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Trip Report Melissa5 in SWITZERLAND: A Riot of Wildflowers - Berner Oberland June 2010

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My husband and I have plummeted back to sea level :(( after our astonishing journey to the gem of Switzerland...the Berner Oberland in the mighty Alps in late June/early July 2010. >:D< Ah, sweet memories...I am haunted by visions of the breath-taking, snow-capped Alps towering over a riot of wildflowers carpeting the lush green meadows and hillsides in yellow, violet, pink, magenta, red, blue, orange, and white blossoms.((F)) Waterfalls plunge down the towering cliffs into the Lauterbrunnen valley, which is more gorgeous than the maiden Rapunzel with all of her hair let down. :-X

Cowbells tinkle and jangle, each one ringing a different note...a lone alphorn serenades the moody landscape... ((8))birds twitter...waterfalls rush... The melting, slowly-moving glaciers on top of the Alps rumble quietly. This is the music of nature which caresses your ears in the Alps.

My husband and I are in our 50's and enjoy exploring the world. Switzerland is one of the most stunningly beautiful countries we have ever seen. We wanted to pinch ourselves, unable to believe what our eyes beheld! We enjoy walking, experiencing new cultures, and prefer staying in locally-owned accommodations run by the owners as much as possible. My husband is a biologist and I am a dreamer who enjoys writing.

Our itinerary was almost perfect for us. The only thing I would change if I had a do-over is to spend 1 night less in Wengen, and add 1 night more to Lucerne. Below is our itinerary, and we used these hotels as our bases to explore nearby areas.

Drive from San Diego to LAX in rental car.
Fly LAX to Zurich nonstop on Swiss International Airlines.
Train directly to Lucerne.
3 nights: Lucerne: Romantik Hotel Wilden Mann
(Hotel Wilden Mann serves best breakfast on our trip! expensive junior suites have A/C which allows you to close windows for quiet sleep on a summer night.)
www.wilden-mann.ch
5 nights: Murren: Hotel Bellevue (owned & run by Ruth & Othmar Suter)
(Hotel Bellevue in Murren is our favorite hotel in Switzerland! Highly recommended! Ask for the room with the best mountain view. Great value for our money. More detailed review will follow later in this report.)
www.muerren-ch/bellevue
6 nights: Wengen: Hotel Berghaus (run by Martina Fontana & her father)
www.berghaus-wengen.ch
(Hotel Berghaus was an ok stay. Martina Fontana & her father are very helpful. more detailed review will follow later in this report. On our next trip to Wengen I'd like to try a different hotel as there are lots of interesting choices in Wengen. I may try the Hotel Schonegg in Wengen next time.)
1 night: Zurich: Radisson Blu in the Zurich airport
(recommended as a very convenient & comfortable hotel in the Zurich airport! Easily walk between train station to Radisson Blu Hotel to airport with your luggage. Great for a first or last night at the airport. Ask for the AAA discount in advance and bring your AAA card.)
radissonblu.com/hotel-zurichairport
Fly Zurich to LAX nonstop on Swiss International Airlines
Drive rental car LAX to San Diego

Alas, there is no cure for "Berner Oberland Withdrawal Pains"! :( We are already planning our next trip to Switzerland! :-D My husband plans to go paragliding in the Berner Oberland. (He used to hang-glide in his wilder youth.) We will return again to the Berner Oberland on our next trip, and also explore a new region of Switzerland. We may also return to Lucerne which makes a lovely first stop after flying to Zurich. On our next trip to the Berner Oberland, we are discussing staying in both Murren and either Lauterbrunnen or Interlaken. (Interlaken doesn't have the charm of Murren or Wengen, and it doesn't have the beauty of Lauterbrunnen, but it is a convenient base for exploring areas accessible from the lakes.)

COMING UP NEXT: BEST :-X ((Y)) & WORST :& ((N)) of our Switzerland Trip!

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    Hotel Bellevue in Murren: ((Y))
    www.muerren.ch/bellevue

    That is the correct link for the Hotel Bellevue in Murren! Sorry for the typo in the previous posting.

    Hotel Bellevue in Murren was our favorite hotel in Switzerland! :-X (Confusingly, there are other hotels in Switzerland with the same name, but they are totally different hotels.) We asked for a quiet romantic room with the best mountain view, and they reserved their best room for us...loved it! We will request the same room on our next visit. They put us in the "romantic superior double room on 2nd floor with balcony for best view". (More details will follow later in this report.) We felt the Hotel Bellevue in Murren provided us with the best overall experience and also the best value for our money. Ruth & Othmar Suter are the welcoming owners and they run the hotel with admirable efficiency. Ruth put a lot of love and creativity into the refurbishment of our room!

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    Hello Melissa5 :)

    Welcome to the I LOVE SWITZERLAND club!!

    I was wondering how your trip was going. I think you must have set a record for the most questions asked pre-trip! You were so very thorough!! So glad you enjoyed yourselves.

    As far as returning, yup, you're hooked! We've gone back EVERY year for over 20 years!! And we never tire of exploring. It's amazing how many new things we do each time.

    I'm looking forward to reading all about your travels thru beautiful Switzerland!

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    Uh-oh, another traveller bitten by the Switzerland bug...welcome to the club Melissa. Once is never enough (just like NZ!). I look forward to reading about your adventures.

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    Delightful to see the Alps through your eyes; so happy to welcome another member to the Switzerland fan club! Looking forward to reading all your impressions as your trip continues.

    s

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    HappyCheesehead: Thanks for the reply. I'm excited to sit down with all my notes and brochures and add to this trip report! It's kinda depressing to be home in San Diego now with our "june gloom" weather actually spreading into July. I wanna move to Switzerland! I'll be on the forum soon to work on this trip report.

    swisshiker: Yes I'm delighted to be part of the I LOVE SWITZERLAND club! I miss it so much already. I'm trying to tell myself to be happy because many people never get to see Switzerland even once. I just told my mother, who has never been to Europe, you know that scene where Julie Andrews runs out on the hills with the mountains in the background, and she sings "The hills are alive..." Well, add more flowers to that picture, and its the clearest picture of Switzerland that I could explain to someone who has never been there! (Ok I know Ms. Andrews was probably in Austria but still she captures the exuberance of Switzerland!) Can't wait to work some more on my trip report. :-X So you've been back to Switzerland for 20 years! Wow! How great is that!

    ThinGorjus: Well, to answer your question, I would consider staying at the Hotel Schonegg in Wengen, if you are going to Wengen. We walked by it almost every day and people looked well dressed and having fun. We walked in the lobby and immediately were greeted by a professional staff member. It looked like most rooms at the Schonegg have good views. I actually preferred Murren but Wengen was fun too. If you are going to Wengen have kimsanjose on the tripadvisor forums send you her Wengen pages...great resource!

    Melnq8: I think you can relate to this: I never thought I'd see anywhere else that is as stunning as New Zealand... As far as the mountains go, Switzerland tops New Zealand! (However New Zealand also has Fiordland and other special treasures.) I'm so excited that my husband wants to return to Switzerland too...so I don't have to talk him into it! He wants to go paragliding. He loved all the diversity of flowers. He also found a few things like salamanders and newts (spelling?) which excite a biologist but everyone else ignores. We both loved the amazing sheer heights of the cliffs and mountains rising out of the valleys. OK I gotta do some things so I can get back to my trip report soon! Hopefully I can work on it tonight or tomorrow. By the way thank you for telling me to just fly into Zurich, get the Swiss Pass, and train over to the BO! It truly is a gem! We did stop in Lucerne first and enjoyed the lakes.

    swandav2000, thanks for your reply and for all the pre-trip help! It's more fun to work on a trip report when you know someone is reading it. I have my brochures and guidebooks here plus some notes I took while on the trails or while having an inspired moment. (I like to write.) By the way even though my title makes it sound like I'm still in Switzerland (for eternity!), I'm actually home at sea level...and we are having gloomy weather for July.

    THANKS A MILLION everybody for all the pre-trip help! And thanks for putting up with my anxious questions. I miss Switzerland. I miss the beauty. I miss the diversity of people speaking so many languages. I miss the way that Europeans tend to talk in hushed voices in public compared to we Americans in the USA. I miss the scenic trains and eye-popping cable car rides. I miss the cheese! :-P

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    LUZERN, URNERSEE, AND RIGI

    The lovely town of Luzern (Lucerne), on a gorgeous lake, was our first stop in Switzerland. We flew nonstop from LAX to Zurich, bought our 1st class Swiss Passes, and took the train directly to Luzern.

    We spent 3 nights in expensive Luzern, to recover from jetlag,:-O and to meander about the attractive city with the famous wooden bridges. Strolling along the riverfront and across the bridges is romantic in the evening.:-X Our 1st class Swiss Passes included passage on the boat rides on the upper decks, and we enjoyed 2 scenic boat rides: one sunset cruise along Lake Luzern (Luzernersee), and a second longer boat trip from Lake Luzern all the way to the Urnersee, which is the furthest lake. The Urnersee is far more scenic than Lake Luzern, and its a 6-hour round trip boat ride if you do the whole thing.

    If you are staying in Luzern, we highly recommend you take the boat ride to the Urnersee, and make a stop wherever you fancy. ((Y))

    The scenery from the boat as you cruise to the Urnersee is definitely worth the time spent. You have the beautiful lakes, and you are looking at the surrounding cliffs and mountains. One part of the journey is fijord-like.(-: We decided to get off the boat at the Rutli Meadow stop, where we had lunch, but it wasn't a very exciting stop. The scenery from the boat ride itself was the best part of the day. We would definitely do this boat ride again to the Urnersee next time, but we would choose to get off at a different stop next time. (We were happy to be on the 1st class deck since it was kids day on the boats and the 2nd class was full of kids with their teachers!)

    At one point along the Urnersee, it is very windy, and we saw lots of colorful parasailers on the water.

    We also had time to go up to Mt. Rigi. We took the train up to Rigi, enjoyed the views, and had a cup of tea at the deserted Rigi Kulm Hotel, which was so quiet that I call it the “haunted” hotel. We didn't have time for any hikes on Rigi. We took the cable car down which is exciting and scenic...our first cable car ride in Switzerland. >:D< I'm happy to report that, even though I'm afraid of heights, I found the Swiss cable cars to be reassuringly sturdy, very scenic, and actually fun, and not scary at all!

    My husband and I enjoyed our 3 nights in Luzern, and we agree we would happily return to Luzern again. There are plenty of day-trips from Luzern and its a romantic and attractive city. ((Y))

    Our 2 favorite restaurants in Luzern were:

    ((*))Restaurant Rathaus Brauerei, Luzern
    Location: Unter der Egg 2, along the riverfront.
    This is a fun microbrewery that's a friendly and romantic place for a drink or dinner in the evening. We got lucky and the waitress told us to join another couple at their table. They turned out to be friendly locals, so we enjoyed hearing all about how much they love living in Luzern. We recommend this restaurant/microbrewery, which is open long hours daily. My husband had a “gourmet pretzel sandwich” and I enjoyed fresh fish. We both liked their beer and the romantic views from the restaurant, sitting outside.

    ((*))Restaurant Taube, Luzern
    Location: Burgerstrasse 3
    www.taube-luzern.ch
    This restaurant was conveniently near our hotel, Romantik Hotel Wilden-Mann. I enjoyed a delicious dinner of local trout, potatoes and veggies. I think my husband had the bratwurst. We both enjoyed the food.

    We had major jetlag in Luzern, so I have my memories, brochures, and restaurant business cards, but no creative writing on Luzern.

    ((*))Romantik Hotel Wilden Mann Luzern
    Bahnhofstrasse 30, Luzern
    www.wilden-mann.ch
    We enjoyed our hotel, the Romantik Hotel Wilden Mann. It is overpriced, but so is most of Luzern! I booked a junior suite with air conditioning, to allow us to shut the windows against the city noises, and still be cool enough on a summer night to sleep. This plan worked out great. I did pay a fortune for the room...475 CHF per night. This included the best breakfast on our entire trip! It was a typical European style breakfast, only they made it special. One morning we got up early and the fresh breads were still warm. The cheese selection was nice. Even the home-made jams were labeled...my favorite was home-made chili raspberry preserves. Jam with a little spice...yum! They also had a good selection of fruits, cereals, and even hot bacon and eggs. The breakfast was served in a charming historical room. Coffee was brought to me in a little silver coffee pot. I ordered coffee every day just to get the silver pot! After 3 nights at this hotel we ended up wishing we had 4 nights there instead of only 3.

    The only problem with our room was the shower was odd...the wall had an inconvenient obstruction right at your head level, so that when you showered you had to be very careful to keep your head from either hitting the wall or running into the shower curtain. I think the problem was caused by remodeling in a historic building. Next time I would still stay there again, but I would ask for a different shower.

    I don't think its possible to sleep in the city of Luzern without the ability to shut your windows at night. This means you need air conditioning in the summer. That is my opinion. The Wilden Mann is on a relatively quiet street near the river, but not on the river, which I liked. (The hotels right on the river are in the noisiest location...the riverfront is a very busy area in the summer with lots of noise.) So the Wilden Mann is relatively quiet, for Luzern. Note that only their junior suites have air conditioning, and the junior suites are the pricier rooms in the hotel.

    That's all for Luzern! Now we are ready to move onto the heart of our trip: The Berner Oberland, where we spent 11 nights total (5 nights in Murren and 6 nights in Wengen.) I have some creative writing that I wrote in the Berner Oberland, and I'm looking forward to writing my trip report on the Berner Oberland with the aid of my descriptive notes.

    Thanks for everyone's patience!

    TO BE CONTINUED: COMING UP NEXT: BERNER OBERLAND WITH MURREN AND WENGEN

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    Melissa thank you for your trip report, I am in the process of planning a trip to Switzerland and I think your report will help me decide where to go. I love all the details. Thanks.

    Switzerland experts, how cold does it get in November? Thanks

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    Usually it is colder, grey, foggy and wet in November.

    It can be amazingly warm and beautiful in the mountains in November.

    No one can tell you what the weather will be like.

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    Even if it is colder, grey, foggy etc in the mountains in November, the cities and towns can still be quite pleasant...Bern, Basel, Luzern, St. Gallen, Lausanne, etc. Some say Switzerland is all about the mountains (or rather Switzerland's special combination of mountains and water) but I like the cities as well.

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    cafegoddess: thanks for your comments. I'm working on the Murren and Wengen sections of my trip report and I'll post them here as soon as I can. I used the forums to decide where to stay when we were planning our trip. It is great fun to "see" Switzerland through the eyes of so many different travelers! You will love Switzerland. It's gorgeous in the Berner Oberland. I don't know anything about the weather in November, but Ruth Suter at Hotel Bellevue in Murren told me her favorite time is September and October, because the weather is generally still clear, and the colors on the mountains are especially beautiful. I think she means the way that the mountains turn colors as they reflect (or absorb) the light.

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    Melissa - thanks ever so much for such an engaging an enthusiastic report - absolutely delightful!
    We had our first visit to this region last year in early July and can't wait to find a time to go back. We stayed in the Alpenrose - but it wasn't really for us (especially the very rushed multi course dinner we had one evening) - guess we like a bit more flexibility and might go for an apartment next time. Mind you we had a wonderful meal at Hotel Bären sitting outside one evening and would eat there again!

    We have a window of a few days in mid September when we will be in Europe and are trying to decide if we will take the risk and hope for OK weather.
    Like you Melissa I don't really enjoy 'gloom' weather - although it is mid winter here and fortunately today we have 17C and sunshine - but we do complain if it gets downs to 12 or 13C and there is no sun.

    Looking forward to the next installment.

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    Melissa5 - Thanks for a wonderful report of your stay in Switzerland. My husband and I will be going in a couple of months, and reading about others' experiences keeps me excited. I look forward to the rest of your report!

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    love_travel_Aus: Thanks for your comments. You might be interested in the opinion expressed by Ruth Suter at Hotel Bellevue in Murren. She says that September and October are her favorite time of year, because there is often clear weather for days, and she feels the colors on the mountains are most beautiful at that time of year. (I think she means the way that the mountains reflect or absorb the light...the way they change colors is gorgeous...)

    drchris: I appreciate your comments. Have a beautiful trip! We met 2 doctors staying at the Hotel Bellevue in Murren, and they have been returning there for years. They say that they return in both June and August...in June for the flowers, and again in August because the weather is warmer and more comfortable for the hikes up in the higher altitudes.

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    MURREN, BERNER OBERLAND: Schilthorn, Allmendhubel, Northface-Trail, Gimmelwald

    Introduction: Murren & Berner Oberland

    Ruth and Othmar Suter's Hotel Bellevue in Murren was our home away from home for 5 cozy nights in late June. The delightful village of Murren was my “first love” in the Alps. The Hotel Bellevue in Murren is my favorite hotel overall on our Swiss trip, and my favorite base for hikes and activities. The car-free village of Murren is just big enough to have a few restaurant choices and a few stores, yet small enough to satisfy my dream of staying in an Alpine village.

    My 2 favorite activities in Switzerland were both accessed from our home base of Murren. My favorite days in Switzerland are the astonishing North-face trail above Murren, which was exploding with a riot of wildflowers in every color in late June...and the cable car ride up to the Schilthorn, where we enjoyed inspiring panoramic views from the terrace outside of the Piz Gloria restaurant.

    Why did I like Murren better than Wengen? Is it because Murren became my “first love”, my first experience of the incredible Berner Oberland? Is it because I enjoyed our room at the friendly Hotel Bellevue in Murren? Is it because Murren is smaller than Wengen? Is it because the hikes accessible from Murren seemed less crowded than those accessible from Wengen? Maybe all of the above.

    Journey: Luzern to Murren

    From Luzern, we took the scenic train to Interlaken, train to Lauterbrunnen, cable car up to Grutschalp, train to Murren. It was a gorgeous journey from Luzern to Murren, although a little bit challenging with luggage, but definitely doable. From the Murren train station we couldn't locate a public phone, so we asked a kind employee in the nearest hotel to phone Hotel Bellevue for us. Hotel Bellevue sent someone to pick up us and our luggage for the short ride to the Hotel Bellevue in Murren. (We could have walked but didn't want to drag our luggage.)

    Hotel Bellevue, Murren: ((Y))
    Ruth & Othmar Suter
    www.muerren.ch/bellevue
    Location: very central; easy walk to the Co-op store for groceries, and short walk to the Allmendhubel cable car and restaurants.

    Room 23: newly refurbished with “Swiss country” decor
    Ruth at Hotel Bellevue in Murren greeted us with a friendly smile and gave us hiking brochures and info. She told us with pride that our room was special, one-of-a-kind, and it was so new that we were the first guests to stay in it.

    We were delighted with our charming room 23 on the 2nd floor. We had the “new, romantic superior double room on 2nd floor with balcony and best mountain view” for 210 CHF per night. This was the most atmospheric & comfortable room for the best price on our Swiss trip.

    As soon as we entered the room, the pleasing scent of new cedar wood greeted us. We threw open all 3 sets of windows and opened the closet and bathroom door, as the wood was so new that the closed room needed some fresh air. The fresh mountain air of the summer days greeted us every day in our room, and we were delighted that the hotel is in a quiet enough location so that we could throw open the windows and still have a quiet night's sleep.

    Two windows plus a set of French doors open to a wonderful view of the Alps from the room. You can see the Alps from the balcony, from the bed, and, if you are tall enough, you can even see the mountains while sitting up in the old-fashioned wooden bathtub in the bathroom!

    In addition to the wooden bathtub, the bathroom has a very modern and attractive shower...the best shower of all 4 hotels on our Swiss trip!

    The room has 1 ½ bathrooms...one with the toilet, and one with the bathtub and shower. Two sinks in the bigger bathroom, and 1 sink in the smaller bathroom.

    Ruth Suter has designed this room to be in a “traditional Swiss country” style...it has a unique feel, both rustic and yet luxurious at the same time...and romantic. Like most Swiss hotel rooms, it has the 2 beds pushed together, but the mattresses were new. This is one of the most uniquely designed rooms I have ever stayed in, and a lot of love went into creating this room. This room seems both humble and proud at the same time. The longer you spend in the room, the more little special touches you discover.

    Ruth told me that 2 rooms in the hotel are designed to be unique, including this one...and the other rooms have more of a modern feel.

    We HAVE to stay in this room again on our next trip to the Berner Oberland! It has the right “country” feel, like it belongs in the Alps...without sacrificing any comforts. LOVED the room and the hotel.

    Breakfast With A View: Hotel Bellevue, Murren:
    The Hotel Bellevue in Murren has an outdoor dining deck with a wonderful view of the mountains. During our stay we enjoyed enough sunny mornings to eat breakfast outside for 5 beautiful mornings. For breakfast we enjoyed hot coffee with warmed milk, hot tea, good local cheeses, Alp butter, deli-style cold cuts (thin slices of meats), cold boiled eggs, yogurt, muesli & cereals, dried fruits, fresh fruits, jams & preserves. We enjoyed all of this outside on the deck with a beautiful view of the Alps!

    Dinner at Hotel Bellevue:
    My husband and I enjoyed 3 dinners at our Hotel Bellevue in Murren. I tried the local deer and enjoyed the meal. I also liked the Rosti (hash browns) with smoked salmon and sour cream. The stuffed pork was also tasty.

    Jungfrau Reverie: Alps in the Night: View From Murren

    :-XThe beauty of the Alps changes in the light, day and night. From our windows, French doors, and balcony at Hotel Bellevue in Murren, I tried to capture the haunting beauty of the Jungfrau at night with a pen and my journal. Below I'm sharing what I was inspired to write while gazing at the awesome Alps from my balcony, including the lower peak of the Jungfrau. From this vantage point, the stunning lower peaks block the sight of the highest Jungfrau peak, which will be revealed to us later in our journey.

    “A mountain peak of the Jungfrau range with its white snowy head glows softly in the moonlight against the night. The moon is round tonight and gently puts the village below to sleep. Murren sleeps, pretty Murren, looking prettier in her sleep. And there are mountain shadows against the night sky. If I had an alphorn I would want to welcome the sun when she comes and sing the moon to sleep. Oh Murren, under the mighty Jungfrau, reveal your mystery and might.

    Sleep eludes me, but in the quiet of the night, the mountains call to me. I want to paint a portrait with words. There is no peace like contemplating a mountain peak.

    The village below with the Swiss chalet roofs is sleeping. I am awash in impressions and no words to describe them. Contrasts in the night...

    Jungfrau dominates with her white cold cap...other mountains are dark shapes shrounded in mist. Oh glorious mountain beauty! A moon-lit mystery.. A gift from our Maker! I feel a quiet joy, a reverence for the mountain”.

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    HIKES & SITES ACCESSIBLE FROM MURREN:

    --Northface Trail
    (From Murren, take the Allmendhubel cable car up to access the trail.)
    Allmendhubel-Blumental-Schiltalp-Spielbodenalp-Murren
    Time: 2 hours :-? (posted on sign)
    (Actual Time: 5 hours :-D with frequent stops for photos, flower viewing, journaling, and a refreshing pause for a bowl of hot soup at the last farmhouse.)

    --Mountain View Trail
    (From Murren, take Allmendhubel cable car up to access trail.)
    Allmendhubel-Dorenhubel-Grutschalp
    Time: 1 hr. 30 minutes (posted on sign)
    (Actual time: we took about 2 1/2 hours)

    --Schilthorn & Piz Gloria
    From Murren, take the Schilthornbahn cable car up to Piz Gloria restaurant.
    www.schilthorn.ch
    Panoramic views from deck outside of the Piz Gloria restaurant on a clear day! Awesome! ((*))

    --Murren to Gimmelwald
    We walked from Murren down to the tiny quaint village of Gimmelwald. It takes about 40 minutes to walk down and there are lovely views along the way. We had lunch in Gimmelwald at the Pension Gimmelwald, where I enjoyed the best salad in Switzerland, fresh from their organic garden, topped with delicious, tender, cold smoked salmon. Yummy on a summer day! There is a lovely view from the patio at the restaurant. Walk through the quaint little village. (Don't confuse tiny Gimmelwald with the much bigger Grindelwald.)

    The walks and sites above are the ones we enjoyed, accessible from Murren. There are numerous other hikes to choose from! Murren is a great base for hiking. You can get out on a trail and pace yourself so that you have a piece of the trail to yourself. Even in the high summer season, there is plenty of space for everyone and the trails that are accessible from Murren don't feel crowded. That is another reason that I preferred Murren as a base over Wengen.

    The following are more details about our walks and sites (accessible from Murren):

    Northface Trail: A Riot of Wildflowers

    The Northface Trail above Murren was magical! >:D< It was my favorite hike in all of Switzerland, and my husband loved it as well. We were overjoyed to discover vast green meadows and hillsides blooming with carpets of wildflowers in every color and shape imaginable, as well as incredible views of the Alps. You also pass by several “alps” or farms, and will encounter cows with cowbells. When the “alps” or farms are open they sell cheese and snacks and have a toilet.

    During our walk in late June on the Northface trail, only the last “alp” or farmhouse on the trail was open. The cows were coming home...the toilet was clean for us to use...and we enjoyed a hot bowl of homemade vegetable soup and a sandwich with fresh bread and cheese before finishing the gorgeous trail. It appears that some of the farmhouses don't open til July.

    From Murren, take the scenic Allmendhubel cable car up to the restaurant. Get a sandwich to go from the restaurant. Then follow sings towards Sonnenberg to find the start of the Northface trail. Look for the blue signs and follow the signs for the Northface trail. Memorable views of the Alps and astonishing flowery meadows! WOW! The views from the Northface trail surpassed our wildest imagination. My biologist husband and I had never seen or even dreamed of such an incredible diversity of wildflowers! Locals said it was a late spring this year, so the wildflowers on this trail in late June might have been at their peak.

    Another local said there will be wildflowers above Murren all summer, just different ones blooming at different times. Most people seemed to agree the best wildflower viewing above Murren is at the end of June.

    Below I am sharing some creative writing from my journal, written from the Northface trail above Murren:

    Northface trail: Panoramic mountain views (above Murren):
    I am surrounded by dense carpets of purple and yellow wildflowers in green meadows and hillsides, and awesome snow-capped mountains. I keep expecting to see Heidi pop out of the flowery meadows, wearing a flower crown in her hair. The rushing sound of a ribbon of waterfalls plunging down the mountain serenades me...WOW!

    The wildflower colors are exciting: magenta, violet, purple, straw-color, baby blue, white... Colorful dense patches of flowers are growing right near the restaurant at Allmendhubel. HEAVEN!

    The sounds of birdsong and the rushing shushing waterfall are the mountain chorus.

    Further along the Northface trail:
    There are so many wildflowers...thousands or millions on the slope...it is like a mountain tapestry. Here is a pale violet orchid. The wildflowers here in the Alps form a carpet that is way denser than anything we can find in our California desert. The Alps are exploding with a riot of color as hundreds of different species of wildflowers burst into bloom in an astonishing display! Slopes and meadows are giddy with flowers, as if the glacial valley is laughing joyfully.

    It's amazing to see the riot of wildflowers and then lift my eyes to take in the mighty snow-capped peaks in one sweeping gaze. No hurry. This is the stairway to paradise. The journey is the destination... The journey is the reward.

    The silent mountains are accompanied by lovely sounds: birdsong, cowbells tinkling, waterfall rushing in the distance, the gentle sound of the breeze blowing softly in my ears...

    Here are Ladies thumbs, beautiful flowers with light purple or pink shades...a flower shaped like a mini skinny pine-cone. The variety of colors and shapes of each flower is astonishing.

    TO BE CONTINUED: MURREN & WENGEN, BERNER OBERLAND...

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    PalenQ: What really happened is that I fell wildly madly in love with Switzerland and especially with the Berner Oberland! I also found Luzern and the Urnersee to be lovely and memorable. I found the cable car rides to be delightfully scenic and surprisingly, not a bit scary. (I do have some fear of heights but I thought the cable car rides were fun!)

    What really happened is that both my husband and I were so entranced with all the lovely mountain walks with gorgeous scenery and such a mad riot of colorful wildflowers...that we agreed not to take the train up to the Jungfrau on this trip. We didn't want to miss a day of hiking in gorgeous weather...we loved both the wildflowers and the spectacular views of the Alps!

    What really happened is that I loved the views from all the trains, but whenever a train went inside of a tunnel, even a short tunnel, I did feel nervous. But daylight reappeared in a short time so there wasn't enough time to get claustrophobic. But I was relieved when my husband said he didn't want to take the train up to the Jungfrau!

    What really happened is that none of my shoes would carry me over the mountain or even on the cobble-stoned streets without my feet hurting. SO I bought a new pair of hiking shoes in Luzern which worked out great!

    Now I am missing Switzerland very much...and enjoying working on this very long trip report. I still have some more to write...and when I eventually get this trip report finished about the incredibly unbelievably gorgeous Switzerland...well, then I am about to start planning our first trip to South Africa...a whole new continent for me to be nervous about, and to discover its delights! (-:

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    Schilthorn & Piz Gloria ((Y))
    From Murren, take the Schilthornbahn cable car up to Piz Gloria restaurant.
    www.schilthorn.ch
    Discount: 50% discount for tickets with our Swiss Passes.

    My favorite 2 activities in Switzerland were our hike on the gorgeous Northface trail above Murren, and taking the cable car up to the Schilthorn for the fabulous views from the terrace outside Piz Gloria. Both of these activities are conveniently accessible from Murren. Both require a scenic cable car ride. (Well unless you want to walk up!!!)

    We both think that the Schilthorn is under-rated. It was a fantastic and memorable experience. On a clear day, the views from the terrace outside of the Piz Gloria restaurant up at the Schilthorn are stunning! We enjoyed panoramic views in all directions, and we could see all the way to the lakes surrounding Interlaken and beyond.

    We spent about 3 hours up at the Schilthorn, after arriving on the Schilthornbahn cable car from Murren. The best part was spending time outside on the terrace for uninterrupted panoramic views in all directions! It's cold up there even in June, so we wore all of our warm clothes, and I still got too cold to stand outside too long, so I had to duck inside the heated restaurant or gift shop to get warmed up a few times.

    My husband enjoyed the panoramic views, plus the sight of a couple of paragliders taking off from nearby...and he also sited a rare bird. I enjoyed the spectacular views, which inspired me to write in my journal:

    Inspiring View at the Schilthorn:

    I am standing outside on the view terrace at the Schilthorn. It's a sunny, briskly cold, beautiful day. Am I this close to heaven? I see Murren far below.

    The impressive Jungfrau peak looks like a sleeping man covered with a white blanket, with his feet propped up on a pillow. And there are the glorious peaks of the Monch and the Eiger.

    White clouds overhead wait patiently in a blue sky. A finger of cloud has crept in front of the Eiger, offering a pretty contrast to the charcoal and white colors of the Eiger peak. The Alps are painted in the sky in beautiful colors, subtle and classically elegant...white and charcoal Alpine peaks atop a green and grey mountain...below that grasses and mosses...then the deeper green of the subalpine level with trees. The moody Alps are wearing white ribbons of snow fingers or waterfalls.

    My husband the biologist explains to me that trees grow at the subalpine level and below because they have enough oxygen. There are no trees at the Alpine level because there isn't enough oxygen. So we have the Alpine level at the top, bare without any trees; then the subalpine level below that with trees, then the temperate forest below that. Standing up here at the Schilthorn, at 2970 meters or 9,744 feet, I can see the different layers of the Alps.

    Absorbing my science lesson of the day, I take some more time to myself to write in my journal and soak up the awesome Alps from 9,744 feet!

    The sun and clouds above paint light and shadows on the majestic Alps. I hear rushing shushing sounds...the wind? The slow soft rumbling of the glacier? Waterfalls? Paragliders soar against the blue sky like large and colorful bright orange & black birds.

    My ears are cold. My nose is cold. My hands are cold. My heart is glad. (-: My spirit is full of the mysterious wonder of the Alps, ancient...solid...towering...so still. I think my feet have shrunk in my shoes from the cold.

    Below the terrace of the Piz Gloria there are both snowy paths and green slopes, and fingers of skinny waterfalls... A black bird soars close by me.

    I love the sight of Lake Thunersee, blue and huge even from this height. A light filter like a thin gauze lies over my lake view...atmosphere? UV? The Alps are completely clear and crisp...only the distant sites below like the lakes and the more distant lower peaks are seen through this thin veil.

    The orange paraglider swoops right over the view terrace before he turns and heads down over the railing. Whew – looked like he would land on us. I could have tossed him a sandwich on his way by.

    OK freezing outside now. I must go inside to get warm...I'm wearing a t-shirt, fleece, vest, and waterproof windproof unlined Marmot jacket. Brrr! Summer on the height of the Alps at over 9,000 feet is cold even in summer!

    Oh! Now I see Brienzersee...the other lake! Got to go inside before my cold feet shrink to the size of elf feet.

    Oh mountain majestic...what Alpen bliss! I thank the Creator for thee.
    What splendid colors - greens, icy white, and strong charcoal colors - the creator artist has mastered here! What awesome shapes, oh, sweeping, pointing, jutting, thrusting, Alpine peaks. Wow! Splendor! Majesty! Beauty. This is the most splendid Alpine mountain spectacle I will ever witness.

    Thank you to the Swiss for the ingenuity and industriousness it took to get us up here...over 9,000 feet high in the Alps!

    Lunch time passed...felt weak suddenly...time to go inside Piz Gloria for lunch. I ordered Spaghetti James Bond 007 for CHF 22.50. Pasta with olives, fresh mushrooms, tomato sauce and “bacon”. But I had sausage in mine...it wasn't bacon. Piquant...good, considering diners up here are a captive audience. My husband had Hungarian goulash soup for CHF 11.80. He liked it but I tasted his and I thought the soup was too greasy for my tastes. Also had hot chocolate earlier which was decent. It was pleasant watching the scenery go by as we dined inside the revolving Piz Gloria restaurant.

    My husband walked outside after lunch, watched the paragliders launching, photographed a few wildflowers, and searched for edelweiss. We saw 2 different species of birds soaring up here. What a fantastic day!

    COMING UP NEXT: MURREN, WENGEN, AND LAUTERBRUNNEN...continued

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    Ah, the Schilthorn... You've brought back fond memories of my 19th anniversary, when my husband and I took the cable car to the Schilthorn despite the wind, sleet and non-existent visibility, to watch a Swiss Folk pageant.

    The previous day we'd seen the Schilthorn in all her glory, so the lack of views didn't matter. We whiled away the afternoon in Piz Gloria drinking wine and listening to local musicians – just us and a handful of other tourists - so we pretty much had the place to ourselves. The highlight of the day came when all the musicians bundled up in their coats, positioned themselves on the viewing terrace and started playing their Alphorns...in the snow. It was a lot of fun, and worth the hangover.

    Enjoying your report Melissa.

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    "Both require a scenic cable car ride. (Well unless you want to walk up!!!)"

    Or run up! :o

    Yes, it's true! Each August, there's a triathlon event where the running portion ENDS at the Schilthorn!!

    One year, we were lucky to take it all in -- on the big deck, watching the athletes cross the finish line. The costumed band was playing, TV cameras and reporters were getting interviews while the athletes were then wrapped in what looked like golden tinfoil blankets, exhausted, spent, some literally collapsing as they crossed the finish line. To watch them run UP the mountain -- well, it was unbelievable.

    The race begins by swimming in the Thunersee, then a bike ride from Oberhofen to Grindelwald to Stechelberg, then the run.

    http://www.inferno.ch/index.php?page=269

    In the evening there's a huge party in Murren. Such fun!!

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    Melnq8: Your experience at the Schilthorn sounds very unique and memorable! Alphorns in the cold sleet at 9744 feet! Those Swiss musicians must love their music, to be so dedicated that they would go up there and play in that weather... Well maybe they like it best that way, the alphorns and the music right up against the drama of nature! Thank you for sharing that unique experience. It sounds like a grand 19th anniversary!:-X Was there any yodeling? We heard yodeling in one folkloric evening in Lauterbrunnen...it was so lovely and haunting and beautiful.

    swisshiker: My admiration for those Swiss athletes deepens! I felt vertically challenged just walking up and down a few hills in the Berner Oberland! One of the women we met in Wengen runs up from Wengen every day. I can't remember where she runs up to. All I heard were the words "run" and "up"! Very impressive. Thanks for sharing that info about the athletes. I'm glad you were there to witness them crossing the "finish" line.

    cjbpjb: Yes I will be posting a link to our photos as soon as I can. My husband has been trying to organize them and label them so that we can choose the best ones and figure out how to share them. I'm not a computer whiz but we can get it done together. Happy dreaming!

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    Mountain View Trail (above Murren)
    Allmendhubel-Dorenhubel-Grutschalp

    From Murren, we took the scenic Allmendhubel cable car up to access the Mountain View Trail.
    Ask at your hotel, at the Info Center, or at the cable car station for the free hiking map. The front of the map for this side of the valley says “Schilthorn Piz Gloria”, so I kept forgetting that it was actually a hiking map.

    The mountain view trail is listed as a hike of 1 hr. 30 minutes (posted on sign). Our actual hiking time was about 2 1/2 hours. (The hiking times don't account for stopping to take photos, to admire the views, or to write in your journal.)

    There are wildflowers blooming and gorgeous views of the Eiger, Monch, and the Jungfrau from the trail...even with a few puffs of clouds in front of some of the mountains, it is a very beautiful and sunny day. Birdsong reaches our ears.

    Without sunglasses, at 12:50 in the afternoon... The snow-covered Alps are so brilliantly reflecting the sunlight...it is stunning to behold. The fluffy white clouds and the brilliant pure white snow against the dark rock of the mountain present a beautiful contrast. Beneath that stunning display is a green hillside with trees...beneath that a green slope with bright yellow, violet, pink and orchid colored flowers. Distant cowbells jangle... Pinch me...did I dream this?

    NOTE: Bring your sunglasses. BUT if you wear prescription lenses that automatically turn into sunglasses...make sure you also bring a pair of regular glasses with you that aren't sunglasses. The reason is that the light in the mountains is constantly changing, and sometimes the best colors are the ones you observe without any sunglasses. I was very regretful the day I hiked on the mountain wearing only my prescription lenses which automatically turn into sunglasses in the light. The light on the mountain changed in such a way that my darkened sunglasses prevented me from seeing the true colors of the flowers in the natural light. I kept taking off my prescription sunglasses to enjoy the flowers in the natural light, but since I'm so near-sighted, they looked very blurry this way! 8-) O-)

    While the mountain view trail was beautiful, if I had to pick just one favorite hiking trail in the Berner Oberland, the Northface trail was my favorite. (Note that both of these trails have wildflowers in June, and also views of the Alps.)

    Flower Trail:
    From the Allmendhubel cable car station, there is also a “Flower Trail”, listed on the map as a hike of 1 hr. and 15 minutes...(that probably means 2 hours in reality if you stop to photograph and examine the flowers!) Note that we didn't take this trail. But I can't imagine it has more flowers than we found on the Northface trail!

    Murren To Gimmelwald Walk

    There is a scenic walk from Murren to the tiny village of Gimmelwald. This was the first walk we did in the area, since it's only about 40 minutes one-way. We started on the paved path marked “Gimmelwald” behind the Jagerstubli restaurant in Murren. A little ways along the paved path, we veered to the left onto the little walking trail, which I believe was marked as “Wander”, or something like that.

    There's a beautiful view while standing at Murrenbach waterfall on the paved path. It's a sunny day with clear blue sky. The colors dazzle me: the white majestic mountain peak, a green forested area, green trees and foliage. The white rushing waterfall tumbles headlong downhill. The mountain colors are the earthy tones of rock: muted beige, green, and grey. What an awesome day!

    The white waterfall is plunging into green forested canyon. Wildflowers appear along the paved path...yellow and violet. Lazy insects flit among the flowers. Birdsong is almost overpowered by the waterfall crescendo. Wow! The white mountain tops with green forested slopes are gorgeous.

    Past the falls, contented cows are swishing their tails, their bells tinkling. The mountain chorus includes cowbells, birdsong, and waterfall. Can't write now...I must bask in the beauty!

    Lunch: Pension Gimmelwald ((Y))

    In the tiny village of Gimmelwald, we enjoyed lunch outside at Pension Gimmelwald on their view terrace. I ordered a special of the day, which was a delicious salad of local organic greens, plus fruits and veggies, topped with a good cold smoked salmon. This was the best salad I had in Switzerland...and that is saying a lot, because we enjoyed delicious seasonal salad greens with fresh fruit and veggies almost every day in Switzerland! Another great reason to visit Switzerland in the summer!

    We enjoyed a stroll through the tiny quaint village of Gimmelwald. We would have bought some cheese, but the farmers were busy out in the fields.

    Note that we didn't sleep in Gimmelwald, but we enjoyed our walk there and our lunch. It seems that sleeping in Gimmelwald is popular with youth.
    www.pensiongimmelwald.com

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    MURREN: BEST DINING:

    Our favorite 2 places to eat in Murren were:

    --Hotel Bellevue (outside dining terrace with a view or inside restaurant.)
    www.muerren.ch/bellevue

    --Restaurant La Grotte at Hotel Blumental
    (our favorite dish: chicken breast with port wine sauce and black cherries, plus side of noodles. Favorite desert: apfel kuchlein – fried apple rings)
    www.muerren.ch/blumental

    WORST FOOD IN SWITZERLAND:
    We enjoyed good food throughout Switzerland, whether we dined at restaurants, or popped into bakeries or grocery stores for a quick sandwich. We only had 1 bad dining experience in Switzerland. ((N)) The food at Hotel Edelweiss in Murren, at their self-service cafe, was so tasteless and boring that I must say they have the worst pizza in the world. We ate there because it was in the Rick Steves guidebook, and it has the best view of the Lauterbrunnen valley from the outside dining terrace. However the pizza I ordered for lunch did NOT have “real” mozzarella cheese on it, although it was listed on the menu as mozzarella. There was no “stretch” in the cheese, and furthermore, the cheese had no taste at all, nor did it have the texture of real cheese. It was the only “poor” cheese that we had in Switzerland! The tomato sauce didn't have any taste either. There were other toppings on the pizza...they were ok but had not been flavored either. (tuna and artichoke hearts were among the other toppings. I normally enjoy pizza with all sorts of toppings...and lots of flavor!) My husband and I both tasted my pizza and pronounced it the worst pizza we have ever had in the entire world! And we have tasted LOTS Of pizza. Plus it wasn't cheap either. My husband ordered a hamburger and fries and it was ok...not as bad as the pizza...but it wasn't anything special either. You can eat good food elsewhere for the same price!!! (I should have known not to order the pizza, because when someone else ordered the pizza, it didn't smell like pizza either. Pizza normally should smell wonderful.)

    Please note that we enjoyed good pizza at other places in Switzerland, including in Wengen.

    I am betting that Rick Steves never actually tasted the pizza before he listed the Hotel Edelweiss in the dining section of his guidebook! Note that many hotels and restaurants in Switzerland are advertising their inclusion in Rick Steves guidebook to attract more customers.

