to have lunch on the sunny balcony (overlooking mountains). The restaurant has a relatively limited selection, but the food is "bio" and comes from suppliers in the region. I had a wonderful "toast". In most places a toast is like a grilled cheese wonder bread sandwich, but not here ... tangy mountain cheese served between two thick slices of homemade whole grain bread ... shows how good simple food can taste when you use quality ingredients. I washed it down with a Monstein Hausbeer (the Monstein Brewery is located in the adjacent valley near Davos). It was a great lunch.

Bergün is the start/end of the Abula railway history trail up to Preda. The Abula line was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 2008. The trail has panels describing how the Abula rail line was built. It is a fun, although fairly strenuous, hike. The best idea is to start in Preda - then it's downhill to Bergün. They are also building a railway museum at the Bergün (German, very nice website with information about the Abula line) station but I am not sure when it will open.

There is also a ski lift in Bergün and swimming pool. The skiing looks like it would be good, but it's not a large area by Swiss standards. Another unique attraction in the winter is sledding from Preda to Bergün (German). They close the road, well, snow actually closes the road, and place hay bales on the worst curves, you rent a sled at the RHB railway station in Preda then sled down to Bergün. It's quite a trip. The Swiss National Railroad's Railaway program has special offers for people who want to make this trip.

All in all, Bergün has a lot to offer.

Here's a video of the sled ride!

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