(This post follows St. Niklaus to Chur – Part 1 posted on 21 Jan 2017)
We were fortunate to find a government tourism office. (I might have said this before but it’s really amazing that small towns and villages in Europe have official information offices!) The lady there was very helpful. Apparently, we weren’t too off our route; we had taken a right turn earlier than we should have. She gave us a map and guided us how to get back on the track and even told us about a nice restaurant not very far. She also informed us that the GPS navigation system might have thought that Furka Pass was closed (which is usually the case in winter) and hence must have led us to Furka Base Tunnel.
Within minutes, we were back on the road to Chur. We spotted the restaurant the lady at the tourism office had mentioned – Rhonequelle. This was the only restaurant we could eat at; all others were either closed or would get closed by the time we could reach them. It was also the last restaurant one would encounter for a long time.
Rhonequelle was like an oasis in the desert. It seemed to be a popular spot for motorists. Many bikers too had stopped there. Rhonequelle had a restaurant and an outdoor bar. We sat outdoors. The menu was not in English. But the waitress was very patient and helpful. We told her that I am a vegetarian and she explained to us the dishes we could try. Vinod ordered a fondue dish and I think I ordered pasta. We ate very well.
Just as we stepped out of the restaurant, a quiet pond caught my attention. There were many trees around it and a small path that led up the hill. It was indeed tranquil. It was so close to the main road yet seemed so apart in time!
What came next became the most adventurous part of our trip. We had no idea what driving on Furka Pass would entail. It turns out that Furka Pass is a long winding road with many hairpin bends. We were neither expecting it to be so challenging nor were we prepared to handle it. I was driving slowly because I was trained to drive at 40 kmph along the bends. But the others, seemingly used to this road, were constantly overtaking us; even the bikers! But, as a reward of sorts, as we kept driving up the slope, the view below kept getting more awesome! We stopped at Belvedere for a photo-op!
We continued driving on roads that although were main roads, looked like streets what with churches and houses lining them. We were giving way to fast vehicles and dodging onward vehicles on the narrow lanes. The windings were not ending. We had started to get tired.
A little later, we stopped again to fill petrol. Now, this too was a challenge for us! In the UAE, we are not used to filling up petrol ourselves. Here, we had to fill it up ourselves. But first, we had to pay at a machine. I don’t have the patience to decode new things specially when I am tired. Hence, Vinod could not give up. I think the machine did not have instructions in English. A very kind man working in the garage nearby helped us to complete the process. We couldn’t thank him enough.
After a long drive, we reached Chur. By the way, it didn’t impress us. It had a commercial feel to it; very unlike the holiday feel which the rest of Switzerland gives. But, our journey was far from over. Our hotel, as it turns out, was not in Chur but in Arosa which is further 40 kms away. Then, we remembered that when we had searched for hotels in Chur and this particular hotel had showed up, at that time, we had thought that driving 40 kms more would not be an effort. But that day, we were very tired. We estimated that it should take us 40 minutes to reach Arosa and that comforted us.
But the road to Arosa was a bit confusing. On one road, we were driving on the tracks! And a bus or a tram was coming from the other direction! Vinod was scared. But I was confident that I had taken the right road. We discovered I was right when the bus took a turn and there were several other cars following me on the tracks!
The road to Arosa was also uphill. It went winding around the mountains. I was driving slowly. In addition, there was some roadwork going on. That further slowed down our speed. I was dead tired. I couldn’t wait to get to the hotel. We felt that we made a mistake booking a hotel in Arosa. It was a long drive; what made it even longer were the sloping routes, the roadwork and our stops at Munster, Oberwald station, an unknown place, Rhonequelle, Belvedere and at the petrol station! Phew!
Finally, we reached Hotel Seehof (booked through booking.com) around 6pm. We checked into a junior suite; it was big with a seating area, a big balcony and a kitchenette. But I didn’t like the views from there.
We went for an early dinner at the hotel’s in-house Cuculouche restaurant. The restaurant had many guests; some of them seemed to be local residents. We were not surprised, why. The restaurant had a lovely decor and a warm feel to it. It had an interesting variety in mocktails but not many options in vegetarian food. We finished our meal quickly to retire for the day.