Deciding how to spend the final weekend in Europe after 2.5 years of adventuring is quite difficult. I considered flying to a final new place in or around Europe, hanging around Vevey for one final weekend, or traveling back to the US a few days early. A wise friend advised me to spend time in Switzerland in the final month rather than traveling all over, and I took that advise to heart. However, I still wanted one more adventure, which meant spending the long Easter weekend somewhere other than Vevey.
I recently learned about a famous thermal bath in Vals, Switzerland. It’s in the southeast of Switzerland – a region I hadn’t visited at all. I was sold on the baths, but needed to piece together some other stops on the way to warrant driving “all the way” over there. After some more investigation, I came up with a plan. Three other friends were up for the adventure, so Friday morning (a public holiday here), we were off!
Stop #1 was a town called St. Gallen. It’s about three hours or so from Vevey, and it is the capital of the canton (or state) of St. Gallen. We went to see the Abbey of Saint Gall, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. An abbey has existed here since 719. The library within the Abbey is one of the most stunning in the world. It is home to 2,100 manuscripts with dates ranging from 8th-15th centuries! Of course, you aren’t supposed to take any pictures, but I couldn’t resist sneaking a few. The room was just exquisite!
We had lunch at a local Swiss restaurant, and I realized it’s probably the last time in a long time that I will be eating a sausage for a meal. I have had SO many of them while living here!
Stop #2 was in a new country – Vaduz, Liechtenstein! When it’s barely a detour to cross the border and stop for a passport stamp and some fun photos, how can you resist?!
Stop #3 was a small village in the mountains – Vals, Switzerland. Home to the Valser water bottling plant. It is in the canton of Graubunden. The village is TINY. Spending a day at the thermal baths was our only objective. We laughed a lot about the service we received in this area. It’s a huge generalization, but we felt like the Swiss Germans were reprimanding, scolding, or lecturing us every time we asked a question. It definitely became the joke of the two nights we spent here!
On the first morning, our friend led us in an hour long yoga class. She used to teach in the US, and I hoped to take a lesson with her while I was living in Switzerland. Looks like I squeezed it in just in the knick of time! It was a beautiful setting – next to the indoor pool with a beautiful view. However, it was crazy hot near the pool, so it felt more like a bikram (hot yoga) class! Despite the heat, it was a great way to start the day!
After yoga and breakfast, we walked across the street, up the stairs, up six floors in an elevator, and across a sky bridge to get to Therme Vals (the thermal baths). They don’t allow photos inside, but Google images or their website will allow you to see the architectural wonder that it is! It was so beautiful. They were designed by a famous architect (Peter Zumthor), and the design was sleek and elegant throughout. They limit the number of entrants each day, so it’s MUCH calmer than the other thermal baths I’ve visited in Switzerland. The weather was spectacular, so we got to enjoy our time in the outdoor baths. The views were breathtaking! There were a number of different baths with varying temperatures throughout, and I loved the lounge chairs that looked out at the mountains! We spent about five hours there, which was incredibly relaxing and restful!
Stop #4 was Furstenau, Switzerland for an epic Easter lunch and farewell meal! There are three 3-star Michelin restaurants in Switzerland, and one of them was close to where we were spending the weekend! It’s called Schloss Schauenstein, and it’s chef is Andreas Caminada. He is the youngest 3-star chef in Europe and is considered to be the best chef in Switzerland. All of this would have been helpful to know BEFORE he came out to greet us before departure. We thanked him for a delicious lunch, but didn’t ask any questions or even think to take a picture with him!
This restaurant is also featured on “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list, which is sponsored by San Pellegrino & Acqua Panna.
The weather was gorgeous today, so we got to enjoy an aperitif outside on the terrace before moving inside to enjoy course after course of innovative food. There were so many flavors, textures, and combinations that blew my mind! And just when we thought it had to be over, more appeared! Our experience lasted 4-5 hours, and I have to say that it was worth every penny. I know it’s an Easter lunch I will always remember.
Our fifth and final stop was St. Moritz. The Winter Olympic games were hosted here in 1928 and 1948, and it’s considered to be the Vail of Switzerland. I mostly wanted to make it over here out of curiosity. Easter weekend isn’t necessarily the best time to come as shops are closed for the holiday, but the surrounding are still beautiful – frozen lake & mountains.
This weekend of beauty, relaxation, laughter, and delicious food was the perfect way to say “good-bye” to Switzerland. I’m so grateful for girlfriends who were willing to join me for a final weekend roadtrip!