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Ingo's trip report Black Forest, Strasbourg and Bernese Oberland

Ingo's trip report Black Forest, Strasbourg and Bernese Oberland

Old Sep 27th, 2003, 05:45 AM
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Ingo's trip report Black Forest, Strasbourg and Bernese Oberland

Hello folks, those of the SGFTWLS in particular! I am back from 10 days of vacation (accompanied by a friend), spent in the Black Forest/Germany, including a day trip to Strasbourg/France and a week in Adelboden/Switzerland. Well, after making an elaborate excuse in June (LOL, inside joke for Grasshopper and s) I was happy to see the Swiss mountains a 2nd time at least this year.

Tue, Sept 16

The drive from home (Dresden) to Gengenbach (Black Forest) was awful. Lots of trucks on the motorways, traffic jams etc. We arrived at 11 am. Most Hotels were booked and the available choices not too appealing. Decided for private accommodation. One bathroom, kitchen, balcony for 2 double rooms and a single room. The rate was 33 Euro per room and night plus tax (1 Euro per person). The shocker was that the use of shower was another 1,50 Euro. Yikes. Breakfast was basic, but enough. However, the room was relatively quiet and centrally located, so we didn't bother for only two nights.

Gengenbach is a picturesque small town, located in the Black Forest, only a few kilometres from Strasbourg/France. We strolled through the town, visited some sights like the former monastery, the remains of the wall with three preserved towers and the narrow cobbled streets. Right this day there was a flea market on the main square with lots of people, which we liked. We had nice lunch at restaurant Pfeffermühle. Finally we headed to the "Bergli", an excellent viewing point above the town (15 minutes walking), right in the vineyards with a chapel on top. Hm, you can imagine we could not refuse to get a grape of the Pinot Noir. Delicious!! The views of the town and the valley were fantastic. Bad luck for photos though, because the sun was low above the town. Dinner was in the "Torkelhof", a rustic wine restaurant; nothing special.

Wed, Sept 17

Day trip to Strasbourg. We purchased an "Europass" (6.60 Euro p. person) and took the train 8:52 from Gengenbach. Changes in Offenburg and Kehl (bus). Arrived Strasbourg at 10 am. The city is really a must see, but very, very crowded. We started with the cathedral, the major sight. A stunning building, a perfect work of gothic architecture and art. I was turned off by the crowds, though. It was noisy!! Anyway, we spent an hour or so inside, saw the astronomical clock, the angel pillar, the side chapels, the organ, the stained glass windows etc. Most impressive is the western front from outside in my opinion.

Later we strolled through the narrow streets and took lots of photos (Maison Kammerzell e.g. is picturesque!). We found a nice restaurant for lunch, L'Ancienne Douanne, with a terrace right on the Ill river. Two course menu was 18 Euro. I had fish (zander) filet with rice and salad (fair), my friend a chicken pie with pasta and salad (excellent). Cannot remember the dessert, sorry. Service was very good, and so was the white wine.

Then we took the boat tour around the old town island on the Ill river (start at Chateau Rohan). It was very enjoyable and it is my No. 1 recommendation for what to do in Strasbourg. It took about 90 minutes for 8 Euro per person. Highlights of the tour are the passages of the locks, the views of Petite France, the covered bridges and, surprisingly, the modern architecture of the European Parliament and the European Council of Human Rights. Comments were in French, English and German.

Later we did some (window) shopping around Place Broglie and Place Kleber. By chance we found a true gem: the church of St. Pierre-le-jeune (please forgive me the wrong spelling, I don't speak French). Not crowded and wonderful gothic architecture with fantastic frescos. Unfortunately the convent/cloisters were closed for renovation.

We took the train 6.24 pm back and arrived 7.05 pm in Gengenbach (change in Offenburg) ? very convenient. We decided to take advantage of the accommodation's kitchen and had some bread, cheese, salami plus red wine, bought in Strasbourg, for dinner. At 9 pm the Nightwatchman's tour started at the main square in front of the town hall. It took about 90 minutes and was a unique experience. The Nightwatchman was dressed in historical suit and told us a lot about Gengenbach's history.
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Old Sep 27th, 2003, 05:49 AM
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Thur, Sept 18

On the road to Switzerland! The traffic on the motorway was again awful. Finally I missed the latest exit before the Swiss border (did not want to buy a sticker/vignette), but the Swiss customs officer was very friendly, stopped the traffic and opened a barrage so I could turn the car and drive back the opposite track. Saved 40 Sfr.! Well, driving is a hassle in cities. Luckily I had driven through Basel before, but it was still difficult to find the right direction. I guess all the transit drivers have a vignette and use the motorway. But I drove right through the city centre, via Wettstein bridge, which offers fantastic views of the old town with cathedral and the magnificent river front houses. Only 30 minutes later we reached the Jura mountains and passed through beautiful scenery with nice villages like Waldenburg. A little appetiser for the Alps!

At noon we stopped in Solothurn and made a picnic by the Aare river, watching the "skyline" of its wonderful old town and the Jura mountains above. We added a stroll through the old town and visited the impressive classical style cathedral, the Baroque Jesuiten church, decorated with gorgeous stucco, and passed by some more fascinating buildings like the clock tower with astronomical clock, the Renaissance style town hall, the fortifications, fountains with figures etc. A very much underrated city!

A short while after leaving Solothurn toward Bern we almost did not trust our eyes when we saw the Bernese Alps appear. The snow capped Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, Blümlisalp etc. were clearly to recognise! We approached Adelboden at 5 pm. This village is located in the Western part of the Bernese Alps, where the mountains are considerably lower than in the Jungfrau region, but still impressive with glaciers. The advantage is that this area is (mostly) not crowded and less touristy. Adelboden itself nestles on a sunny slope at the end of the Engstligen valley, offers a great variety of accommodation from apartments to four-star hotels, some cable cars, hiking trails etc.

We had booked the 4star Hotel Beau-Site through a German travel agency. The rate was definitely a bargain: only 320 Euro per person for a week incl. half-board (breakfast and dinner). We got a superior room (which we had booked), spacious with living corner, third floor, large balcony toward west and since it was a corner room it had another front with large windows to the north. The views from the balcony were stunning: the village, mountains everywhere around, most impressive was the view of the two miles away Engstligen water falls (illuminated at night!) and the main crest of the Bernese Alps above (Wildstrubel 3243 m, with glaciers).

The hotel (38 rooms) is well worth a recommendation. The service was very attentive, breakfast buffet offered a variety of bread, croissants, several jams, honey, muesli, yoghurt, diverse juices, hot chocolate, coffee, tea, you could order ham and eggs or so. Just wonderful. In the evening we had a five-course dinner with soup, first course, salad buffet (hmmm!), main course (choice out of six), dessert (again choice out of six). The staff had reserved a table for us right on the large panoramic windows, which provided unbelievable views of the mountains (sunset!). Lobby and bar were cosy places for meeting people. I was surprised that about 30 % of the guests were English.

Fri, Sept 19

We went to the main street of the village, visited the gothic church with nice frescos and wonderful stained glass windows, and hopped on a horse-drawn carriage which for a round trip to a nearby glen with nice hamlets. The horse-drawn carriage is called "Rösslipost" and runs every hour from 10 to 16. The cost for guests who stay in Adelboden is 15 Sfr. for the round trip, but you can also take it for a couple of stops and walk back. The ride takes about 1.5 hours with a 20 minutes stop at the restaurant Schärmtanne. The weather was fantastic (almost too warm), so we enjoyed it very much. On the way we saw the typical wooden chalets with blooming flowers, cows, dogs etc. Not to forget the mountains (Albristhorn 2763 m)! In fact we missed the call after the 20 minutes stop at Schärmtanne, so we had to wait another hour for the next carriage. Not too bad, we walked around, had a cafe at the terrace of the restaurant and later almost an accident with a mad cow.

