A wet weekend in Arosa's cosy surrounds

It's August, and blindingly cold and wet, yet somehow the weather doesn't bother us a jot. We eagerly gaze out beyond our balcony into the fog that is disguising all but the nearest buildings in a silvery soup, and picture the jolty summits that must be up there somewhere. The lake, petrol-blue-toned and sultry, occasionally merges into view.

Inside, we're warm and snug. Our base is the brand new Hotel Valsana Arosa, a superbly eco friendly (it's powered by an ice battery, imagine!) and eclectic four-star superior, where Aztec blankets are thrown over industrial chic furnishings, William Morris-upholstered armchairs snuggle up beside leather sofas and beds are so superbly irresistible you never want to climb out of them. (Full review for The Telegraph coming soon).

We do, however, drag ourselves out, and climb through Arosa - a resort burrowed at 1,800 metres above sea level among summits and glaciers in the Schanfigg valley of eastern Switzerland - up onto chalky moorland where some of Europe's most poisonous flowers grow. Among them is aconite, a deceptively beautiful blue bloom. Cow bells shrill across the damp fields, breaking the eerie mood set by the gloom. We pass the two Praetschseen lakes - upper and lower - before a pretty woodland path dotted with black squirrels brings us back to Arosa. 

There's a lovely delicatessen on the main street - Cindy's, run by a super friendly local who treats customers to little freebies like creamy chocolate coated almonds as they browse the wares. We can't resist some Graubuenden pear bread and a wedge of organic Arosa mountain cheese, and then later supplement our purchases with Arosa nut cake - a variant of the region's speciality, this one with a cacao-flavoured pastry.

Hurrah for a view the following morning, when we awake feeling light and bright after a healthy organic evening dinner and an excellent night's sleep free from those irritating electronic red lights so popular in many hotels. Our balcony, which rather marvelously features a hammock, is now gazing out at a stunning mountain panorama featuring the Weisshorn, which we later plan to cable car it up (it's free with the Arosa card given to all guests). And we do, after surviving a mobility-enhancing personal training session in the hotel, including some rather painful fascia rolling.

The season's highlight on the Weisshorn is the brand new Arosa Baerenland just outside the cable car mid-station, which is home to bears rescued from across Europe. The first tenant is Napa, a brown bear so pale he is thought to have descended from a polar bear. He had never felt grass under his feet before arriving at the sanctuary, which is a gorgeously large space with ponds, meadow and woodland, after being kept in a circus in Serbia and forced to dance. I found it far too upsetting to read the panels at the centre about his former life, but was cheered to see him basking in the sunshine just beyond the viewing platform, looking for all the world like a contented Steiff teddy. Informative games told me I would weigh 250kg as a winter-weight brown bear, or that bears can be up to 90% vegetarian and eat vast quantities of honey, or even that bears hate getting their ears wet (who doesn't?).

Later, on our way home, we gaze out of the train window at the impossibly steep valley around us, where turquoise reservoirs slumber beneath moraine-strewn flanks and trees grow at impossible angles, disguising elegantly perilous viaducts. Such is the scenery of Switzerland, and thank goodness the cloud has lifted for us to enjoy it now.

© Emmy in Switzerland | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig