• Engelberg
  • Engelberg – Food & Drink Edit.

    Tiina Kivelä Engelberg

    Long time no stories. Sorry for that, it’s been a bit too much lately. But now, since my very nice sunny free days last weeks resulted in many nice hikes and – unfortunately – injured ankle, I have time to get on to the first top tips for Engelberg.

    And because I mainly hike (and run and ski and bike) to eat ( a lot and well), I thought it would be good to start with the best end points for nice tours in the sunny side of the Engelberg valley. Also known as the Brünni and Fürenalp side, with the south faces and sunny terraces, with great mountain views and trails for many kind of activities.

    As an extra, I’ll also tell where you get the best coffee in town. Good deal, right?

    Brunni – The Sunny Side of Engelberg

    First of all, there’s Brunnihütte at 1860m, SAC mountain hut & restaurant, which can be reached by foot, bike, skis in winter. For the not so fresh legged ones its also reachable by Brunnibahn and one additional lift from the Engelberg town. Up near the hütte, you also find easy category Via Ferrata and good hiking and other activities for the whole family. And from Brunnihütte itself you may get a bed, breakfast, lunch, dinner, beer or just cake and coffee.

    Also note it’s accessible by lift (normal ticket CHF29 one way, CHF44 return) so especially on sunny days the place and especially terrace may get crowded (for which I have a better restaurant tips below).

    Tiina Kivelä Engelberg

    Tiina Kivelä Engelberg

    Below Brunnihütte and a bit above the village there’s Flühmatt restaurant, my current favourite one. Accessible by foot, bike or skis in winter it offers great food and drinks and excellent terrace with great views to Titlis & co.

    Flühmatt is also fairly close to the Ristis station of Brunnibahn, yet I do recommend earning the food and drinks by hiking, biking or skiing.  From here, you may find the best Älplermagronen of the Engelberg area (haven’t tested them all but well I have tested many all over Switzerland and this was definitely the best one of one of the most iconic Swiss foods you can get) enjoyed alone as a single portion or as a shared bowl for the number of the party.

    Flühmatt Engelberg Tiina Kivelä

     

    Fürenalp – Difficult Via Ferrata & Amazing Panorama

    Moving from Brünni further on the valley to Fürenalp (1850m), yet staying in the sunny side, you can hike up past Alpenrösli and Stäfeli (offering also restaurants and cheese) in the Surenpass direction, or take the difficult category Via Ferrata all the way to the Fürenalp bahn top station and restaurant with the same name.

    From here, you may also get the Älplermagroni but also Chässchnitte aka Käseschnitte aka lots of cheese on a bread with ham and wine and egg. And of cours many kind of drinks, coffee and cake and Kaiserschmarrn, the traditional fluffy pancake dessert of the alpine region (the Kaiser- name comes from the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph 1).

    Even though also accessible directly by cable car, I really recommend first doing the hike, via ferrata or bike, and only then the food stop (to gather enough appetite for these heavy yet yummy specialities). After the well deserved break, you may then save the knees and very well fed belly taking the Fürenalpbahn down to the valley floor (payment in the valley station, CHF14 one way, CHF19,50 return, ski/hiking season pass is valid in here) or stay the night in the mountain hut.

    Engelberg Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä Engelberg

    Tiina Kivelä Engelberg

    Apéro ! The Best Swiss Food Related Tradition

    The Italian Apero is known almost everywhere, but very few know that Switzerland has the similar aperitivo tradition, which I have taken to like a lot. In apéro, there’s traditionally local finger food like bread, cheese and various meats, pickled cucumbers, wine or other apéro drinks and good company gathering for the afterwork, pre dinner or just to have some snacks together. And while the traditional time is after office hours before dinner, around 5-7pm, you may also get quite similar for lunch or afternoon snack, with the names like Regionale Trockenfleischspezialitäten mit Bergkäse.

    Normally swiss apéro is best when shared, but after injuring my ankle I have also taken it as my solo event, on side of keeping my foot up and enjoying the good weather in my balcony. Unfortunately ,I have no pic of the excellent ones you find in the Swiss restaurants (in Engelberg try the one from Zum Schweizerhaus restaurant a bit outside the village centre) so you have to deal with this one from my “don’t know how long I stay in this place so no point decorating this” balcony.

    The wine and almost local mozzarella from the nearby Entlebuch biosphere were excellent though.

    Swiss Apéro

    But First & Last & In Between – Coffee

    Engelberg’s in Switzerland, but it’s also one of the most Swedish places on earth. And while Verbier is the higher class Stureplan Swedish place in Switzerland (pardon my raw characterisations), Engelberg is the hipster cousin.

    With cute Swedish boutique hotels, real skandinavian ski bums (more than one Finnish too) and Swedish owned excellent coffee roastery with cool graphics aka Roastery Engelberg.

    You may get the coffee (drinks) or beans or coffee makers (no nespresso here) from their own shop in Dorfstrasse, or spot the coffee served in local hotels and restaurants and  too homes. The latter only if you’ve been invited or have your own here though.

    Comes with climbing and skiing and other outdoors chat, like every good mountain coffee stand. Oh and Nitro Cold Brew. The best trendy thing happening to coffee right now (my own honest opinion).

    Tiina Kivelä Engelberg

    Tiina Kivelä Engelberg

     

    Ps. Don’t Forget The Local Bakeries

    You may have your own favourite trail snack but yet I would recommend you always check in every village your (hike/bike/run/ski/whatever) tour starts, passes or ends the local bakery (or bakeries) in addition to the restaurants and coffee stands.

    For the best bread and croissants (mandelgipfeli for me in zentralschweiz). This way everyone wins – you get a delicious local snack and the local bakery gets enough business to thrive, hopefully year round. Which kinda goes to any local product and service there is, in your hometown or favourite resort and activity destination.

    The local the better.


    Where: Engelberg (map) : Brunnihütte / Flühmatt / Fürenalp / Roastery Engelberg / Bäckerei Stöckli for the bakery 

  • Appenzell
  • Alpinwanderweg Marwees – A Mental Exercise

    Tiina Kivelä

    From a movie I watched recently I picked up the sentence go beyond your body’s complaints. In there it was said by a person with not so good intentions, but for me, it pretty much sums up most of my exercises and mountain endeavours, in a good way. And for me, it’s going beyond both the body’s and mind’s complaints, especially when doing things by myself.

    I did the season’s first alpine hike on this Saturday, on a mountain called Marwees in the Alpstein massif in Appenzell, which offers a nice ridge and about an hour of demanding alpine hiking route, alpinwanderweg (further explanations in here), with excellent views (if you manage your nerves well enough to pay attention to them). And it was definitely a tour which brought me beyond my body’s and mind’s complaints.

    It was steep, it was narrow and it was challenging, and it was more than once I thought why did I come up here, head all dizzy and legs a bit shaky. But in the end, I did it, and even though the legs were mashed especially after the final downhill (total 17,5km, 1199m up and 1199m down, 6h) it was again one of those things which brought me forward, mentally and physically and trained my nerves.

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    For the same tour (note that it’s demanding and only for the very experienced hikers) go from Wasserauen (in Appenzell region in Eastern Switzerland) to Seaalpsee and head up to Meglisalp from there. Then, turn left and up from the tiny settlement and in the crossroad of paths on the shoulder choose the blue-white path leading to Marwees (or well the exact mountaintop stays in the left while you continue the path on the right side to the ridge) and eventually to Bogartenlücke and back to Wasserauen.

    On this tour, many were passing me another way round, so I guess it’s good (might be even better) the other way round. That way, you also have the excellent chance to continue the bluewhite path to and over Hundstein and from there down to Fälensee.

    This time, as it was a very hot day, I did a little detour in the last section, to dip sweaty myself into the Seealpsee, which that time of the day around 6 pm had gotten rid of most of the day tour and picnic crowds and was just enough cool to give a brief remedy to the aching muscles and joints.

    Extra tip: Alpine routes aka the alpinwanderweg are extremely good for the skilled ones during the high season since the easily reachable sights like the Seaalpsee normally have almost (just almost though) too many people on the paths leading to there and back. This time lack of funds also kept me away from the cable cars, which is another good way to avoid time wasted in lines and crowded paths (and save money and get extremely good exercise). 

    And if you wonder, that wagon over there is the station bar in Wasserauen. One of the cutest I’ve seen in my adventures. 

     

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    The trip was easy. It was no more dangerous than crossing the street, or driving to the beach, or eating peanuts. The two important things that I did learn were that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be, and that the most difficult part of any endeavor is taking the first step, making the first decision. And I knew even then that I would forget them time and time again and would have to go back and repeat those words that had become meaningless and try to remember.

    © Robyn Davidson – Tracks


    Where: Wasseruaren – Seealpsee – Meglisalp – Marwees – Wasserauen, Alpstein massif, Appenzell, Switzerland (map)

  • FINLAND
  • The Other Home Of Mine

    Tiina Kivelä

    I’ve been back to arctic tundra (also known as Lapland, my home) a few days now and as mentioned already, been eating and drinking well. And to earn all that eating and drinking, I’ve been running around Rovaniemi; road running by the river, and trail running on the Ounasvaara trails, an example of which in here.

    The path below is really for biking and since I wasn’t on a bicycle (this time), I have to apologize for the collision danger caused by my unresponsible actions. Normally I really do go according to the written and unwritten rules – and advice you to do the same, as it’s good for everyone – but up here, I just can’t help it and end up running everywhere. (Luckily though the summer season up north is quite quiet still, so I had the trails all to myself this time.)

    After the long periods in Switzerland, I’m always so excited to be back to the flatlands and mellow hills and fjells of Lapland – the air here is so fresh and the uphills so smooth. Not to mention the midnight sun, which messes up your sleep and allows running around whatever hour of the day or night (good way to get the most out of the messed up sleep patterns).

    Oh, and it’s also easy to make pace records here, at least compared to the Alps.

    All the vanity…

    Tiina Kivelä

    Ps. The trails are more than nice for some semi-urban hiking as well. But please note that the signalization is a bit outdated and confusing – new, a better system should be up next year though – so take a map with you when going.


    Where: Rovaniemi 66°N, Lapland, Finland (guide)