    For the rest of the trip, we didn't use Rick Steves guidebook for food. Instead, for dining recommendations we used Fodors guidebook, Lonely Planet guidebook, the pages on Wengen and the Berner Oberland from kim hawley on tripadvisor, and any recommendations from on-line travelers. (This isn't the first time that we have eaten at a restaurant recommended in the Rick Steves guidebook and been very disappointed. But it will be the last time!)

    THAT'S IT FOR MURREN! I fell in love with Switzerland in Murren, and the next time we return to Switzerland, we will return to the Hotel Bellevue in Murren as our base for exploring the Berner Oberland. (Of course we will also add someplace new as well...that's part of the adventure!)

    COMING UP NEXT: WENGEN & LAUTERBRUNNEN & more BERNER OBERLAND ADVENTURES

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    Wow! What a great report!I feel like I am right beside you... I have been hoping to go there but so far all mental preparations have not become reality yet. I certainly will also keep in mind all your wonderful pieces of information.

    Looking forward to the next installment!

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    Your comment re Hotel Edelweiss rings such a bell!

    Our first time staying at this hotel we tried their restaurant for dinner - big mistake! Can't remember even what we had, but I do remember it was pretty mediocre.

    However, we do enjoy their terrace for rosti or an ice cream sundae in the late afternoon. And their cliff-edge views are the best in town, IMHO.

    Re hiking times: We always have to double the posted hiking times as well. Too many photo ops along the way! ((f))

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    Great report! You leave me very little to add. We spent the first week of July in the Jungfrau region, and had a fantastic time. There is so much to see and do, that we MUST return very soon. Paragliding in Grindelwald was just the best of the best! Also had spaghetti James Bond with "bacon." It was very good. We also wandered the building to find the James Bond theater. It showed an excerpt of the movie, and the kids really got a feel for where we were. It was while dining there that we really got the paragliding bug. Watching them float and glide overhead was overpowering. I suggest it to everyone. We will stay in Grindelwald next time. Great place for kids and the young at heart.

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    TravMimi: PLEASE do post a trip report! It's always fun to see Switzerland through new eyes. I will be looking for your trip report. My husband almost went paragliding and now we have another reason to return to Switzerland so he can go paragliding. (He went hang gliding in his youth.) As for me, reading your trip report is as close to hanging in the sky that you are going to find me! Regarding trip reports, tell us what YOU really felt and experienced. You have a lot more to add than you realize. 8-) The forums are generally fairly quiet on Friday and Saturday, so if you haven't started posting your trip report, start posting it on Sunday is my advice, as the forums get busier again on Sunday. Families will also enjoy reading what your kids enjoyed. I think I see your title already..."ParaGliding in Grindelwald: My Switzerland Trip Report July 2010". Ah that's the endless writer in me...I'm writing my report and yours as well! :-P Feel free to use this title or make up a better one! Just write! There is one writer who has a saying about writing...she says Just Open A Vein...

    swisshiker: I'm glad to hear that someone else has to double the hiking times as well! I thought we were just slow. How can you go galloping past all that splendid scenery, and not stop to admire it or take photos? I stopped for journal writing, and I saw some artists out there sketching and painting. I agree that getting a drink or desert in order to admire the views from the Hotel Edelweiss terrace would be ok...just not any meals! :&

    lincasanova: Oh you will love it! :-X Enjoy dreaming about your first trip to Switzerland. Dreaming is the first fun stage. Then there is planning which is like a 1st trip. Then there is your REAL trip which is like your 2nd trip. Then there is writing the trip report which is like your 3rd trip. SO you get 3 trips for the price of one! I've been home about a week or so...and we've done a lot of traveling to a lot of places. But no place else in the world has caused us to walk around for so many days in San Diego seeing a "mirage" in the air. My husband and I agree we are walking around "seeing" imaginary Alps towering over San Diego...we are seeing awesome vertical dimensions that aren't really here. We are also seeing entire hillsides and meadows laughing in flowers...when all we are looking at is someone's little garden. Our imagination is still flooded with images. The Berner Oberland is just awesome! I will share our photos but warning...you CANNOT photograph the Berner Oberland...because its so panoramic...and the camera only picks up a tiny slice of that...and besides we aren't photographers so the light is never right...but its still fun to have photos and some of them turned out good. I MISS SWITZERLAND AND ESPECIALLY BERNER OBERLAND!

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    WENGEN & BERNER OBERLAND

    After our 5 nights in Murren, we moved over to Wengen for 6 nights. (That is one solution if you can't decide where to stay!)

    Someone on the travel forums said that Murren and Wengen are like 2 peas in a pod, but I experienced them as being entirely different.

    While we did enjoy our stay in Wengen, I felt as if I'd left my heart in Murren! There is something about Murren and the Hotel Bellevue in Murren that made me feel so at home in a cozy way in the incredibly stunning Berner Oberland.

    As soon as we moved over to Wengen, there were a few differences that I experienced right away. One is that Wengen does have a bit more choice when it comes to restaurants. Another difference is that Wengen feels much bigger and more spread out, to me, and also appeared to have more multi-story buildings, which do block some of the view of the Alps.

    My advice is: GET A ROOM WITH A VIEW! One of our favorite things about Wengen was enjoying our room with a nice view looking across a meadow at the Alps in the distance. We saw the Alps changing in the morning light, in the evening light, and after the rain one evening. (In Murren we also had a room with a gorgeous view of the Alps.)

    Hotel Berghaus, Wengen

    Hotel Berghaus is in a quiet area a short walk uphill from the main street, past a little church. We liked the location, as it was charming, quiet, and still convenient.

    We stayed for 6 nights at the Hotel Berghaus. The hotel is run by Martina Fontana and her father. Their personal service was helpful and friendly overall.

    I must also say that the food at the Hotel Berghaus is good if you do half-board for dinner and its a good price. Our 3 dinners were excellent. The breakfast included with the room is ok for a couple of mornings, but after 6 mornings it is a little limited and feels repetitive.

    There are a couple of things that need improving at Hotel Berghaus in my opinion. For example, the towels in our bathroom smelled musty. One young male employee in the dining area preferred to argue when we asked him for anything. This hotel is difficult to review because there are many things they do really well, and some things they need to work on.

    View of the Alps from our balcony:

    I am sitting on our balcony at Hotel Berghaus, enjoying a rainy/overcast day. Our room 115 has a nice balcony with a view of the Alps across a meadow.

    Time to relax and soak in the mountain view, beautiful even on this overcast day. There is a quiet side street below me, and a patio...beyond is a green meadow and a few buildings beyond the meadow...then a forested green hillside rises and is topped by the snow-capped Alps. The Alps are glowing because the sun is struggling through the clouds.

    I am savoring a bite of Ballenberg chocolate...smooth and delicious!

    I can see the Manlichen cable car going up now and then. It's interesting to watch.

    Sunset after the Rain with Alphorn Serenade!

    One evening after the rain, the sun shone through the clouds, casting a bright spotlight on the Alps! Mountain magic. The moody Alps...beautiful in every mood, rain or shine. (My husband captured a photo of this glorious moment!)

    Mist floats on top of the trees. Above the treeline, spreading around me almost 180 degrees as far as I can see from the balcony, rocky mountains are glowing a warm color in the evening sun – and the snow-covered Alps reflect the light. A mysterious alphorn plays somewhere, with long moody notes...an Alpine serenade... Birds are tweeting, the bells on sheep or goats are tinkling... “Maaaaaa!” says one sheep (or is that a goat?) Alpine poetry!

    The contrast is beautiful. The white Alpen snow reflects the light, creating a snow-glow; while the dark rock of the mountain absorbs the light, swallowing the light. One peak glows almost pink as the sun sets out of sight in this cloudy magical Alpen twilight.

    I just realized it may be the 4th of July, and this moment has the magic of fireworks! This hauntingly beautiful sunset was between about 8:00 and 9:15 pm

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    HIKES & ACTIVITIES FROM WENGEN:

    MANLICHEN – KLEINE SCHEIDEGG WALK: :-?

    The Manlichen – Kleine Scheidegg trail was a bit disappointing to me, as it didn't live up to my expectations. The trail was too crowded, and I preferred other more scenic trails in the Berner Oberland. There weren't as many wildflowers on this trail as we'd seen on other trails.

    The Manlichen-Kleine Scheidegg trail is mostly flat, with views of the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau peaks. It is listed as a 1 hr. 20 min. walk. This was probably the easiest walk we did in Switzerland.

    We took the gondola from Wengen up to Mannlichen. After walking the 3 miles from Manlichen to Kleine Scheidegg, we took the train from Kleine Scheidegg back to Wengen.

    The trail was like Grand Central station...way too many people including noisy groups walking. No sense of peace. I sat on a bench to wait for my husband, who had gone off to photograph some newts. I was waiting for a break in the parade of walkers...my plan was to re-enter the trail at a quieter moment. However, the parade of walkers was fairly steady, so I had no choice but to walk in the “parade”. It was around lunch time. Why was the Manlichen-Kleine Scheidegg trail so crowded in early July? Is it because Wengen is bigger, or because its an easy popular trail? I wasn't sure.

    SCHYNIGE PLATTE: TRAIN, HIKE & GARDEN ((Y))

    www.alpengarten.ch

    www.jungfraubahn.ch

    My favorite day-trip from Wengen was to the Schynige Platte.

    We began our journey by taking the trains from Wengen to Lauterbrunnen to Wilderswil. (Wilderswil is the last stop before Interlaken Ost.) There we boarded the historic Schynige Platte Bahn, which is a cogwheel train dating from 1893. For one hour the train slowly ascends to the 6445-foot peak of the Schynige Platte.

    The views of the Alps, Lake Thun, & Lake Brienz from the train are spectacular.

    Then we arrived at Schynigge Platte, where there are mountain hikes with amazing views, and also a pleasant Botanical Alpine Garden.

    At the Schynigge Platte, we had our choice of hiking trails. Even a short hike at the Schynigge Platte reveals stunning views>:D< of the Alps, wildflowers, and the Lakes Thun & Brienz.
    We didn't take the 6-hour high-level hike from Schynige Platte via the Faulhorn to First. Instead we selected a shorter route...labeled as a “Panoramaweg” on the map in the Schynige Platte brochure.

    While on the Panoramaweg trail, we tried to take a shortcut by heading down on a smaller trail below us that was generally parallel to the main trail. However it proved to be far more difficult than it looked...I had to hold onto my husband and proceed excruciatingly slowly in order to keep my footing.:-O So you might want to stay on the main trails! I wonder if we took a shortcut trail meant only for mountain goats?!:-d One group of hikers stopped on the main trail above us to yodel at us. :-P

    We also enjoyed the Botanical Alpine Garden, where you can view over 600 species. The plants and flowers are labeled and lovingly tended.

    This was another beautiful and memorable day in the Alps!((L)) I definitely recommend the trip up to Schynige Platte. There is something incredible to behold up at the Schynige Platte for all visitors, whether you want a short walk or a challenging hike. Just make sure the weather is clear.

    There is a restaurant with a stunning outdoor view terrace up at the Schynige Platte. There is also a food stand.

