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General information about Samnaun Valley and Compatsch Village:
Samnaun is a valley in the Swiss alps which has five little villages - Samnaun Dorf, Ravaisch, and Plan at one end of the valley and Compatsch and Laret at the other. The villages are connected by a free 'Ortsbus' service in the Summer. It takes about an hour to walk from Compatsch to Samnaun Dorf. The valley is between 1750 and 1800 metres elevation. For people with asthma, the clear air is good, but the thin air may not be so good. It's also cold air.
The LBW will be based in Compatsch.
The Samnaun area is well known for two reasons. One is the big skiing area which is connected together with Ischgl, and the other special thing about Samnaun is that VAT and some other taxes do not apply in Samnaun. That is why fuel, spirits and perfume are very cheap in Samnaun. It is similar to duty free zones in airports.
The Samnaun Tourist Board have created a very useful website with pictures, maps and lists of facilities at http://samnaun.ch. It is available in English and German. Please take some time to browse their site as there is a lot of information there, e.g. how to get there, accommodation information, additional pictures etc.
Nearest airports are Innsbruck(115km), Z├╝rich or Munich (250km.)
SBB/CFF/FFS is the Swiss train company. Worth looking into if you are extending your stay is either the half-tax card, which reduces train fares (150 CHF for a year, or 99 CHF for a month), or the "Swiss Travel System", which gives unlimited travel for a number of days ("Swiss Pass"). Information is available on the SBB site in 4 languages and, you all know how to use Google if this interests you.
Samnaun Valley is not directly accessible by train from Z├╝rich - the following is the route:
- train from Zurich hb to Landquart
- change to train to Scuol
- change to bus number 921 to Martina (-Samnaun,-Landeck)
- at Martina, transfer to another smaller bus on the 921 route to samnaun
The journey takes between 4 and 5 hours, depending on waiting times at Landquart or Scuol. A single ticket can be purchased to cover the whole route in Zurich if you do not opt for a Swiss Travel System aka Swisspass. Prices can be checked on the SBB site.
Check bahn.de for connections from Innsbruck or Munich.
DrivingFor driving details, it is best to check the Samnaun Tourism page here.
You must have a valid driving license, and possibly an international driving license if your country's one is not accepted in .ch (AFAIK this is not an issue for US or EU licenses). If you are going to drive on the motorway, you are required to purchase a vignette for this. It's relatively cheap, and they sell them on the border. The roads seem of a good quality but get narrow, steep and winding coming into the valley. Alternatively, consider using public transport. If only to discover what it's like when trains run on time and are quiet.
Switzerland is not a full member of Schengen. This means you should bring your passport. They have a tendency to not look at the contents of passports in Zurich airport, or on the train, but they can ask, so bring it with you. Switzerland is more accepting of foreign nationals than the EU, so people who may need VISAs for EU countries may not need them for Switzerland. But anyone in that boat would not be able to join in in cross-border visits. Especially as Samnaun is so close to the Austrian border, it would be easy to get somewhere with a crossing. Also, Samnaun is a duty free area, which adds more fun and games with passports, and customs.
The hall is located at the school house in Compatsch. Nearest Postbus stop is Compatsch-Post. The building looks like this:
The price will be covered by the gemeinde if there are more than 40 people. There are people living in the school buildings, so 24 hour access will be possible, but late loud parties will not.
As mentioned, the Gemeinde will cover the cost of the hall if we have more than 40 attendees. For broadband costs, mobile connectivity is available and with 3G/EDGE, we can have internet access for 3.50 CHF/day. Latency is high, and bandwidth low, so we may want to look into ADSL tech. We need to talk to the gemeinde about whether we can get a temporary link in place. Discussions will be made to get ADSL. Various people in the valley already have it, so a system like Doolin or Killin using wireless to connect us may be possible.
The hall is in Compatsch, on the side of the village closest to Laret. It takes about 12 mins (in snow) to walk from the far side of Compatsch or the far side of Laret to the hall, so both are acceptable places for hunting for accomodation within 1km of the hall. Choose Compatsch if you want to walk uphill in the morning, and Laret if you want to walk uphill in the evening;)Hotel, B&B (pension) or self-catering (Ferienwohnung) accomodation is bookable from the Samnaun site at Accomodation. Use the 'Advanced Search' and 'More Choices' options to include only Compatsch and Laret. It is probably also worth cross-referencing the address with Google Earth to see the height difference to the hall before you book, if you are worried about getting too much exercise;)
A rough indication of costs for a self-catering appartment is about 550.00 CHF for two person. So that makes about 40 CHF (25 Euro / 35 US Dollar) per day per person. Self catering will often have a final, separate cleaning charge.
