Travels with Grace: Switzerland

Posted on June 11th, 2019 by

Welcome to this week’s segment of our 2019 #TravelTuesday series: Traveling with Grace. Today we continue Grace’s travels in Switzerland during the summer of 1929.


July 21, 1929

Original Vintage 1930s St. Moritz Travel Poster by Walter Herdeg, 1937. Via.

Sunday. We take a carriage today and enjoy to the fullest extent the wonderful sunshine and crisp, invigorating breeze, the best weather we have had since coming here. We follow a quiet shady road unfrequented by autos but pass many hikers there-on. The Tiergarten of St. Moritz, more picturesque than varied, stands on a rocky hillside not far from this hotel. We pass the Meirei which seems to be a sort of clubhouse and ride as far as the neighboring towns of Celerina and Samedan. They are both neat, clean, attractive little hamlets nestling in the valleys; both possess really fine hotels (which I believe are better patronized in winter than in summer) and the dearest little chalets with quaint windows coming out to a point, gay flowering window boxes and little old fashioned gardens. Wherever there is a sheltered sunny corner flowers are nurtured lovingly. Much fancy iron grillwork in geometric or floral design is displayed at windows, doors and stairs or balcony railings. On the walls of a few of the houses I note ornamental sun dials painted. Heavy oak doors are thickly studded with large square nail heads. Through open barn doors we glimpse sleighs stores away for the winter. Our driver points out trails down the mountain sides worn by skiers. The valleys are fair and smiling but all around the craggy, snow topped peaks look down grimly and rather menacingly. In St. Moritz dorf – to which we return by a different route – we see some pretty shops and the town is lively.


July 22, 1929

Map, Environs of St. Moritz and Pontresina, 1930. Via.

Monday. We took another delightful carriage ride today in a different direction past Campfer, Sils Maria and Sils Baselgia. The sun is shining warmly, and the air is filled with the pungent fragrance of the pines and the sweet, clean scent of new mown hay. We pass many pedestrians and a few equestrians. Some of the former are wearing the Tyrolean outfits. The ear is frequently arrested by the jungle of cow bells as the herds wander about in search pf pasturage. They even invade the golf course near St. Moritz Bad on the other side of the lake. The chain of lakes including St. Moritz See, Campfer See, and Silvaplaner See Silsersee, gleam a bright emerald green. The Inn River which has its source up in these Alps flows past, as does likewise the Fechsbach which flows from the Fechsgletcher which we can see high up in the notch of one of the peaks. The wildflowers are lovely, magenta thistles, blue bells, heather, butter cups, daisies and many others unfamiliar to me. The sober atmosphere of the country is further heightened by the sight of the little village cemeteries, so modest and simple as compared to the ornate and fanciful burial grounds of Italy, the country of gaiety where even the resting places of the dead cannot look altogether somber. When not driving I am enjoying the air and scenery from my little balcony at the Carlton. One feature of this hotel which rather amuses me is the fact that each guest has his own little corner in the lounge reserved for him.


July 23, 1929

Hotel Pontresina, 1918. Via.

Today we have a most beautiful carriage ride, first to the town of Pontresina, where there is a beautiful hotel built on the side of the mountain which looks exactly like a castle and then along a most picturesque road – closed to automobiles – which follows the course of the stormy Rosegsbach down to the Rosegsthal. Always in the background is the beautiful white mountain almost covered with the Roseg Glacier, to which we approach quite close. One can view it plainly through the telescope at the little inn in the Rosegsthal where we stop for tea and also see the chamois grazing high up on the rocky crags. We see a huge bird, some kid of vulture, it looks exactly like an aeroplane in the flight, soaring over the mountains in search of prey.

“Piz Roseg” (Piz et Glacier de Roseg, Massif de la Bernina, St Moritz, Engadine, Grisons, Suisse), ca. 1930 by Antoine Mazel. Via.

They say it is after the young of the chamoix. The scenery hereabouts is a very wild and rugged, most inspiring. Waterfalls dash madly down the grim slopes, where the rocky sides are often bare of vegetation, to swell the turbulent stream which zigzags through its rocky bed in the valley. The wildflowers five the only touch of bright color to the scene, but the sun lights up the mountains with a golden radiance. In the villages we see itinerant merchants of various wares taking their well-stocked carts from house to house. No doubt they are the nearest approach to a department store that the inhabitants ever see. The peasants are very busy now gathering in the hay for the winter, men and women working late into the evening, eat their suppers in the field. Their first thought is for the kine, their greatest wealth, and their barns are often larger than their dwellings. One notes that very little truck farming is done in Switzerland. I have seen several of those noble beasts, the St. Bernard dogs. Near Pontresina is a most picturesque church, standing on a little knoll surrounded by a little graveyard and a few cypresses, its tower now falling into ruins as it was a Catholic church and has not been used since the time of the Reformation. An artist was sketching it as we passed. I have seen other artists painting in oils. They naturally cannot resist these marvelous landscapes.


July 26, 1929

Friday. Father’s birthday. We have a special dinner tonight topped off with a pretty cake in his honor.


Thanks for reading “Traveling with Grace,” a series where we’re sharing (and annotating) posts from the travel diaries of Grace Amelia Hecht, native Baltimorean, b. 1897 and d. 1955. As mentioned in my introductory post transcription errors sometimes occur and I’ve made my best guesses where possible, denoted by [brackets]. – Rachel Kassman, marketing manager


 

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