    (LADIES: If you see a long line outside the door of the ladies room at the Schynige Platte train station...go to the front of the line and jiggle the door handle up and down. The door to the outside is an old-fashioned latch door, and it may stick and feel locked when it's actually NOT locked! Because of this problem a long line of ladies waited for nothing outside the door to the ladies toilets! Once you jiggle the handle and enter the ladies room, there are 3 or 4 toilet stalls inside, which were totally empty!)

    There is a hotel up there called the Berghotel Schynige Platte or Schynige Platte Mountain Hotel . www.schynigeplatte.ch I think if the weather was clear, a 1 or 2-night stay at this hotel would be a very memorable experience! No TV and no telephone, but what a location! I believe the hotel was (is) extended and modernized in 2010. I think there is still some construction going on? I'm not actually sure if the hotel is open. But it struck me...what a great feeling it would be to spend the night up there...and see the stunning views at Schynigge Platte early in the morning, and at sunset!

    BALLENBERG:

    We used 1 entire day to get from Wengen to Ballenberg (round trip), and only had a couple hours to explore the park plus about 30 minutes for lunch. Freilichtmuseum Ballenberg is a wonderful outdoor museum village. I would definitely recommend Ballenberg to families with children of all ages. If you have a Swiss Pass admission is free. (We did have a Swiss Pass.)

    However one problem is that Ballenberg is on a very large piece of land, and the buildings are fairly widely spread out. Therefore you need a lot of time to move from one section to the next. We barely got a peek at the park in a couple hours. My patient husband says we mainly had a nice tour of the toilets! By the time we arrived at Ballenberg, after train rides from Wengen and a scenic boat cruise across the lake, we didn't have enough of the day left to properly experience the park. The cheese-making demonstration was already over. We didn't have enough time to get to the chocolate-making demonstration, which was at the far end of the enormous park.

    In summary, I would say that Ballenberg is worth while if you are staying close by or if you have children. I think Wengen is a bit too far from Ballenberg to make the trip worthwhile. We would have preferred to have spent the day exploring the beautiful Alps.

    www.ballenberg.ch

    If we ever stay in Interlaken or on Lake Brienz, I would return to explore Ballenberg properly.

    We did buy some great chocolate bars made in the Ballenberg park! We also saw sausages being smoked the old-fashioned way, hanging from the ceiling in a historic building.

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    <Why was the Manlichen-Kleine Scheidegg trail so crowded in early July?>

    Because it's easy and accessible. This is exactly why I don't visit the BO during the high season. Last time I walked that path there was just two of us...timing is everything.

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    WENGEN: DINING:

    Our 2 favorite dining experiences in Wengen were our dinners at the Hotel Berghaus, and also pizza at Pizzeria da Sina, behind the Shonegg Hotel. (There is more than 1 pizzeria in town, so don't go to the wrong one.)

    Pizzeria da Sina is a great Italian restaurant and pizzeria! It was marvelous to enjoy some authentic Italian-syle pizzas, and to select drinks from a wine list that has some variety. Beer was good too. (Most restaurants in Switzerland have only Swiss wines by the glass...we didn't care too much for the Swiss wines although they have great beers.)

    Pizzeria da Sina, Wengen
    Wonderful pizza and a good wine list with Italian wines!

    Hotel Berghaus: Dining
    www.berghaus-wengen.ch
    Dinners at Hotel Berghaus are excellent. We enjoyed the dinners at our hotel so much that we chose to have their half-board for 3 nights, which is a good deal. Dinners at Hotel Berghaus were among our favorite dinners in Switzerland.

    MUSIC IN WENGEN

    We enjoyed the uniquely talented Trio Lauberhorn on a Wednesday night in July at the Sunstar Hotel Wengen on the main street. We heard lively accordion music, and an unusual and entertaining way of playing music using various cowbells!
    Sunstar Hotel Wengen
    www.sunstar.ch

    LAUTERBRUNNEN:

    We explored Lauterbrunnen as a day-trip from Wengen. It's an easy 15-minute train ride from Wengen to Lauterbrunnen.

    We walked the length of the Lauterbrunnen Valley on a hot day between Trummelbach Falls and Lauterbrunnen (about an hour's walk). We were a bit disappointed as this walk wasn't that scenic, and it was too hot in the valley to enjoy walking in July (although its much cooler up higher on the mountain.) The flowers in the valley were already looking dry in early July...as spring comes and goes earlier to the valley. If you really want to explore the Lauterbrunnen valley on a hot day, I suggest you rent a bicycle.

    Trummelbach Falls, Lauterbrunnen Valley: ((Y))

    However we loved visiting the Trummelbach Falls, which are also in Lauterbrunnen. This was definitely worthwhile. There are 10 glacier waterfalls inside the mountain. There is 1 elevator and a series of stairs and paved walkways. Up to 20,000 literes of water per second thunder through the narrow gorge, according to the brochure.

    Inside the mountain are cave-like rooms, where we viewed the thrilling, thundering waterfalls, in an eerie and beautiful light. It was a memorable experience.

    I had been worried about feeling claustrophobic inside the caves, but it was an enjoyable experience and I was glad I went. As promised, my husband stayed by my side the whole time:-X (my hero). Besides, I found I was never very far from daylight. As you walk up the steps inside the mountain, you are never too far from patches of daylight. So I never actually felt closed in. Trummelbach is a beautiful site...enjoy!

    Keep your children and teens on the proper side of the railing. The waterfalls are swift and powerful. Mr. Fontana at our hotel told us that a teen who climbed over the railing and tried to venture into the waterfall was tragically swept away. The waterfalls are perfectly safe if you stay on the proper side of the railing.

    Trummelbach was one of the few sites that didn't honor our Swiss Pass. There was no free admission, not even a discount. Entrance fee was CHF 11 for adults.

    www.truemmelbach.ch

    Trummelbach Falls are a good place to admire the power and beauty of nature.

    WHERE TO EAT IN LAUTERBRUNNEN:

    We recommend the Hotel Oberland restaurant for dinner in Lauterbrunnen. Arrive before 6:30pm to get a table. We enjoyed their fondue so much that we returned a second time to share it. We like the cheese fondue which comes with both bread and fresh mushrooms. We also enjoyed other food at this restaurant and we recommend it for both the food and the friendly service.

    www.hoteloberland.ch

    FOLKLORIC EVENING: LAUTERBRUNNEN

    For a fun and musical cultural experience, enjoy a folkloric evening in Lauterbrunnen. Once a week in summer, the local clubs get together and visitors can enjoy the performance for free.

    We had missed the folkloric evenings in both Murren and Wengen since we weren't in town on the right nights. So we took the train down from Wengen to attend the folkloric evening in Lauterbrunnen.

    I loved hearing the yodeling club. It was like listening to people singing in harmony...with some yodeling woven skillfully into the songs. You can hear the love of Swiss music traditions which the performers have. I spoke to the woman in the group, who has a great talent for yodeling. She spoke a little English. She told me she was born in Wengen, and now she lives (or works?) in Luzern. She came all the way from Luzern to perform with the yodelers in Lauterbrunnen.

    We also enjoyed watching the alphorn players performing.

    There was also a group of ladies who performed some traditional Swiss dances.

    Souvenirs in Wengen:

    We bought nice souvenirs at the Swiss Made Shop in Wengen on the main street. Their prices were better than the prices we had seen at some other shops during our trip. They also have good friendly service.

    My favorite souvenir is a beautifully illustrated new picture book about Heidi. My husband found it for me in the shop, and I was pleased that he had remembered my story about how as a child I had loved that story. When my family moved I had to leave my beloved book behind as it wouldn't fit in my small suitcase. Although I could probably have ordered the book on the internet, it was special to get it in Switzerland, Heidi-country!

    I think I'll read my new book to my grandbaby, who loves books already. The book is Heidi, written by Johanna Spyri and illustrated by Maja Dusikova (copyright 2009). I also bought myself a tablecover with pretty wildflowers, which I'm looking forward to using.

    Sigh...our astonishing adventures in the Berner Oberland came to an end. It was time to pack our luggage and take the train to Zurich, where we spent our last night at the Radisson Blu hotel in the Zurich airport. We had just enough time to enjoy an afternoon walk in Zurich old town, and dinner in Zurich. Then we flew home from Zurich.

    COMING UP NEXT: LAST NIGHT IN ZURICH
    plus TIPS FOR SWITZERLAND TRAVEL

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    Melnq8: Yes, the Manlichen-Kleine Scheidegg trail would have been more enjoyable in a less crowded month! I can see why that appeals to you. Then I wouldn't have had to choose between walking behind the noisy parade of tourists, or behind the child being towed by his mother, and the whole time the child exclaimed loudly, over and over "Why do we have to JUST walk? JUST walking is boring!"

    On the other hand, I fell in love with the Swiss wildflowers in the Alps! If we come back again in late June or early July to see the wildflowers again, we will stay in Murren, because for some reason the trails above Murren weren't crowded, even in summer. It was easy to position ourselves so that we had plenty of privacy on those trails.

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    So sorry to hear that you had a crowded time on the Manlichen-Kleine Scheidegg trail. I am not all that tolerant of unreasonably grumpy children or of people who feel they need to share their conversations with the world - but we were lucky I guess when we went there.

    This was our first attempt at a walk last year in early July and whilst popular it was not too busy and the walkers were quite spread out. It was quite cold for that first part but because I became somewhat inspired by the scenery I walked all the way back to Wengen!

    My partner elected to come with me until the last train stop where we had coffee and cake (can't recall the name) - wisely for him as it turned out as my knees and legs were rather sore after such a long downhill walk!

    It was on this part of the track that we saw the most amazing spread of wildflowers - and took endless pictures. Still we went onto other wonderful walks - it is such a beautiful area and I look forward to returning soon - I hope.

    Loving your trip report.

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    Oh man...we once walked from Kleine Scheidegg to Wengen - it was a killer...downhill is often worse than going up...I was sore for days...just thinking about that trek makes me hurt.

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    Ah - so it is a difficult one! I am not sure my knee knew what had happened - and I have never ever had even a little twinge or problem with knees or legs before.

    I have learnt my lesson - but I was rather carried away with the whole experience and mountains and the like. Still - the wildflowers were wonderful.

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    Ah yes, some of those trails coming down from the top of Schynige Platte get a bit tricky! Last time we were there, we got to a point where we actually had to cross over a chained sign that said something like "not a trail", but there was no other way to go -- well, except back up and that wasn't going to happen ;).

    Seems interesting that you chose to visit Lauterbrunnen from Wengen rather than from Murren.

    Nice report, Melissa5. ((y))

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    Melissa, we are booked into the Hotel Eiger in Muerren for two nights in August. Do you thik we should try to change to the Bellevue? Your review sounds wonderful. Thanks for any comments.