If you use the Samnaun Tourism site to book, and stay in the valley during the summer, your guest card gives nice perks like free use of the cablecar, and free entry into the swimming pool. Keep an eye on the Samnaun site for this summer's particular offers.
If you are having difficulty booking, contacting the Samnaun Tourism office directly would be a good idea - they are very helpful people.
There is no campsite in the Samnaun valley. There is a camping car site. We will discuss with the gemeinde the possiblity of renting a field for camping purposes, but no guarantees can be made.
Eating and Drinking
Beer costs up to 6CHF for 500ml. Coffee costs anything from 2-10CHF, depending on how much booze is in it. Pizza is between 13-20CHF and fondue 25-30CHF. You will die if you try to eat fondue in the summer. A nice meal from a touristy place runs to around 30CHF/person, but smaller things are available. There is a searchable database of gastronomical wonders of samnaun.
Cafes, Bars and hotels with food near the hall are: Compatsch: Bars - Steinbock, Hotels - Romantica, Cresta, Cafe - the bakery beside the hall. Laret: Bars - Almraus, Sunshine Bar, Hotels - Edi, Laret, Cafe - Astro Internet Cafe..
For food shopping there is a supermarket in the cheese factory/shop (sennerei) in Compatsch/Laret, and larger supermarkets in Samnaun Dorf.
Swiss beer is neither terrible, nor wonderful. It tends towards Pils/lager with a few local breweries also operating. The nearest of these is Monstein, but that's not really close enough to visit. Beer from one of the better Swiss brewers based in Appenzell is available in all the bars I tried. Their Quollfrisch beer is a nice alternative to pils, while being lighter than a weizen.
Monstein's beer is available in Zurich and other places. Other swiss beers, such as, Ittinger Klosterbrau are also available. Weizenbier is widely available, imported from Germany, or brewed locally. Generally, a random combination of Lager, Klosterbraeu, Dunkel and Weizen biers is available. Some more Information
Samnaun looks like having some of the best walking opportunities of any LBW in history. There is something for everyone, from a relatively relaxed stroll along the valley to more challenging mountain paths, to trails with scree and scrambling. Full details will go into the reg. system as event proposals, once the tourist board brochure is translated, but it is safe to say you could plan two walks a day and still not have to leave the valley. If you don't feel like walking, you can cheat and see the top of the mountains via cable car, which operates in the summer.
Walks are well signposted according to type and estimated distance.
A long walk John Costello noticed is here. Anyone for an 18 hour walk?
Although the local currency is CHF (Swiss Francs) in nearly every shop and accomodation provider in Samnaun you would be able to pay in Euro as well. Some of the shops would also take US Dollars.
Current exchange rates (11:26 PM, 7-Dec-2007) are:
$1 = 1.13 CHF
£1 = 2.29 CHF
€1 = 1.65 CHF
Cash machines are in Samnaun Dorf (free bus away) and dispense CHF only unless you have a Swiss bank account;).
The swiss franc is reasonable stable, so it shouldn't change much against anything but the USD. However, accepting credit cards is not so common place here. They do tend to work, but some places will only take Mastercard, not Visa. This is likely less of an issue in Samnaun, where they're used to tourists all the time, but if you're travelling through or staying in the rest of Switzerland, it's worth bearing in mind.
Switzerland has 4 official languages, and at least 1 unofficial. 70% of the population speak something that was once related to German. 20% of the population speak French. A small amount speak Italian (mainly in the canton of Ticino). An even smaller amount speak Romantsch. You can assume you will be okay with English + some High/Standard German. Obviously, like any country, they're happier if you make an effort. The local dialect is not too difficult compared to some parts of Switzerland and does not seem to be spoken to tourists by default.
Some Swiss German:
- Hello - Gruezi/Gruessach
- Thank you - Danke Vielmal/Merci Vielmal
- Goodbye - Schoenen Tag/Schoenen Abig/Schoenen Wochenende/Ade/Adieu
Numbers are different to High German too:
Eis, Zwei, Dru, Vier, Feuf, Sachs, Siebe, Acht, Nun, Za. Zwansk, Feufsk, Nunsk. (These vary by location, so these may be Zuri-Deutsch).
If you have any further questions please feel free to contact the lbw mailing list.
lots of accomodation
shops and duty free
bike hire and ski lifts
post office and bus service
good value restaurants