Back to the village we decided to go up to Tschentenalp (1940 m) by a gondola. They call it the "place where panoramic views were invented". IMO a little too much honour, but the views were indeed fascinating. Even the top of the Eiger above Grindelwald was in sight, but Gross Lohner (3048 m) and Wildstrubel (3243 m) with its glacier caught the eye. Well, after a picnic we walked down to Adelboden via Hörnli (botanical garden with alpine flowers), which took another 2 hours.
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Old Sep 27th, 2003, 05:52 AM
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Sat, Sept 20

A first hike was on the agenda. We took the bus to Geils (1707 m). The gondola from there to Hahnenmoos pass (1956 m) was under revision, so a small bus took us further to the pass. Beautiful views from there back towards Adelboden and the valley and to the other direction of Lenk, the Simmental and the mountains above. We hiked southwards and decided to climb up steeply to the Regenboldshorn (2193 m). Wow, that view was gorgeous! Wildstrubel and Glacier de la Plaine Morte right vis-a-vis, Wildhorn (3248 m) and Les Diablerets with its glaciers further to the western direction. The way down was a little tricky though ... We continued down via Bütschi where we met some hunters (it was beginning of hunting season) and via Bütschi water falls down to Bergläger (1486 m) from where we took the gondola back to Adelboden.

It was still early afternoon, so we went by bus to Unter dem Birg, from where we took the cable car up to Engstligenalp (1964 m). The views of the Engstligen water falls from the cable car are very impressive. Engstligenalp is a large plain with hotels, restaurants, walking paths etc. right below the Wildstrubel massif. It is very popular in winter, too, for alpine and cross-country skiing, relaxing etc. At 5 pm we took the last bus back to the Adelboden.

Sun, Sept 21

We felt in good shape, so we decided to do a more serious hike today. We went by bus to Elsigenbach (change in Achseten), where a cable car took us up to Elsigenalp (1797 m). It's another nice place with green meadows, cows, restaurants etc. and also very popular for skiing in winter. We hiked up to Golitschenpass (2180 m) where a fantastic panorama opened up: the mountains above Kandersteg, Balmhorn (3698 m), Doldenhorn (3642 m), Blüemlisalphorn (3664 m) with their glaciers, Oeschinen lake and the village Kandersteg below. After a picnic we hiked down the steep path via Golitschenalp (1833 m), where you can buy cheese and milk, to Kandersteg (1175 m). Very exhausting. We were right in time for the train back to Frutigen, where we changed for the bus to Adelboden.

Mon, Sept 22

My knees were aching, so it had to be a more relaxing day. We took the gondola up to Sillerenbühl (1978 m), hiked via Hahnenmoospass to the top station (1966 m) of the chair lift from Lenk. It was easy and took us about 1.30 hours. The ride with the chair lift down to Metsch (1600 m) was absolutely enjoyable, from there a cable car brought us down to Rotebach (1078 m) and another nice 30 minutes walk along the Simme creek later we approached Lenk. It is a typical Bernese Oberland village with wooden chalets, quite unspoilt with family-type hotels, apartments and chalets. I noticed some groups of kids, probably a result of the fall holidays which had begun in Switzerland right this weekend.

We took the MOB train to Zweisimmen, where we changed to the BLS train (part of the Golden Pass Panoramic route). We got off at Boltigen, a very small village, visited the church and watched some beautiful wooden chalets (and took photos of course!). We hopped on the next local train to Erlenbach, where we spent an hour strolling through the village. The highlight was of course the church with its famous frescos, a sort of gothic picture bible. Definitely a must see. Continued with the next train to Spiez, where we changed for Frutigen. As usual, public transportation in Switzerland was sufficient, so we had excellent connection back to Adelboden.
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Old Sep 27th, 2003, 05:53 AM
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Tue, Sept 23

A weather change was predicted, so we headed to Thun. We walked through the city, from the lake/river promenades to the old town, crossed the lovely covered bridges and walked up to the hill with church and castle. It is a quiet place where you can still feel medieval atmosphere. The church is nothing special, a simple Baroque hall with some works of art. On the other edge of the hill you find the castle, built 1190 ? 1250. It is perfectly preserved and houses a museum beside some administration offices. I had seen the museum inside before, so we did not go in. We had picnic on the northern edge of the plateau beside the walls, enjoying the stunning views over the city and of the mountains. We continued along the medieval walls down to the old town. The market square is surrounded with Baroque houses with arcades and offers picturesque views with the castle above. We added some (mostly window) shopping in the Obere Hauptgasse and then changed to the Bälliz, a more modern street. Finally we entered a café where I had Vermicelles and a café ? very delicious.

