Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

A Winter Wander – Engadine and Berner Oberland

Notices

A Winter Wander – Engadine and Berner Oberland

Old Feb 4th, 2014, 10:47 PM
  #61  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,165
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Shhhh...let's not tell anyone annhig.

My impression is that the Engadine is quite popular with European tourists and I'm sure things livened up once all the ski-cross country-snowshoe-sled-toboggan runs opened.
Melnq8 is online now  
Old Feb 4th, 2014, 11:21 PM
  #62  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 417
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Just caught up with the last couple of entries as we were without power for nearly 20 hours yesterday - so missed my 'fix'.
Wild winds this time not heat - !
These are wonderful pics and your report is so full of great information - all being carefully kept, re read and digested for future adventures.
The sunshine is amazing and it all looks so refreshing and peaceful - and cool.
Thank you...
love_travel_Aus is offline  
Old Feb 5th, 2014, 09:45 AM
  #63  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,717
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanks for posting additional pics - truly beautiful. Ah yes, they make me want to jump in the car and head to Scuol

Yes, the Lower Engadine is quite popular with Germans, most visitors are Swiss, though.

Been to Zuort a couple of times - glad you enjoyed it. We met a guy with two donkeys on the way up there from Vna. Talked with the guy and fed the monkeys - fun!

In summer you can hike Zuort - Sent via the suspension bridges (-Val Sinestra). Quite scary for people with fear of heights, but also fun.

I.
Ingo is offline  
Old Feb 5th, 2014, 04:28 PM
  #64  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,165
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
December 16: Feeling claustrophobic

We’d thoroughly enjoyed our time in Scuol and were hesitant to leave, but leave we did, knowing we had a long day ahead. Verena was kind enough to haul us to the train station, where we boarded the 8:40 am train and began the trek to Lauterbrunnen via Landquart, Zurich, Bern and Interlaken Ost, four train changes, six hours. We went through the 19 km Vereina Tunnel, the longest tunnel on the Rhaetian Railway and the world’s longest narrow gauge railway tunnel. It was long alright, it felt as if we’d never come out of the dark.

The architecture slowly changed, the tall stone houses replaced with sprawling wood chalets. The green grass and meadow made it feel more like spring than mid-December.

We had 35 minutes between trains in Bern, so Bill stayed with the luggage while I sought out sustenance, ham baguettes from a kiosk (16 CHF) and lattes from Starbucks (12.60 CHF, you’d think I’d learn). There’d been plenty of low dreary fog as we came into Bern, but no snow whatsoever.

We arrived in Lauterbrunnen at 2:30 pm, located and got settled into our home for the next four nights, Chalet Horner. Like most accommodation in Lauterbrunnen, it’s conveniently located to the train station, the Coop, restaurants and a self-service laundry.

http://www.homeaway.co.uk/Switzerlan...unnen/p979.htm

This place gets good reviews, but frankly, we weren’t impressed. We were in the Jungfrau ‘apartment’ which is basically a bedroom on the upper level of the owner’s chalet. The unit consists of a bed for two, a closet, a table with two chairs, a small bathroom (sink is in the bedroom), a balcony, and the tiniest ‘kitchen’ I’ve ever seen; one look and I immediately gave up any hope of cooking breakfast.

There wasn’t an inch to spare, no room to maneuver, let alone prepare a meal. We had to orchestrate our movements so as not to run into each other; getting into our luggage was a considerable challenge. I was immediately claustrophobic. Lest I’ve not been clear, this unit is insanely compact. It’d probably work well enough as a single, but was a real squish for two.

On the upside, the room was clean and well equipped, the bed comfortable, the views fabulous, and as a bonus, there were a few English TV channels. It had everything we needed...but space.

We paid a total of 326.40 CHF for four nights, of which 26.40 was visitor’s tax and five was for internet, so a total of 81.50 CHF per night. We’d definitely been spoiled by Samedan and Scuol; Scuol in particular, as it was considerably better value, but my guess is that good value in the Berner Oberland is harder to come by.

