When travelling to a famous international destination, we tend to have high expectations. Breathtaking views! Great food! Cultural exchanges with friendly locals! But too many times, our lofty aspirations are met with the harsh reality of dirty, overcrowded streets and pricey hotels. Local flavor? It's nearly impossible to find in many of the world's most touristy destinations. That's why we've created Journi Guides.
Journi Guides tell you where to beat the crowds, experience something authentic, and get the best 'gram of your life.
Check out this week's Journi Guide below to get our top recommendation of places you might not have heard of, but definitely should get to know.
If you love to ski, then you've likely drooled over pictures of Chamonix-Mont Blanc. High in the French Alps, this luxury destination offers incredible powder in the winter and stunning views for hiking and biking in the summer. Chamonix offers a healthy dose of culture as well, with various festivals year-round such as the Rock Climbing World Cup, the music festival Festival Musiclac Mont Blanc, and the Cosmo Jazz Festival. As travel magazines the world over have touted, it's a lifetime experience.
So skip Chamonix ...
St.Mortiz is better.
The valley of St.Moritz in summertimePhoto by www.alpineguru.com
The sleepy Swiss valley of St. Moritz is a long-time favorite of European skiers, and offers a variety of slopes on par with Chamonix… without the flood of tourists or the inflated prices. Bursting with local culture, the villages within the valley of St. Moritz each have their own distinct flavor; they still speak various dialects of Latin-based Romansch, and local dishes are a savory mix of Italian and French styles.
That means, lots of delicious cheese and local wine!
I recently had the pleasure of joining St. Moritz photographer and Passion Ski instructor, Marek Čavojský for a week in this lovely snow town. Here's what you simply can not miss during your next trip to the valley of St. Moritz.
Beautiful powder days in St.MoritzPhoto by Marek Čavojský @artofwander
Take the Funicular train to the top of Muottas Muragl
Hop on board the Funicular train at the base of Engadine to climb to the top of the Muottas Muragl and take in stunning views of the entire St. Mortiz valley. Check out Hotel Romantikk at the top for delicious fondue and a luxury wine experience. Or, come dressed for the cold and rent a toboggan to sled all the way back down the mountain.
View from Muottas MuraglPhoto by Marek Čavojský @artofwander
Check out the Ice Stupas at Morteratsch
An Ice Stupa is a technique for "glacier grafting," which creates huge and elaborate heaps of ice to aide melting glaciers and by storing additional winter water for use in the spring. The technique of building ice stupas was originally practiced in the Himalayas, however the St. Moritz village of Morteratsch has recently constructed their own as the local glacier has receded. Tour the Morteratsch Ice Stupa on an educational journey to go inside the stunning structure, and learn more about the process of glacial retreat.
Inside the Morteratsch Ice StupaPhoto by Marek Čavojský @artofwander
Eat Cheese - a lot of it!
While you're visiting the Ice Stupa, why not stop at the neighboring Morteratsch Restaurant for some world-class fondue? The valley is known for its savory traditions, which includes white-wine based fondue and the lesser known raclette. Both can be found at Morteratsch Restaurant, and at local establishments throughout the valley.
Winter? Go to the Apres Ski at Corvatsch
Not only does the St. Moritz ski resort Corvatsch offer some of the most beautiful runs in the valley, but the night skiing is lit - literally! Floodlights illuminate the longest run, over 4 kilometers, until 2 a.m. every Friday night during the winter and spring. Ski straight into the makeshift bar located in the middle of the slope to enjoy a local beer and dance the night away at Apres Ski with the local DJ of the night.
Corvatsch at nightPhoto by www.corvatsch.ch
Summer? Go to a concert and drink some local beer
The Camerata Pontresina is a series of 99 free summer concerts offered in various forest locations throughout St. Moritz. Enjoy one - or a few - of these incredible classical music venues while sipping on a local brew from Engadiner Bier. Their Bella Vista is a crowd favorite, and has won awards throughout Europe as a tasty, drinkable hefeweizen. Enjoy one at a local forest concert in St. Moritz!
Photo by www.pontresina.ch