When we came back to Adelboden it rained cats and dogs.

Wed, Sept 24

Stuck in clouds and cold in Adelboden (+5 Celsius). After some shopping in Adelboden (I bought too much which brought me trouble with the German customs later) we decided to go to Spiez and visit some historical sites. Spiez is located on a bay of Lake Thun, has vineyards and a nice lake promenade (they call it a "marina&quot. Well, it was relaxing to walk from the railway station down to the lake (15 minutes), passing some residential areas, and stroll along the promenade with restaurants and cafes. The historical sites (castle and church with gardens) sits on a little hill slightly above the bay. Picturesque! The Romanesque church is one of the legendary 12 churches around Lake Thun, built in the 10th century. The one in Spiez is perfectly preserved, an authentic Romanesque style church with Lombardy influences. Frescos from the 12th century are to see as well inside. Afterwards we visited the nearby medieval castle, which shows rooms with interior from 13th to 18th century. Finally you can climb up the tower (built in the 12th century) which provides gorgeous views of the lake and the Bernese Alps.

Thur, Sept 25

After a farewell-breakfast, again with magnificent views of the mountains on a sunny morning, we said goodbye to Adelboden and drove home. We stopped in Utzenstorf (between Bern and Solothurn) to see castle Landshut. It is located in a nice garden on a small island and looks very picturesque. Unfortunately it was closed in the morning, so we had picnic in the garden and continued back home.

The drive through Basel was much more relaxing than before (missed the turn to the border crossing station though and took a detour towards Riehen). For the first time I had problems with German customs, because I had bought way too many clothes. Did you know you have to pay 10% taxes if you have goods of a value of more than 175 Euro with you when entering the EU from a Non-EU country?

The drive home on the motorway was again horrible. Especially the part between Karlsruhe and Nürnberg is a hassle. Trucks and road works.

All in all I enjoyed the vacation very much. Gengenbach was a little bit disappointing (I found the people to be not too friendly), Strasbourg was too crowded (I might forget this in a couple of weeks) but offered great architecture. Adelboden and the Bernese Oberland were nice with beautiful scenery, the people very friendly, the hotel excellent, food very good. However, I still love the Engadin and look forward to my next vacation there.

I am working on the photos and will post here (or on the SGFTWLS thread) when they are online.
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Old Sep 27th, 2003, 05:57 AM
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Oh, Ingo, you've made my day! I have not even started to read your report yet, but I know it will be great! We're going through a bit of a rickety patch here, and any distraction is much appreciated! Thanks so much! I'll begin right this minute and read very slowly to make it last through two cups of coffee. J.
Old Sep 27th, 2003, 06:22 AM
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If she hasn't seen it already, I know S' will say that you are torturing us. What a great trip! Frescos of my dreams! Villages I've long wanted to visit -- like Boltigen and Erlenbach -- and places I've enjoyed -- like Strasbourg and lovely Solothurn --. I look forward to the pictures. Merci beaucoup. J.
Old Sep 27th, 2003, 10:46 AM
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Very nice, Ingo! (she says, generously overlooking his little "dig&quot

Once again, you are over the top with details and information that are incredibly helpful to anyone wanting to travel to Switzerland (and France and Germany as well this time). Bravo!
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Old Sep 27th, 2003, 11:29 AM
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Was there scaffolding on the spire of the Strasbourg cathedral? We were there last year and it was covered with scaffolding and green netting. We are returning in a few weeks and are hoping that the spire will be visible.
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Old Sep 27th, 2003, 12:56 PM
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Unfortunately the spire was under scaffolding. I did not see any green netting though.