We caught up on laundry at the nearby self-service laundry – 5 CHF to wash, 5 CHF to dry, machines blissfully uncomplicated, and then made a run to the Coop for simple breakfast provisions - rolls, cheese, ham and milk.

Dinner was at the Hotel Oberland directly across from our accommodation, an establishment we’ve frequented on past visits; had it not been for their five night minimum, we’d have booked one of their apartments. I’m a fan of raclette, and theirs is delicious. Bill opted for a bacon & onion pizza, but he couldn’t seem to keep his fork out of my cheese. He wanted to return for his own, so we booked in for the following night...and the night after that... and the night after that. Dinner solved (50 CHF with drinks, excellent food and service).

Then it was back to our tiny room to digest all that cheese.

To be continued...
Melnq8 is online now  
Old Feb 6th, 2014, 12:33 PM
  #65  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,717
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Ouch. That apartment for sure was a shock after the one in Scuol in particular! Too bad you couldn't stay at Hotel Oberland. Have stayed there some years ago and loved it. Food was always good there.
Ingo is offline  
Old Feb 6th, 2014, 01:50 PM
  #66  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,165
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
That's what I get for not doing more research!
Melnq8 is online now  
Old Feb 7th, 2014, 10:22 PM
  #67  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,165
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
December 17 – Tight pants and too many people

We had a good sleep, although we could hear our English neighbor rummaging about. The jet lag was a distant memory; we were sleeping later and moving slower. Lauterbrunnen felt downright balmy after the Engadine and we were already missing the colder weather.

It wasn’t long before we were missing the quiet too, as there were hordes of people at the Lauterbrunnen station, awaiting their trains to the Jungfrau.

We took the train to Wengen, discussed walk options with a helpful employee at the tourist office and then embarked upon the track to Staubbachbankli. This 2.75 mile return walk begins near the Hotel Baren and leads to a gorgeous viewpoint overlooking the Lauterbrunnen Valley. The village of Murren can be seen perched up on a ledge on the opposite side.

The grandstand installation for the 2014 Lauberhorn Races was underway up here; we explored a bit, and then backtracked to the village, eventually edging our way up the hill to Ristorante Da Sina for lunch. We were curious if they still offered the fabulous garlic and white wine soup we remembered from previous trips – they do! Man, that stuff is good, seriously rich and decadent (37 CHF, soup, beer and wine). Speaking of wine, I hadn’t had much luck finding a Swiss wine that I liked (hence all that gluhwein) although I’ll admit that I’m probably spoiled by the fantastic drops available in Australia. We did get a kick out of the glass cork that sealed a bottle of wine we purchased at a food shop...we didn’t care for the wine, but the cork was interesting.

We next walked to Hunnenfluh, me wishing I’d left my thermals behind. We never tire of this walk, which offers lovely Jungfrau and Lauterbrunnen Valley views on the way up, plus some quite dramatic sweeping views to Zweilutschinen and Interlaken from the overlook.

After the viewpoint, we continued walking up to the Leiterhorn. My knees rebelled, so I admired the views from a bench and nibbled my 732th chocolate bar while Bill continued the climb, then we returned to Wengen (~three miles, two hours).

“Car-free” Wengen has had service vehicles, electric vehicles and farm vehicles for as long as we’ve been visiting, but we were genuinely surprised at the number of vehicles we encountered this time.

We took the train back to Lauterbrunnen and dodged the crowds at the station once again.

Dinner was at the Hotel Oberland, this time raclette for both (51 CHF with one beer and gluhwein, pants getting tighter, hmmmmm, I can’t imagine why).

To be continued...
Melnq8 is online now  
Old Feb 7th, 2014, 10:51 PM
  #68  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,165
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
December 18 – Grazing through Murren

It was time to visit Murren, the highest continually inhabited village in the canton of Bern and a personal favorite. It clings to a 1,650 meter terrace above the Lauterbrunnen Valley, which one truly appreciates after viewing it from the Staubbachbankli in Wengen.