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    Gariem: We were delighted with our stay at Hotel Bellevue in Murren, and next time we are in the Berner Oberland we definitely plan to ask for the same room, and spend at least 4 nights in Murren. As to your question...should you change from the Hotel Eiger to the Hotel Bellevue? Well, tell us more about why you chose the Hotel Eiger. What is important to you? The Hotel Eiger is near the train station. (The Eiger Guesthouse is also near the train station.) Now that I have been to Murren, we wouldn't want to stay near the train station, because most of the things that we wanted to be close to weren't near the train station. We liked the location of the Hotel Bellevue because its close to the Allmendhubel cable car, which takes you up to access great scenic hikes amongst the wildflowers and the Alps. We also liked being so close to the Coop grocery store and to other restaurants. To me, both the Eiger Guesthouse and the Hotel Eiger felt like they are on the far side of town. (However keep in mind that Murren isn't that big, so no matter where you stay in Murren, you can still walk to everything else in Murren.)

    I think the Hotel Eiger has a pool and maybe a jacuzzi or sauna? If that is important to you, that is something to consider. We don't need a pool...but even if we had wanted a pool, our hotel gave us free passes to use the nearby sports center which does have a pool.

    I selected the Hotel Bellevue because I prefer a cozy b&b or smaller family-run guesthouse. I prefer not to stay in places that are big enough to accommodate tour groups. I prefer someplace that is smaller and cozier. But that's a personal preference. I also liked the value of the Hotel Bellevue...we had what was probably their best room, with a great view of the Alps, for 210 CHF including all taxes and fees and breakfast. That was the best value we found in Switzerland. I think some of their standard rooms cost even less. We had a "superior" room with a small balcony for the best mountain view. The funny thing is that this was the cheapest hotel on our trip, and I thought of it as the money-saving hotel. However I didn't expect that it would become our FAVORITE hotel on our trip! I also didn't expect to see the Alps from our bed, and if you are tall enough you can see the Alps while sitting up in the old-fashioned country bathtub!

    Consider all of your factors. Choose what feels best for you.

    Do you have any specific questions about the Hotel Bellevue which I could answer for you?

    Have a great trip! I do think you have chosen a nice hotel, although I've never stayed there, the reviews on tripadvisor look good. But as I mentioned we were so happy with the Hotel Bellevue, we want the same room next trip.

    Gotta run...I'll be back later!

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    love_travel_Aus: I'm not even sure I would blame the child for being grumpy on the hike. I think I'd blame his mother for her lack of imagination. She was indeed "just" walking with him. When we took our young children on nature walks, we would stop and show them little treasures...such as a butterfly, or a lady bug, or an interesting shaped rock. Spotting treasures kept them occupied and attentive on the walk. We would also use imaginative games...didn't a spaceship land here? After all, who likes "just" walking? My husband the biologist would always spot things no one else saw on the walks...so the kids learned to do the same...he showed them things like owl pellets, caterpillars, etc. In fact, my husband is still a little kid in a mud puddle at heart, and I love him for it. No one else noticed there were newts mating in water the size of a puddle on one of our hikes in the Berner Oberland. Everyone else saw only a mud puddle and passed right by it.

    love_travel_Aus, I totally understand what you mean...when you say you became somewhat inspired by the scenery, so that you walked all the way back to Wengen! I can relate to your sore knees as you walked all the way down...and to your discovery of the amazing spread of wildflowers...which you wouldn't have discovered if you had taken the easy way out. Inspiring mountain scenery just draws you onward...and you test your own limits and go beyond them. You begin to wonder if this is such a good idea as your knees hurt and your feet are slipping...and you have to go to the bathroom (my story now)...and you are hungry...and then OH JOY! You come upon an incredible sight like the wildflowers blooming in all their glory under the snow-capped Alps...and the light keeps changing...its magical. >:D<

    melnq8: I wonder why going down seems harder than one anticipates in the mountains? Everything is up and down...not too much level ground...so having the right shoes is even more important. I actually had to buy a new pair of hiking shoes in Switzerland. The ones I had brought made my feet hurt (capsulitis flaring up) and didn't have enough tread for the hikes we couldn't resist. The new pair I bought in Switzerland was great. But they don't sell them in the USA...I want to order another pair if I can find them online. Mammut hiking shoes made with Gore-tex.

    swisshiker: Ahhh no...you actually came to a sign that said "not a trail"?! Now, that's an adventure. You said it seems interesting that we chose to visit Lauterbrunnen from Wengen rather than Murren. That's because the first place we stayed in the Berner Oberland was Murren. We had good weather, and who knew how long that would last. We decided to go walking in the Alps for as many days as we had good weather. And that ended up being for most of the days we were in Murren (5 nights in Murren). Plus we just fell in love with the trails above Murren with the glory of wildflowers and the views of the alps. Therefore when we left Murren and stayed in Wengen next (6 nights in Wengen), we were ready for a change and decided to go down and see Lauterbrunnen as well as explore some more mountain hikes.

    What hiking shoes do you wear in the mountains? And where did you buy them? What kind of materials are your shoes made of? Are they high or low at the ankles? I like the low shoes because I have tender feet. Do you have any foot problems? I have capsulitis (tender swelling on bottom of foot) plus a tendency to get blisters between my problem toes. This makes it hard to wear shoes and I had gotten to the point where I couldn't walk in any shoes longer than an hour without getting sore feet. THEN I found the perfect pair of hiking shoes in Luzern...for me...they are Mammut brand, and made of Gore-tex. They are water resistant, and since the material is flexible, it helps my tender feet. It also has the right support on the bottom of the shoe so that my weight is better balanced, so there isn't so much pressure on my capsulitis. They also have plenty of tread on the bottom. MAGIC shoes! I accomplished a 5-hour hike in these shoes in Switzerland! That's great for me, as I've had a lot of foot problems over the past 2 years.

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    Melissa, thanks for your response. I think we will put in a request to the Hotel Bellevue, but we may be too late. We would also rather be further away from the train station. Thanks again so much!

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    ZURICH

    RADISSON BLU HOTEL, ZURICH AIRPORT
    www.radissonblu.com/hotel-zurichairport

    We enjoyed our last night in Switzerland at the modern Radisson Blu hotel right in the Zurich Airport. This is a very comfortable hotel in the same complex with the airport, train station, and shops. It is so convenient!

    We wheeled our luggage between the train, the hotel, and the airport. You never need to go outside because inside there are free luggage carts and escalators plus elevators both of which accommodate you and your luggage cart. We were impressed with such Swiss efficiency!

    Zurich is efficient and modern. It is a busy bustling city, and its a tremendous contrast to the Berner Oberland and little Murren and Wengen. We saw the unattractive side of Zurich from the train. We strolled through the charming old town area near the river. We stayed alert and wary in the train station area, where there is a collection of drug addicts and various suspicious looking characters like you see in any big city.

    For us, 1 night was plenty in Zurich. We didn't feel drawn to stay any longer. (Although my husband might like to see the Zurich zoo on a future trip. He is a biologist.)

    The Radisson Blu is a great choice for a first or last night at the Zurich airport. However I personally wouldn't recommend this hotel for families with children or teens, because of the atmosphere in the lobby created by the wine bar. There are attractive young women harnessed on display, dressed to look sexy, and they get hoisted up to select bottles of wine. The problem isn't the women. The problem is the men who sit in the wine bar lounge staring at the women. Its a little bit seedy. I wouldn't want my children or teens to be exposed to this very adult scene. (I think there is a similar problem in many big hotels with bars...such as in Las Vegas...it just isn't a wholesome atmosphere for children or teens. But in this case, you cannot get to your room without passing the women on display, and when you pause to push the elevator button you are close to the wine bar.)

    Be cautious if you find yourself in the Radisson Blu lobby. While you are staring up at the women in amazement, the first time you see them, a thief may be watching you! While my husband and I paused to observe the wine bar, I noticed a man had stopped to observe us. Then I got in the elevator ahead of my husband, whose attention was still captured by the women, but the strange man followed me and peered into my purse, observing my cash while I was pulling out my room card. I felt a warning flash that this was suspicious behavior. By this time my husband had entered the elevator.

    I said “wait. I forgot something” and exited the elevator. The man followed us and said he didn't have a card for the elevator and he wanted to go up with us. My husband told him he couldn't ride the elevator without a card. He said he left it in his room. My husband pointed towards the front desk and told him the front desk would help him and give him another room card.

    The man didn't approach the front desk. Instead he followed another guest into another elevator. Keep in mind even if he had a room he wouldn't get to his floor without his room card as the elevator knows which set of floors your room is on. Furthermore, he wouldn't get into his room without his room card!!! We think he was up to some mischief. Perhaps he would tell the housekeeping staff that he had left his card in a room and persuade them to let him into someone else's room. Who knows what he was up to.

    Belatedly we thought about reporting him to the front desk but we weren't sure what floor he was on. Our instinct was that he was up to no good, but we didn't know exactly what he had in mind. I have learned the hard way in life to always trust that quick instinct when something “feels” suspicious.

    Our room at the Zurich Radisson Blu had a real King bed, which is luxurious for Switzerland. It had a nice shower which oddly flooded the bathroom floor, but there were 2 drains in the floor and we asked for extra towels so it was easy to dry up the water. They were big thirsty towels. It was a small inconvenience. We recommend the hotel for convenience, and they have a helpful professional staff.

    COMING UP NEXT: DINNER IN ZURICH & OLD TOWN WALK
    PLUS Tips on Traveling in Switzerland

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    Melissa -

    Glad to hear the Radisson worked out okay despite the strange man. I found the Wine Angels a bit bizarre, but certainly not seedy. They were fully clad in white body suits. Has that changed?

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    Melissa - those shoes sound great - and I looked them up - not quite as terrifyingly expensive as I imagined.

    And - oh dear - I sound like a really grumpy old lady saying I have a low tolerance for whining and loud conversations.

    You made me think back to when our children were younger and we went out bush walking (quite a long way away in our 4 wheel drive) with them.
    I am pleased to reflect that we did actually make it an engaging exercise what with building 'waterfalls' (very little ones that our youngest would always want to go back and look for the following trip), counting kangaroos and seeing how far the CB radios worked for! Not a lot of small creature spotting - I preferred to not see if the snakes could see us! Only one occasion I think they were ready to escape was when we were in the gorges near Kalbarri in West Australia and it was 47C - but they hung in there for the short walk need to see the most spectacular scenery.

    Sorry -got off the topic there - but again thanks for a fantastic report and lots of really good information.
    I am still pondering as to how we might manage 3 or 4 days in this region in mid September. Here's hoping we can.

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    I also found the Radisson Blu very convenient for an early morning flight, and yes the wine tower is a bit bizarre. Our room was nice, but there was a large window in the bathroom, at the bathtub that opened into the room side. That was also also bizarre. What was even more bizarre, was the curtain on it was on the bedroom side. Make sure it's closed BEFORE you decide to take a bath. Very odd indeed. The breakfast was something like 35F so we opted for coffee and a donut in the food court.
    I would stay there again if I had an early flight, but it certainly isn't the Kempinski at Munich airport.

