The passengers on the train from Chur to Bever thought Justine and Chris Tyerman were crazy ... but the Kiwi couple blended in well among the other outdoor fanatics at the trendy, three-star Bever Lodge, Switzerland's first hotel built using an innovative modular wooden construction technique.
My limited German came in handy the day we set out by train from Chur to Bever Lodge in the high Engadine Valley. I recognised the word 'spät' which means late, something that seldom happens with Swiss trains.
But the 'drei Minuten zu spät' or 'three minutes late' meant we could catch an earlier train and spend more time in the spectacular mountain region of Graubünden.
I knew the UNESCO World-heritage section of the famous Glacier Expres would be thrilling but I wasn't prepared to be quite so overwhelmed by the landscape.
We never sat down in our seats but stayed at the back of the carriage where I could open the windows to take photos without disturbing the other passengers.
We spent the entire two-hour trip leaping from one side of the carriage to the other trying to capture vertiginously-high viaducts, deep gorges, swirling rivers, turquoise lakes, castle ruins, glorious autumn colours, bright blue skies, majestic mountain peaks and impressive hydro-electric dams.
The highlight was the 65m-high, 136m-long, six-span Landwasser Viaduct between Tiefencastel and Filisur. I nearly fell out of the train window trying to get the perfect shot. The other passengers thought we were crazy.
Our destination, Bever Lodge, is ideally located for those travelling by train or bus — it's directly across the road from the railway station with a bus stop in front.
The near-new establishment, Switzerland's first hotel built using an innovative modular wooden construction technique, was prefabricated and assembled on site.
The trendy, three-star, modern lodge opened two years ago and is already a big hit with hikers, bikers, skiers and families seeking close-to-nature, active, outdoor holidays rather than glitzy nearby St Moritz.
Soon after we checked into our spacious, modern suite, we headed for the mountains with maps and a tourist information app in hand, courtesy of Andrea at the reception desk.
She also gave us free public transport cards, walking sticks and sunblock. Very thoughtful.
We caught a bus to the Punt Muragl Talstation and enjoyed a thrilling trip up the mountain to Muottas Muragl in the historic 1907 funicular, the oldest in Graubünden.
Basking in the warm autumn sunshine at 2454 metres surrounded by magnificent mountains, lakes and glaciers brought tears to my eyes and made my heart soar. I was awe-struck ... lost for words. Our fellow lunchers were bemused at the tears.
In the valley, a cluster of lakes sparkled like sapphires strung on the necklace of the Inn River. In the distance, the stunning snow-covered Bernina Massif and the Morteratsch Glacier gleamed in the sunshine. Beside us, hang-gliders were taking off with whoops of excitement and hikers were beaming with joie de vivre on a perfect autumn day in the Swiss Alps.
We didn't think life could get much better — but then we set off on the 7km Panoramaweg, one of the most beautiful walking tracks on the planet. The path took us around the side of Schafberg mountain, through larch woodlands and across mountain streams beneath the towering peaks of Piz Muralg (3157m) and Piz Languard (3262m).
Hikers sitting outside a stone alpine hut waved to us. Their hefty packs suggested they had done a more arduous trek than ours. Our path was mainly downhill, a blessing at this altitude where even the slightest climb had us puffing.
We stopped midway at the picturesque little Unterer Schafberg for the sheer novelty of coming across a restaurant on a mountain track. By the time we reached Alp Languard two and a half hours later, it was late afternoon and the air was starting to chill so we caught a chairlift down to Pontresina and a train back to cosy Bever Lodge. So easy, so Swiss ... and free.
* Justine and Chris Tyerman stayed at Bever Lodge in Bever, Switzerland: www.beverlodge.ch
* Switzerland Tourism: www.MySwitzerland.com
* Swiss Travel Pass: www.MySwitzerland.com/rail
* Rail Europe: www.raileurope.com.au / www.raileurope.co.nz
* Full story published at https://travelmemo.com/
Justine and Chris Tyerman stayed at Bever Lodge in Bever, Switzerland: www.beverlodge.ch