Hiking the Swiss Alps—downhill

I just did something I never thought I would—hiked an Alp. I must admit that Tom and I hiked our Alp downhill after a lovely ski gondola ride uphill. (That’s me above, struggling with the elements on the perilous downhill journey.)

Our Alp is Giot, and it’s in the sweet town of St. Moritz, where we had the joy of spending two nights in the splendid Hotel Reine Victoria, built in 1875. Baroque, glamorous, carved moldings, a zillion crystal chandeliers, cherubs painted on the ceiling, the whole thing.

The dining room at the Hotel Reine Victoria

St. Moritz is a major ski town now, but during the Victorian era of the European Grand Tour, it was a spa town where folks went to bathe in the fresh mountain springs from melting glaciers. It is dead quiet off season, peopled by hikers (real ones, uphill types) and the occasional young thrillist who’s taking the lift up, and then riding his (not sexist, just no girls) mountain bike down the mountain, either by paved trail or rough path. The town surrounds the small Lake St. Moritz, where tiny boats silently sail and senior citizens stroll the paved path all around it.

Tom at the lake

Having done the lake walk and the hill bit, Tom needed a nap, while I seriously needed to visit one of the most splendid aquatic complexes in Europe. Built just seven years ago, adjacent to the Bronze age Mauritius fountain, the 70,000 square foot Ovavera sports center has four pools—one for lapping, one for diving, one for kids, and one giant infinity bubbling spa half the size of a basketball court.

After checking in at the clinic next door, and slapping down fifty bucks for a Swiss QR code that proved I’ve been vaccinated (required to get into the building), I did some slow laps in the 82-foot lap pool, with photos of local Olympic swim champions frowning down at my sloth. Then there was a happy half hour in the spa overlooking our personal Alp and a wall of green trees, interrupted by an old church, its spire reaching to heaven.

The spa at Ovavera, St Moritz

But why? Heaven is already here.