For the last leg of our journey in Switzerland, Phil and I headed to the Berner Oberland region. We wanted to take in the fresh mountain air and appreciate the incredible beauty and views of snow capped peaks, thundering waterfalls, and lush green hillsides.
Our adventure started in the town of Lauterbrunnen, where we took the gondola up the mountains to Mürren, a small pedestrian-only village that was the perfect starting point for all of our explorations in the coming few days. We stayed at the Eiger Guesthouse Mürren, which is situated right across from one of the gondola stations and easily accessible to plenty of hiking trails.
Mürren is a seemingly smaller village, only taking about 15 minutes to walk from one end to the other. There are a few small shops, but fairly quiet with some tourists during the day and completely dead at night.
Having arrived in Mürren in the early afternoon, we decided to appreciate the grand views and the good weather. We’re glad we did this because the next few days, the village and the peaks were covered in fog.
I was simply awestruck by the majestic cliffs and the lush valley below. Adrenaline junkies were paragliding and base jumping down the valley as local helicopters swerved from one side of the mountain to the other, transferring goods between villages.
With a few hours of daylight, we headed down to the Lauterbrunnen valley where there was less rain and fog. We stumbled across the Staubbach Falls when exploring the town and hiked up the stairs, through the tunnel and up a ramp to an area behind the falls itself. Though the falls seemed large and thunderous from below, from behind the falls, the water seemed like mere trickles from a rainfall.
We could have stood up from the top all day but daylight was waning and we decided to head back to Mürren.
The next morning, we met up with Phil’s godfather and aunt for a day trip to Grindelwald, just the next town over to Mürren. Grindelwald central is a bit more modern with a large grocery store and plenty of outdoor apparel and watch / souvenir shops. But, just further down, there are several hiking trails with breathtaking views.
For what I thought was a “little walk” turned into a steep but beautiful hike from Grindelwald to Bort. I should have known better since this tends to be the trend in Phil’s family. A Little walk or stroll really means a legitimate hike. Best wear your yoga pants and runners because it’s gonna be at least 3 miles. Tip: If you prefer to go downhill, you can take the gondola up to Bort and walk down, though some parts are incredibly steep.
This hike was absolutely wonderful and there were so many distractions that you forget you’re shuffling up a very steep hill. Towering mountains with rolling green hills below. Cows and goats made music with the clanging of their bells. Adorable houses scattered randomly throughout the valley. The views were breathtaking. Both Phil and I agreed that this hike was the highlight of our trip to Switzerland.
On the last day, we opted to hike the short one hour trail from Mürren down to Gimmelwald (not Grindelwald) since the weather forecast called for all day light rain with potential T-storms. With what we could conjure up as rain gear, we headed down to Gimmelwald, which was even sparser and isolated than Mürren. Rick Steves had mentioned that the people of Gimmelwald had declared the village an avalanche zone so that large resorts couldn’t move in.
What was endearing about this village was that there were “honesty” shops through the town. We could go into a barn or shop where there are items for sale and everything is self-service. Purchase and payment is based on an honor system. Phil and I picked up some local cheese and salami, left a twenty in the change box, and we were good to go. There were no interactions with the owners since they were busy farming the fields or managing the restaurant.
It seemed that every village in the Swiss Alps put a lot of love, care and thought into their home. The intricate carved wooden exterior and potted flowers on every window sill and door step. Even their storage houses were decorated with flowers, animal figurines, and baskets.
Simply said, Switzerland is stunning.
You have to visit this little part of the world if you ever get the chance and best to go in the summer when the weather is slightly more predictable and rain and fog is less likely.
Next up, Italy!