We walked to the cable car station and rode up to Grutschalp, where we disembarked and followed the trail that leads alongside the railway. During our previous visits the restaurant at Winteregg had been closed, but not today, so we had the perfect excuse to pop in for a cup of hot chocolate about halfway through the walk. The overcast skies began to clear as we inched towards Murren, raising my hopes for nice photographs. The views of the Jungfrau, Monch and Eiger as spectacular as ever, the walk dead easy (~3 miles, 1:20).

Once in Murren we took the Allmendhubel funicular (4 CHF each with Swiss Pass discount, one way) to the top; where we settled in to watch the world go by from the sun terrace of the Panorama Allmendhubel Restaurant; panorama indeed, the views up here are staggering. Soup again, this time a beautiful curry and glass noodle concoction for Bill and potato for me (36 CHF with drinks, excellent).

We returned to Murren via the Panoramaweg, sections of it shared with skiers and sleds, me stopping every two minutes to take photographs. Restaurant Sonnenberg, usually closed during our visits, was wide open and hopping. The day had turned beautiful, the skies blue, the snow sparkling white, the surrounding Alps magnificent; a feast for the eyes (~2 miles).

Remembering some nice apfelstrudel mit vanillesauce from past visits, we made a beeline to the Hotel Alpenruh (24 CHF with drinks, at least we shared!). It was the witching hour, just past 2 pm, the sun rapidly disappearing. We took in the views, watched the paragliders and bemoaned the sinking sun before returning to Lauterbrunnen via the train and Grutschalp cable car.

Yep, dinner was at the Hotel Oberland again, raclette for Bill, Rosti with bacon and onions for me (55 CHF with drinks, delicioso). For some strange reason, all the employees seemed to know us.

To be continued...
Melnq8 is online now  
Old Feb 7th, 2014, 11:18 PM
  #69  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,985
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
"I hadn’t had much luck finding a Swiss wine that I liked" -- Now that's sad! I was very favorably impressed with many of the Swiss wines I tasted. Not that I don't appreciate Australian wines -- many are incredible! But IME, pairing a local wine with a local food can sometimes be unbeatable, and I found that to be the case many times in my journey through Switzerland. I guess I was lucky.

Thanks for letting us sit in your pocket, Melnq8.
kja is offline  
Old Feb 7th, 2014, 11:47 PM
  #70  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,165
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I was surprised too kja, can you recommend any good ones for next time?
Melnq8 is online now  
Old Feb 7th, 2014, 11:55 PM
  #71  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,985
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Sorry - I always talked about it with, and then left it to, my servers. I figured that they knew their foods and they knew their wines and they would know how to pair them. And OMG, some of those combinations were delightful!

Here's to continued sampling!
kja is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2014, 01:11 AM
  #72  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,717
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Mürren is one of my favourites, too. Snapping photos only every two minutes? LOL

As for wine, there are fantastic red ones (Pinot Noir) from the Rhine valley in Graubünden. Tscharner, I think, makes some of the best (Schloss Reichenau?). I remember having a wine tasting at Hotel Edelweiss in Sils some years ago, and they had all the good ones. Also, a (white) Dezaley from Lac Leman is always a good choice. I also liked the white wines from Aigle. Lutry is the only (I think) village that has red ones in the Lavaux region - also very good. And don't forget the Ticino - excellent Merlot e.g. You'll find them to be more expensive than comparable Australian wines, though.
Ingo is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2014, 01:21 AM
  #73  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 9,741
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Ingo: You are a very patient man and always a wealth of information. I hope to meet you someday in your beloved Engadin.
kleeblatt is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2014, 01:47 AM
  #74  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,717
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
schuler: Good to hear from you. It's been a while, eh? Let's raise a glass of good Swiss wine to a future meeting in the Engadine! ;-)
Ingo is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2014, 02:41 AM
  #75  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,165
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
As always, I appreciate your tips Ingo. I'll make wine notes for next time.

