Having discovered one of Switzerland's lesser-known highlights, Samnaun, last year, I managed to encourage my mother to come along this year and it turned out to be a lovely week.
We have normally been fortunate with the weather on our holidays but 2019 has not quite lived up to our hopes. That said, we only had one poor day and managed a trip on another before the heavens once again opened on our return.
We flew to Innsbruck which is the easiest airport to reach Samnaun from although Zurich offers decent possibilities. Both take a while, if taking public transport.
Someone told me that the descent into Innsbruck is one of those hairy ones and one which, well, keeps the pilots on their toes. I had read this also but was surprised that Innsbruck was in the top ten of this particular magazine's list. I suspected that it was a bit of scaremongering frankly having flown into the airport on two or three previous occasions. It seems that the descent was in the opposite direction on the other times and suddenly the mountains did seem awfully close. A right turn had a few people's hearts in their mouths but it was a terrific view. I rather doubt that there was anything to worry about either even though the pilot was cheered wildly when we landed.
The British Airways flight we took had had its time changed just after we had booked and the later time wasn't especially welcome but Innsbruck is such an easy airport that we were in, collected the luggage and out within fifteen minutes and on a bus I didn't expect us to make. We stayed at the Hotel Edelweiss in Gotzens which is actually very close to the airport but public transport means a change of bus in Innsbruck.
I had enjoyed the Edelweiss last year and was delighted that Mum was pleased with it this time. The rooms are decent, there is an excellent restaurant as well as spa facilities. I surprised myself the next day managing to do some sort of swimming stroke and managing four lengths of their - comparatively short - pool but still left exhausted.
We had a lovely day in Innsbruck the day after our arrival having taken the bus from Gotzens into the city. I know that it was good as soon as we alighted as Mum saw the picturesque houses on the other side of the River Inn and wanted her photo taken. Trust me, a rarity.
We visited the main highlights and had the weather to enjoy it even more also. I have to say that Innsbruck is one of my top, favourite cities and it was nice to have a day there. We enjoyed some decent piano playing for would-be pianists in the main square which added to the beautiful surroundings. I chuckled at Mum's quip that she hadn't expected much of the hotel or Gotzens, the inference being that I put up in cheap places... She loved both but has, I suspect, not changed her views on how I spend my money...
We visited the St. Peter and Paul Church in Gotzens and were staggered by its beauty for such a small town. We wholeheartedly agreed that it was one of the magnificent churches which we have been inside.
We moved on to Samnaun the following day which involved three buses and a train journey (which was heavily booked so we did well to find seats together). It is a very scenic journey and everything went smoothly so much so that we were in the Appartement Panorama in Samnaun by 1 p.m.
I had stayed there last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. Alex and Astrid Heis are very caring hosts, the rooms are big with either self-catering facilities or breakfast available at very decent rates. Alex and Astrid kindly gave me the same room as last year whilst Mum was next door and very happy with hers and the wonderful view. We spent four nights there. Like last year, the Guest Card was included which still remarkably includes free use of the cable car, chairlifts and buses within the Samnaun area.
Our first day did not go well. We took the cable car only to find that the weather was far worse than in the towns lower down. We managed to go down in a chairlift but driving rain made us wet before we had managed to cope with the protective screen. We headed back and effectively the first day was wasted.
The inside of the beautiful St. Peter and Paul Church in Gotzens.
One of the chairlifts en route to Ischgl.
A high mountain “border crossing” between Switzerland and Austria
Mum enjoyed the many forms of mountain transport in Samnaun
Scenery en route to Compatsch
Appartement Panorama, Samnaun where we stayed

The weather wasn't markedly better the following day but it allowed us to visit Ischgl in Austria. Samnaun has an arrangement whereby visitors can visit Ischgl - again, at certain times of the summer, at no cost as it comes with the Guest Card - via a selection of chairlifts and cable cars. It was quite a ride including one fifteen minute ride on a chairlift to the "border crossing" from where two further modes of transport convey people into Austria. It takes a while but was terrific fun and we enjoyed seeing a little bit of the pleasant town before the rains returned and we had a slightly less nice trip back to Samnaun.
Our third and final full day did finally bring excellent weather and we made a walk from the mountains down to Compatsch, another village in the Samnaun area. For me, it is a comparatively easy walk and I had picked it as the easiest introduction to mountain walking for Mum but was a bit bothered by her progress. It turned out that the walking sticks which I had given her as a Christmas present - and which I had pointed out early on were not to be taken offensively! - actually turned out to be more of a hindrance. Without them, she walked far better so that was another bright idea which failed dismally... She enjoyed the walk very much and did well.
We moved on the next day to return from Zurich. It was a somewhat circuitous route involving an overnight halt in a very hot Feldkirch before going on a day later to a very wet Zurich. The travel side went well in general but one train was a little delayed. We stayed in the Hotel Baren where I had put up three years previously and it was convenient for the centre which we enjoyed later in the evening. Mum had been on a coach trip to Feldkirch whilst at college but did not remotely recognise the place after so many years.
The last day was a bit fraught as the train we booked on came in on time and, for whatever reason, stopped and instead of having a journey straight through to Zurich, we found ourselves changing in both Buchs and Sargans with many, many others and then sitting on the stairs of a double-decker train to Zurich where it was raining. The idea had been to have some lunch at the Limmatquai which we had enjoyed two years ago but the weather put paid to that so we went to the airport and had a four-hour wait. Yes, it wasn't a heap of laughs and for good measure a delay was announced only half-an-hour or so before the flight was due to depart. With the inevitable knock-on effects, we were late back into Heathrow.
I have always found Terminal 5 very good but this time the baggage was slow and we were lucky not to miss two RailAir coaches to Reading. It wasn't a good day to be on a train in England either so it had been a long and frustrating day reaching Swindon after leaving Feldkirch. For all that, it had been another lovely week.