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    Melnq8: Well it's difficult to discuss the wine angels without being inappropriate on the forums. Let's just say yes they were dressed and harnessed and clearly appealing especially to the men sitting in the bar lounge area who were staring up at them. Clearly they are put on display. It is my opinion that when you put women on display and then add men and alcohol, that isn't the best place for children and teens. The wine bar is right by the elevators so its in a public place that you can't avoid.

    love_travel_Aus: I do hope you get your 3 or 4 days in the Berner Oberland in September. It sounds like you made it interesting for your kids, when you all went bush walking. You said you looked up my hiking shoes that I got in Switzerland. I'm trying to find the same pair on the internet as I'd like to have 2 pairs. They don't sell them in the USA I don't think. They are Mammuts made with Goretex, which is water resistant and breathable. I thought I could look up the numbers and get a 2nd pair.

    TravMimi: Yes some people complained online about the window between the bathroom and the bedroom at the Radisson Blu Zurich airport. We didn't have a bathtub, only a shower. The front desk did warn us about this and asked us if we would like them to fix up a curtain for us. We didn't think we needed one. As I traveled with my husband the window didn't bother me, although I had to use a mini flashlight at night because if I turned on the light in the bathroom at night it would have woken up my husband because of the window. But I always travel with a mini flashlight. So for us this wasn't a problem. I prefer not to turn on any bright lights if I get up at night, because if I flash my eyes with bright lights, it can keep me awake. Its easier to get back to sleep if I just turn on a mini-flashlight.

    I'm eager to finish up this trip report with our dinner in Zurich, and our impressions during a stroll in Old Town Zurich. But I actually have to get ready to go to a conference this coming weekend so I'll be back to fill in the trip report as soon as I have time.

    COMING UP NEXT; DINNER IN ZURICH AND OLD TOWN STROLL Plus Travel Tips for Switzerland

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    Melissa5,

    Love, love, love reading your trip report! From someone who also enjoys writing, your prose is poetic and lovely, and you paint the most beautiful pictures with words. I am now soooo excited for our trip in just three weeks!

    I have much more to read, but since we only have around 4 days in the BO region, I have this question. You have sold me on the Schilthorn :-). Since we're staying in Wengen, is it reasonable for us to plan a day that looks like this: train early to Lauterbrunnen, do the walk to Trummelbach Falls, then gondola to Murren. Spend time in Murren, probably lunch there, then back on the gondola and up to the Schilthorn. We would definitely linger at Piz Gloria but maybe just for a snack and/or drink...have not heard great things about the food. At the end of our day, gondola back to Lauterbrunnen and train back to Wengen. Even writing it I know it's ambitious, but I don't think we've included any ambitious hikes and I would really, really like to be able to include Trummelbach...Murren...and the Schilthorn in this day. Even more ambitious would be to continue on from Trummelbach Falls to Stechelberg, then post bus back to Lauterbrunnen before continuing up to Murren, but I'm guessing that would be just too much. What do you think?

    Our other two days look (loosely) like this: one day to do the Schynige Platte trip, and another to somehow fit in Jungfraujoch/Mannlichen-Kleine Scheidegg walk. If I understand correctly, that would involve going early from Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch...then if we have enough steam left, when we arrive back in Kleine Scheidigg we could take the gondola up to Mannlichen and do the walk back down before heading home to Wengen. Does this sound right?

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    Hello caseyhen :)

    Your plans are ambitious but certainly doable. Be sure to have a Plan B, however, in case of weather problems. Afternoon clouds, which cover the peaks, are not at all unusual.

    "...when we arrive back in Kleine Scheidigg we could take the gondola up to Mannlichen and do the walk back down before heading home to Wengen. Does this sound right?"

    There is no gondola at Kleine Scheidegg, only trains, going either to Grindelwald or to Wengen (well, also the Jungfraujoch excursion train).

    The way to Mannlichen from KS is (a) walk, which many folks do this way. You'd have your back to the mountains for a big part of it, but you can always stop and look around. Then from Mannlichen you'd take the tram down to Wengen.

    Or (b) from KS take the train back down to Wengen, then take the tram up to Mannlichen, then walk Mannlichen-->KS, then train back to Wengen from there.

    It all depends on how long you spend up at the Jungfraujoch. I can spend hours up there, especially if the day is clear and bright.

    Instead of the KS-->Mannlichen hike, you may want to consider hiking down from KS-->Wengen. Much less crowded and just as spectacular.

    Happy travels!

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    caseyhen: I'm actually headed out of town for a conference in LA. So I'll be back on the forums next week. My head is spinning with all of your wonderful plans...good for you! swisshiker is a great advisor and has more experience than I do in Switzerland. I suggest that you prioritize your itinerary...do the most important things first...since you might run out of time...or the weather could change. I suggest you try to figure out when is the best and clearest weather...and head up for those gorgeous views of the Alps when the weather is clearest and best... In June/July we always consulted the locals for the weather report, but it was invariably wrong though! (-; Nobody can really predict those mysterious Alps. We found that if we ended up at the right place at the right time...for example gorgeous weather up at the Schilthorn, and food visibility, sunny and gorgeous wildflowers on the north face trail...we wanted to stay there as long as we wished, and wouldn't have wanted to hurry away.

    Have a great time!

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    Hi all,

    I've been caught up for a few days in life here at home, but I jus a love arriving back here to such helpful (and friendly) responses. Swisshiker, that's exactly what I was trying to figure out about the Jungraujoch day, how to get up to Mannlichen afterward, so your response was just perfect. Good to know that the KS to Wengen walk is just as spectacular as the more popular Mannlichen to KS walk everyone raves about. Would you say it's any more strenuous?

    Melissa5, great advice. I know that this is a ridiculously tough question, but if you had one clear day, would you head straight for the Schilthorn (doing the falls and Murren on the way, or maybe dozing the Schilthorn first and doing the rest on the way back in case it clouded over)? Or would you be more inclined to prioritize something else - I already know it wouldn't be the Jungfraujoch over the Schilthorn for you!, but what about Schynige Platte?

    I have to force myself to move on to doing a bit more research on the Cote d'Azur and Provence portions of our trip (less than 2 weeks away now, yikes! And so much to do before we leave...). But not having even set foot in Switzerland yet, I find myself already obsessed! Guess I've joined the club, thanks to all of your enthusiasm!

    Caseyhen

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    Caseyhen: To answer the question you posed above...since you are staying in Wengen, if you had 1 clear day...I would suggest that you make either the Schilthorn or the Schynige Platte your #1 priority. For me, my #1 favorite was the North face trail above Murren, accessed by taking the Allmendhubel cable car up from Murren and then walking to the start of the North face trail (best described in the Rick Steves guidebook as far as finding the start of the trail from the Allmendhubel cable car staion....then hike the North face trail, which took us twice as long as posted on the sign...because we kept stopping to look at and photograph flowers & Alps!) However, I love the North face trail because of the flowers at the end of June, and also the gorgeous views of the Alps...so I don't know how many flowers are blooming for the remainder of the summer. Also, since you are staying in Wengen, the North face trail isn't quite as convenient as it was for us, staying in Murren. So I would take that into consideration when choosing your priorities. Also, since you have limited time...I forget how much time you have?....I wouldn't go from Wengen over to Murren just to see Murren...not unless you have time to continue on from Murren and do the North face trail which is above Murren. Hope this helps. Enjoy the fantastic Berner Oberland! Oh yes...I would put the Trummelbache falls as a lower priority if you run out of time...because even though yes they are unique and beautiful...you can see various different types of waterfalls in many places on vacation...but for me it seemed like a more unique and rare experience to get to be up on top of the Alps, as high up as Schilthorn or Schynigge Platte...that seemed a more unique experience to me... Also, I thought the Lauterbrunnen valley was much more impressive while up high and looking down upon the valley...actually being IN the valley wasn't as amazing to me... In Wengen there are a coupla spots where you can get an amazing view of the Lauterbrunnen valley...don't miss that view...In Murren of course there are also amazing views of the Lauterbrunnen valley... But if you do the Schynigge Platte on a clear day, you will have plenty of great views too...ok now I'm starting to repeat myself!

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    Melissa5, I realize that I have forgotten to thank you for your wonderful, entertaining, moving, and thorough trip report, not to mention all of the time you've invested in answering my myriad questions. Having "traveled" with you on more than one occasion now, you never disappoint! Things have gotten crazy here, as they often do in the days leading up to departure. We have someone seriously I'll in the family and have scrambled get a cell phone from Call in Europe (thanks to Fodorites' recommendations), investigated baggage check-through to Wengen but have waited too long to avoid huge shipping fees, have worried over choice of outerwear and footwear, and have spent countless hours - as I know you did - to learn all I could about "our" region of Switzerland. Too bad I've given the Cote d'Azur and Provence such short shrift! However, we'll have the iPad, documents sent to us by "friends" from Fodors who are so generous with their travel wisdom, a cell phone, and our own travel savvy, such as it is. We'll be fine!

    I always try to keep good notes and insist that I will most definitely post a trip report...then we arrive home, the school year begins, and we're off and running. My vow is to follow through on this this time. I seem to be a little more reliable with downloading and editing our typically 1,000 photos. Maybe I'd be better off figuring out a way to post the captioned photos online and share our travels in that way...something new to research!

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    caseyhen: I hope your ill family member is well and in good spirits soon...it sounds like you and your family will benefit from your trip to beautiful Switzerland! When I look back on the past 10 years, I have many fond memories that include family trips. Why don't you try posting a short trip report? Just post a couple paragraphs about your most special, favorite moment in Switzerland. I'd love to hear about it! I have discovered that the sooner you post after your return home...the more likely you are to post anything at all...

    Don't feel like you have to make a complete exhaustive trip report. That's not everyone's cup of tea, I know. I happen to love writing after my trips, but not everyone feels the same. Still, we'd love to hear about what you loved most!

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    What an amazingly inspiring and informative report - thank you so very much!

    I came upon it while trying to decide whether the "Mountain View" trail would be worth my time -- I think you answered that question! :-) I'm looking forward to it.

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    kja: Enjoy the Northface trail! I'll look for your trip report when you return. I'm always trying to figure out when we can get back to Switzerland! The Northface trail has forever changed the way that I feel about flowers. I cannot see a flower without remembering the joy of flowers & the Alps of Switzerland!

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    indy_dad: In response to your question...I can't remember what you are referring to? Did I offer Travel Tips for Switzerland? Oh dear... What would you like to know? :-D Oh...I see what you mean...I ended my trip report by promising Travel Tips for Switzerland! Now I've forgotten what I meant to write...

    But as I fondly remember our trip, one thing that stands out is that staying in the big cities is way more expensive...such as Luzerne and Zurich for example...very expensive! For a charming stay that is way easier on your budget, stay in the smaller towns and villages! We also didn't rent a car at all...Switzerland has excellent transportation of all kinds!

    I look forward to our next trip to Switzerland sometime in the next few years! I think Switzerland and New Zealand are my 2 favorite countries on the earth...so far!

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