The train journey to Scuol took about 3 hours and passed through some fabulous countryside. We changed a couple of times, and most of the journey was on the Rhiatische Bahn affectionately called Der kleine Rote (the small red one!). The Unter Engadin (lower valley of the En) has only really been opened up to the outside world in the last 10 years or so with the train route. Before that, you had to drive and use the Vereina Tunnel. The Unter Engadin is on the edge of the Swiss National Park, and in fact the river En (also called the “Inn”) flows into Austria and Innsbruck.
Scuol (alt. 1200m) is the ‘capital’ of the Unter Engadin, and a centrepoint for the Rumantsch culture, and has always been a Spa – its proud of its healing waters. Scuol has a lower village (Scuol Sot) and upper village (Scuol Sura). The Upper village has more hotels and shops, whereas the lower village has the older, beautifully renovated houses. Scuol’s spa heritage is marked today by its many fountains, supplying clear fresh water to tourists and villagers! The whitewashed Engadine houses are really distinctive. They have deep, funnel windows, thick walls, “sgraffito” (traditional artwork scratched into the plaster, often heraldic in nature), rounded cellar doors, benches, and often in one case a sun dial!
Rumantsch is the fourth official language of Switzerland and spoken by 0.86% of the population (about 70,000), mostly in the canton of Graubuenden. It’s a member of the Romance family of languages, which developed from the vulgar Latin spoken by the Roman soldiers and administrators. It belongs to the same family as French, Italian, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, and Romanian. To make matters more complicated Romantsch has five main dialects which differ greatly in their written and spoken form. Two of them have several sub-dialects…After a 5-year study of all these dialects an artificial uniform written language was launched in 1982 under the name Rumantsch Grischun (Grisons Romantsch). based on the dominant characteristics of the five dialects.
We learnt just one word “Allegra” – Hi! Very useful when walking in the moutains… Part 2 of our adventures to follow...