The Quintessential Swiss Mt. Village (with a whole lot of wood!)

On a recent weekend getaway with my husband to a small Alpine village in Switzerland’s southeastern region of Graubünden, I realized three things:
1. You can never take enough photos of flower boxes, old stone water fountains and crooked timber houses
2. I am obsessed with the way the Swiss keep their wood
3. You could spend a lifetime trying to visit every picturesque village in Switzerland

Splügen, Graubünden, SwitzerlandSplügen, Graubünden, SwitzerlandSplügen, Graubünden, SwitzerlandSplügen, Graubünden, Switzerland

Off to Splügen we went, about two hours from Zürich, south of Chur.  In the Rheinwald (Rhine Valley, not really a forest), it’s a village that has seemingly not aged over the past few centuries (minus the one television in the entire village we finally found, in order to watch Swiss tennis icon, Roger Federer, play at the Olympics).

Splügen, Graubünden, SwitzerlandSplügen, Graubünden, SwitzerlandSplügen, Graubünden, SwitzerlandSplügen, Graubünden, Switzerland

Our home for the weekend was the Alte Herberge Weiss Kreuz, sitting atop the village, its white stone facade drawing your eye away from the rest of the dominating, dark timber structures and slate roof houses.  A legendary address in the area, dating back to the early 14th century, the Weiss Kreuz received praise in 2002 for its “extremely careful restoration and historic preservation of an old mule-track inn.” (It was destroyed in a fire in 1716 and rebuilt soon thereafter, but the most recent renovations began in 2000.)

The only ones without hiking boots outside of our door, we realized it is now a rather popular rest stop for hikers in the region, which is well known for various hiking trails and the Splügen Pass, marking the Italian border.  (We’ll return to the hotel in the future for those trails for sure, simply when I’m not 8 months pregnant.)  The Weiss Kreuz had an expertly mix of original wooden structures, stark white stone, gray slate, vaults, a cave-like bar and discreet modern design touches all throughout.  Traditional, charming and refined.

Splügen, Graubünden, SwitzerlandSplügen, Graubünden, SwitzerlandSplügen, Graubünden, SwitzerlandSplügen, Graubünden, SwitzerlandSplügen, Graubünden, SwitzerlandSplügen, Graubünden, Switzerland

Back to my aforementioned obsession with wood… Talk about Swiss precision !  I was simply captivated by how every single house in this village had the most neatly arranged (and impressively large) stacks of wood.  What some Swiss children may see as a chore, I saw as a piece of art.

Splügen, Graubünden, SwitzerlandSplügen, Graubünden, SwitzerlandSplügen, Graubünden, SwitzerlandSplügen, Graubünden, Switzerland

Even though the sun sadly didn’t join us for the weekend, and our hopes for a picnic in the mountains remained unfruitful, the gray (and pouring rain) added a certain mystique to this peaceful, medieval setting.

Splügen, Graubünden, SwitzerlandSplügen, Graubünden, SwitzerlandSplügen, Graubünden, SwitzerlandSplügen, Graubünden, Switzerland

The lack of picnics had us pleasantly surprised, discovering the auberge’s restaurant, with a menu listing only the most typical, local dishes of the area: Bündner Gerstensuppe (hearty barley soup), capuns (meat-stuffed chard leaves) and Bündnerfleisch (dark red air-dried beef).  And there were still treats to be enjoyed on the train and bus rides, including Splügen’s local cheeses and dense breads.  A small dairy sits at the entrance to the village below, its shelves packed with local specialties – butters, yogurts, grains and more.  And you will not be at a loss for options of where to buy your slice of Bündner Nusstorte.  Every bakery puts its own personal touch on this dense, caramel nut tart, mostly associated with the Engadine region.  We got ours warm off the baking racks (below) at Bäckerei Winker, with just the right amount of buttery tart crust and sweet walnut filling.

Splügen, Graubünden, SwitzerlandSplügen, Graubünden, SwitzerlandSplügen, Graubünden, SwitzerlandSplügen, Graubünden, SwitzerlandSplügen, Graubünden, SwitzerlandSplügen, Graubünden, Switzerland

With a tart so dense, it’s no wonder everyone is off hiking for hours…


My Splügen Addressbook

Alte Herberge Weiss Kreuz (part of Swiss Historic Hotels)
(at the very top of the village)

Bäckerei Winker (bakery)
Bodenhausplatz 12

Sennerei Splügen (dairy)
(look for the Milch sign at the bottom of the village)

Splügen, Graubünden, Switzerland

19 Responses to “The Quintessential Swiss Mt. Village (with a whole lot of wood!)”

  1. Rosa says:

    Lovely clicks! I love Graubünden (my BF comes from this region) and Nusstorte.



  2. Emma says:

    It’s a shame about the sun, but there’s really nothing like rain and mist to bring out the mystique in a place. What a beautiful set of photos!

    The locks on the door of your room are very pretty pieces of machinery. And that wood! Such artwork, it would make me hesitate to use it come winter:)

  3. zorra says:

    Thank you for taking us with you, and now I am homesick! 🙂

  4. Yeye says:

    What a beautiful story! I love the way Swiss germans organize the wood. So precious … Thanks Kerrin for sharing your lively experience, as always …
    This is Yeye from France passing through your home town center (very close to banhofstrasse!) A special hello to you then 🙂

  5. Kerrin says:

    Rosa, that is my favorite area in all of Switzerland. How wonderful to have family from there ! And I bet they have their own very special Nusstorte recipe too 😉

    Emma, thanks ! In all honesty, the rain didn’t bother me (even when I got caught in an outpour !); the weekend was all about relaxing and quality time for me and the hubs. Oh, and loved that door lock too – so cool, right ?!

    zorra, my pleasure ! Come *home* and visit then ! =)

    Yeye, and thank *you* ! What a fabulous, sunny day to be in Zürich, enjoy !

  6. valentina says:

    What a great post! I felt as if i was there. I’m obsessed by locks and that picture just had me in awe, like a kid, staring at that little wonder. I do have recollection of always eating great bread when spending a week rowing training in Sarnen. The swiss do beautiful bread in my opinion. I’ve never seen anything quite like wood in those houses. Wow! that’s quite something. A good walk will work out a great apetite. Geat walk plus great cheese.

  7. Kiki says:

    Hi Kerin; you show me part of my home country I don’t know at all. When I still had a family with kids, we often stayed in Grison/Graubünden with other families, but I was never in Splügen. You make it really sound like a place to visit – notwithstanding the lovely, lovely food! My darling son Daniel is living in his chosen ‘home country’ in the Bündner Mountains and he’s happy as a bird. I also absolutely adore the local specialties like Bündner-Nusstorte, the tasty strong mountain cheeses, the dry cured beef Bündnerfleisch (I even buy it here in France), and a special fave of mine are the capuns – mjam mjam
    Your photos are wonderful and just so tempting – one feels like taking the Bernina Express and put on the hiking shoes…. Just had a long, long phone call from my Bündner Son and might send him this link although he doesn’t speak English…
    Happy continuation with your pregnancy; you’re soon taking the ‘Endspurt’ – be happy and relaxed, rain or no rain – if you love reading like me, you will never have a dull moment.
    Much love

  8. Samantha Angela says:

    Thanks for linking to those traditional recipes. I’d like to try making the capuns. Is it like a bread stuffed inside them? The recipe on the website looks like it has the meat mixed with a dough.

  9. Kelleyn says:

    Congratulations! Hopefully, you will give us a little peak at your new addition.

  10. Kerrin says:

    valentina, I totally agree – the Swiss do excellent breads, so many cereals and grains, all so hearty and with varying textures. Love to taste them all, from region to region. And how perfect for you that must have been – lots of nutrition and energy for rowing ! 😉

    Kiki, thank you ! Indeed the end is near… couldn’t be happier (not that the end is near, I just mean in general !) and now attempting to relax – it’s on the to-do list, haha ! You must tell your son to visit Splügen then ! And if he loves it, you can come visit and go back with him !

    Samantha, I have a feeling it’s one of those recipes that every family makes differently… different meats and/or sausages and like you mentioned, with or without bread too. I’ve never made them myself though. They’re a special fave of Kiki’s above — maybe she’ll share a recipe with us 😉 Here’s another one for you:

    Kelleyn, thank you so much ! 🙂

  11. Lane says:

    The word “quaint” should be reserved for places like these.

  12. Nina says:

    What an awesome photographer you have become…..the way you connect the pix with the food and the land is incredible! You make me want to visit even though I’m not much of a traveler! P.S. I also can’t wait to meet your new addition….can’t wait!

  13. Amanda says:

    Hi Kerrin! Great photos, as usual. How did you discover this little gem? And really — only one television in the whole village? Amazing! Despite the weather, it looks like you had a lovely get-away. 🙂

  14. jkiel says:

    This made me remember our overnight in Flims, to the north, and how we have always said we need to go back to that area….thank you for the reminder! (and lovely photos too, you talented artist!)

    Good luck with the new one, too!

  15. bao-kim says:

    Dear Kerrin,

    This is totally off subject, but I did not know who to ask, I hope you dont mind. My husband and I are planning to go to Salon du Chocolat in Paris this October for our anniversary. I am also preparing an album for us, and hope to collect lots of souvenirs. I know I can purchase the tickets online, but that means it will be printed on paper. I was hoping to get one of the “postcard” colored type of ticket or is it an invitation? Do you have any idea how I could get those, I would appreciate any advice you could give me. I live in the United States, therefore have no access to the French shops where tickets are being sold. I have enjoyed your Blog very much and learned about the Salon du Chocolat through you:)

    Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon,

  16. Coco says:

    I’ve just come across your blog (I write a fairly new travel/language blog and was looking for similar blogs to read!) and I have to say, I’m a fan. 🙂 I’m half-German, and these photos look so much like Germany (especially the wood!), it made me really homesick to look at them! I’d love to visit Switzerland one day. I’ll definitely be reading your blog. Thanks. 🙂

  17. Kerrin says:

    Nina, why thank you !! Hey, it runs in the family… 🙂

    Amanda, thanks ! I think I read about this place in a French magazine a while back, ripped out the page immediately and put it in my “wish folder” ! So exciting when we actually do things from that folder ;))

    jkiel, you’re very welcome ! But most of all, thank YOU !

    Coco, danke ! So glad you discovered MyKugelhopf ! Thank you for your comment, and hope you’ll continue to enjoying reading…

  18. A Lady's Life says:

    Such a wonderful place to visit and live.

  19. Leanne says:

    Beautiful photos, I agree that you can never take enough photos of those cute homes!

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