<You'll find them to be more expensive than comparable Australian wines, though.>

You might be surprised...wine is quite expensive here (as is just about everything).
Melnq8 is online now  
Old Feb 8th, 2014, 06:41 AM
  #76  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 9,741
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Ingo: You got it.

I'm not on here too much anymore for the simple reason that it has become boring. Too much info, not enough wit.
kleeblatt is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2014, 06:57 AM
  #77  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,717
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Totally agree, schuler.

Melniq8: Really? Ugh. But I'm used to more expensive wine anyway. Saxon wines (my home region) are rare, grow on steep slopes with terraces and thus are also on the pricey side.
Ingo is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2014, 09:41 AM
  #78  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 53,577
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Ingo - from a british perspective, we would agree that australian and NZ wines [lots of Pinot noir there] are extremely expensive and sadly generally poor value at current exchange rates.

They actually make burgundy look well priced!
annhig is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2014, 03:56 PM
  #79  
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 148
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Am really enjoying your report. I was going to send you a private message, as I had a couple of questions I'm sure no one else is interested in, but apparently I can't do that so here goes: 1) Size of suitcase, 2) would Ugg-type boots work for hiking, plus yak tracks and 3) what type of coat/jacket did you wear for hiking, i e, Northface or comparable, fleece?

I'm hoping to go in Dec (your report really inspired me). I'll be alone, so I worry about luggage size and transporting it on trains. I don't like to rely on other people for assistance.
Thanks.
baglady is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2014, 05:30 PM
  #80  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,165
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Hi baglady -

1) We each checked on a 26" Samsonite suitcase and carried on our day packs, which we also used for hiking.

2) Funny you ask about Uggs, because we saw some Asian tourists wearing bright pink Uggs in Murren - they could barely stay upright just walking through town (roads are often snow packed and icy).

You really need a proper shoe/boot with ankle and arch support and heavy sole with traction. There are lots of Yak Trax-type products on the market, some are quite stout. We have a more substantial pair and could have used them on a couple of tracks, but the Yak Trax did pretty well overall.

I doubled up on my regular mid-weight socks and never got cold feet, Bill was fine in his usual Thorlos. If you're prone to cold toes, you might look into a pair of boots lined with sheepskin or similar. Wet feet weren't a problem with our Keens, they're not waterproof, but you wouldn't know it.

3) We each took a fleece jacket and a waterproof/windproof layer that fits over the fleece - this is our usual attire for hiking in New Zealand. We also each took a more substantial coat - Bill's a bulky down, mine a lighter version, both LL Bean.

Bill used his fleece/windproof for most walks, but I got cold, so I started using my heavier coat. Once or twice I even wore the fleece under the jacket - it got pretty cold in the Engadine. Think layers.

We wore lightweight hiking pants with silk long underwear bottoms underneath - this worked great - warmth without bulk or binding. In fact, we wore the silk out, had to order new ones when we got home. If you're unaccustomed to the cold, you might want something more substantial, like Duofold, but I just can't deal with lower body bulk.

We also took fleece hats and gloves/mittens and I had a pashmina scarf I used a few times.

The only thing we didn't have that we wished we did was a neck gaiter - we have some, but I think they're in storage somewhere.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-S...ods/2615136011

We also took hiking sticks. Bill didn't use his, but I did.

LL Bean is your friend!

About the luggage - it was a hassle, no doubt, but most train stations in Switzerland have ramps and/or elevators, so as long as your luggage has wheels you're good to go. Some stations (mostly in Germany as I recall) have conveyor ramps that you can put your suitcase on and drag alongside you as you walk up the stairs. Not all of them were in working order though.

We usually stored our luggage at the ends of trains - there's often open space that's out of the way of traffic, yet near the doors. There were also open triangular storage areas between seatbacks on some trains and overhead shelving (if you can lift okay, I can't).

We didn't have any train space issues until we got to Germany. That's another story altogether.

Glad to hear I helped inspire you - happy planning!
Melnq8 is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO