Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Though I downhill ski, when I travel to ski country, I like to find options that don’t lock me in to nothing but a week of high-priced lift tickets, expensive food at mountain resorts and dealing with everything from out of control skiers to long lift lines. Of course, everything is a little different in Europe but, still, I prefer varying my activities when visiting a ski resort.
And that’s what I did when I visited Davos, Switzerland. This is, of course, a mega resort and yet there is plenty to do that has nothing to do with downhill skiing. Here are some of my favorite activities plus additional options:
1. Cross country ski
More than 45 miles of trails beckon, some for those, like me, who prefer classic Nordic skiing, and others for skiers who like to skate. Many trails wander through peaceful valley. And you hardly have to be an expert: there’s a ski school, a place to rent equipment and, even better, the trails are free! Plus, you’ll find a two-mile trail that’s available for night Nordic skiing.
2. Ice skating
I’m not a big fan of indoor skating but, in Davos, you have your choice: If you prefer the relative warmth of an indoor rink, you’ve got it here. But Davos is also home to Europe’s largest natural rink. This is where I skate when I travel to Davos.
Just because there’s snow on the ground is no reason to stop hiking. And Davos, with it’s well-marked trails, makes it easy to either work up a sweat on a strenuous trail or just enjoy the scenery. When I don’t have a lot of time to get to a trailhead, I walk around Davos Lake. Otherwise, there a lovely 2+ hour easy walk from Ischalp back to Davos that meanders through a dense, snow-coated forest and then along a wide trail to Calavadel with its scenic valley views, finally following a river to Davos.
I actually prefer Nordic skiing to snowshoeing which I find nowhere near as smooth and rhythmic. That being said, Davos offers some pristine showshoe trails, including those that make a loop from the top of the Pischa cable car station. There you’ll maybe have the well-marked trails to yourself as you wander along sunny slopes. And, of course, like most things in Davos, you can sign up for a 1+ hour showshoe trek by moonlight.
Though I’m not the biggest fan of careening downhill at high speed with no chance of slowing down before hitting the bottom, families love tobogganing here, especially nighttime adventures along the curves of Davos-Schatzalp.
6. Horsedrawn carriage
This is definitely a more mellow alternative that can be perfect for couples who want a romantic ride by moonlight.
7. Wellness & Pleasure Pool Centre
After all these workouts, mellow as many may be, your muscles are bound to become weary. That’s why you’ll want to spend the afternoon at the Wellness Center where you can opt for a hot stone massage or an interesting acupoint massage (it’s based on acupuncture meridiens). You’ll also have your choice of treatments and rooms, like found in the Saunarium and Silent Room, with gorgeous mountain views. A Finnish sauna, foot pools, hydrotherapy pool and cold surge shower are all meant to stimulate your immunity and your circulation.
Davos is not all about action. The town is chock full of cultural activities. Among the museums that I love because I enjoy checking out vintage artifacts include the Winter Sports Museum where you’ll find displays of old ski bindings, sleds and skates; the Toy Museum with its teddy bears, doll houses and other items from a private collection dating from the 18th century; and the Museum of Medicine -- because I have a medical background, I can’t pass this up -- where you’ll find artifacts that make you glad you’re seeing a doctor in the 21st century.
In addition, because I enjoy checking out art, the Kirchner Museum is a must see for those who enjoy this German artist’s colorful landscapes. His work is said to have inspired Expressionism and this museum is the largest collection of his work in the world.