Weeks before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic crisis and before the Swiss government partially shutdown the country, we had our last holiday trip in St. Moritz. It was the first week of March and it feels like ages ago.
We were supposed to go to Kiruna, Sweden for Aaron’s birthday in late February to catch the Northern Lights. But at that time, COVID-19 has already started becoming a global health crisis. Italy went on lockdown already and confirmed cases were starting to emerge in Switzerland. So, we decided to travel locally instead. I chose St. Moritz because I wanted to bring Aaron to the bar with one of the largest whiskey collection in the world – Devil’s Place Bar.
Geneva to St. Moritz is a 5-hr drive or 7-hr train ride. There’s no means of flying there, unless on a private plane. St. Moritz is close to the borders of Switzerland and Italy.
On our way go St. Moritz, we decided to cut our drive with a beautiful Sunday brunch buffet at Clouds in Zurich. This building used to be the tallest building in Switzerland, until recently. Brunch in Clouds is on the expensive side (about CHF 65 per person excluding hot drinks and alcoholic beverages) but the you get to have a panoramic view of Zurich and have an excellent buffet options.
After having brunch in Zurich, we continued driving. Finally, at around 3 pm, we’ve reached St. Moritz. For our accommodation, we stayed at the Hotel Waldhaus am See. This is the same hotel that houses the Devil’s Place Bar. It is one of my favorite hotels in Switzerland. It’s not a 5-star hotel but it is perfectly located next to the St. Moritz lake – it is a bit of a walk to the town center though but the hotel provides shuttle services. It has a really good restaurant, a beautiful view of the mountains, clean and well insuated roms (for winter), and excellent guest services.
After checking in, we decided to not just rest in our room. We took a sunset walk on the frozen St. Moritz lake. I’ve never walked on a frozen lake before this. The walk was so peaceful, beautiful, and really cold.
After our sunset walk, we went back to the hotel and had an aperitif at the Devil’s Place. Aaron was like a kid in a candy bar! They had over 2,500 whiskey collection. After our fair share of whiskey tasting, we moved to the restaurant for dinner. This restaurant has a “whiskey pairing menu”. Aaron tried it but I went for the regular menu with wine.
I’m a morning person so, this come it handy when we travel because I get to see the sunrise. On our second day in St. Moritz, a crazy snow storm was forecasted. I was actually looking forward to see some fresh snow because it didn’t really snow in Geneva this winter. Anyway, I don’t know if it’s the weather or sunrise really looks like this during winter in St. Moritz, but the sky turned pink/purple at sunrise.
For our second day, we went to Muottas Muragl to snow shoe. We knew that there will be a heavy snow fall but we didn’t realize it was going to be a snow storm. It started snowing when we were at the cable car on our way to the starting point. 10-15 minutes after we started walking, it started to snow pretty heavily. Half way through our hike, we could barely see anything except for the guide poles. We got caught in a snow storm on top of the mountain and it was scary. Still, we managed to find our way back to the cable car station.
For dinner that night, to celebrate Aaron’s birthday, we went to IGNIV at the legendary Bradutt’s Palace Hotel. St. Moritz is also home to Michelin-starred restaurants. Igniv is a Michelin 2-star restaurant with a unique “sharing” concept. We had the 6-course meal plus truffles and another add-in (I can’t remember) and with wine pairing. We enjoyed every dish and every wine a lot. This restaurant experience is not to be missed when visiting St. Moritz!
Day 3 was our drive back to Geneva. We left St. Moritz after breakfast since we weren’t sure whether there were road closures because of the snow storm. For lunch, we stopped by Vaduz – because we were quite curious about Liechtenstein. We got back in Geneva before 6 pm. We were tired but had a blast.
As we went to bed that night, Aaron and I talked about our upcoming crazy travel schedule in the next 3 months. I was supposed to travel for work to New York, Cairo, then holiday in Kenya, then Indonesia and New York again for work. We were talking about how after the St. Moritz trip, Easter in Kenya will be our only travel together and we won’t be able to see each other a lot. Little did we know, we weren’t going anywhere in the next 3 months… not even outside Geneva. Without a doubt, this pandemic has changed our lives and many have been gravely affected. For me, it’s not all negative. COVID-19 has forced me to slow down and spend more time with the most important person in my life.
As many countries are easing up their measures on COVID-19, there’s one thing that I agree with most post-crisis analysis – traveling will never be the same (or at least for a very long period of time). Traveling local will most likely be the travel trend for some time. So, if you’re looking for a local travel in Switzerland, try St. Moritz!
How about you? What was your last travel before the COVID-19 global pandemic crisis?