Thanks for overlooking the "dig", Grasshopper!
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Old Sep 28th, 2003, 07:21 PM
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very enjoyable tour ...i loved reading the details...don't look for that from me...i mix up the names so tend to keep quiet about them...

see you in nov/dec

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Old Sep 29th, 2003, 01:31 AM
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Thanks for the nice comments, folks! The pictures of the Gengenbach/Strasbourg leg of the trip are online now:


You have to register at ofoto, but this should be no problem.
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Old Sep 29th, 2003, 01:34 AM
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And so are the photos of the Switzerland part of the trip:


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Old Sep 29th, 2003, 10:35 AM
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Ingo!! You cad!

Just when I had my obsession (almost) under control --

Your travelogue was bad enough -- perfect descriptions of the villages, the views, and the gentle life there. Your narrative really made this a vicarious trip we could all take! I'm really impressed with how quickly you got this done!

But your photos are, as usual, exquisite! Gorgeous photos! You & jw are a veritable art appreciation/education course!! I outta pay ya!

Thanks for the great church shots & comments on the architecture and interiors.

Thanks for the shots of the Jura mountains and Solothurn -- making me more eager to see that corner of Switzerland!

Thanks for the shots of the promenade at the Aare in Thun; could you see my spirit perking up?? You know how I love waterside promenades, and there were xxxx many hiking posts in that shot. I wanna go!

Thanks for the shots of Spiez and its bay -- how delightful! Can't wait till I see it for myself!

Ooohh, they're all beautiful, but I think I really loved the pictures of Thun -- what a lovely and typical town it looks like. Its buildings and streets just speak to me of generations and generations of sweet living in the shade of the alps. And the wide views that include the mountains and lake rival the best I've seen of Lake Luzern. That little place seems to have it all.

I'm sitting in the middle of a serious time management problem, so I'll write more later. At least, Grasshopper if you're reading this, fewer flagrant typos . . . ?

Love to all,

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Old Sep 29th, 2003, 02:09 PM
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Thanks s for your VERY kind words.

When I walked the Aare promenades of Thun and the promenade of Spiez' Bay I really imagined you being there. I knew you would love it.

As far as I know you are much more a scenery person than a fresco/art person - so I thank you still more for the kind comments on the fresco photos

I've made some observations which might be helpful for your upcoming January trip. I'll tell you later per email, okay?

Later, Ingo
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Old Sep 29th, 2003, 02:43 PM
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My comments were pretty poor for the quality of your work -- both images and narrative. I'm just really pressed for time, so I can't think clearly and enthusiastically. But your reports & photos are always inspiring.

Of course I'd love to hear your comments, but don't let me USE you as a travel counsellor. I felt almost guilty giving you so many details that you may feel compelled to comment on them. But, if the effort will bring you back to (die?) Schweiz temporarily, and if you'll enjoy it -- I surely will love to hear your comments!

I ought to be doing something else now, so I will.

My best,

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Old Oct 1st, 2003, 08:17 AM
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Loved your report. Printed it out for our trip to Switzerland in the Spring. Thanks!!!
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Old Oct 2nd, 2003, 02:04 PM
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Hello Ingo,

a very detailed, interesting and funny report ... Now I am well informed about your amazing trip ... I will check your photos soon ...

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Old Oct 2nd, 2003, 02:53 PM
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Wow! I did not expect to get so many kind comments. Thanks folks!

Welcome Horscheck, and special thanks to you as a new member!

Weekend is near, s ...

Ciao, Ingo
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Old Oct 4th, 2003, 05:48 AM
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Hi, I'm in the middle of looking at the Swiss photos, Ingo, and I've a question: How did you take that picture of the astronomical clock in Solothurn? Zoom? From a second floor window? Would you believe I didn't even see it when I was in Solothurn? I'll just have to return. Later, J.
Old Oct 4th, 2003, 05:52 AM
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Hi jw,

it was zoom. BTW, did you know that entrance to the museums in Solothurn is free?

I hope you enjoy the pics!

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