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

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

Old Jul 9th, 2010, 10:19 AM
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Melissa5 in SWITZERLAND: A Riot of Wildflowers - Berner Oberland June 2010

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. 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. 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.

Cowbells tinkle and jangle, each one ringing a different note...a lone alphorn serenades the moody landscape... 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 <b>Lucerne</b>.
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.)
5 nights: <b>Murren</b>: 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.)
6 nights: <b>Wengen</b>: Hotel Berghaus (run by Martina Fontana & her father)
(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: <b>Zurich</b>: 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.)
Fly Zurich to LAX nonstop on Swiss International Airlines
Drive rental car LAX to San Diego

<i>Alas, there is no cure for "Berner Oberland Withdrawal Pains"! We are already planning our next trip to Switzerland! 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.)</i>

<b>COMING UP NEXT: BEST & WORST of our Switzerland Trip!</b>
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Old Jul 9th, 2010, 10:39 AM
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<b>Hotel Bellevue in Murren</b>:

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

Hotel Bellevue in Murren was our favorite hotel in Switzerland! (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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Old Jul 9th, 2010, 05:19 PM
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Glad you had a great time Melissa - I look forward to hearing the details of your trip!
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Old Jul 9th, 2010, 06:06 PM
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Hello Melissa5

Welcome to the <red>I LOVE SWITZERLAND</red> 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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Old Jul 9th, 2010, 06:56 PM
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Melissa, what were some great hotels in Wengen that you saw?

Maybe Keith and I will change our reservations.

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Old Jul 9th, 2010, 08:03 PM
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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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Old Jul 9th, 2010, 09:22 PM
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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.

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Old Jul 10th, 2010, 08:39 AM
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<b>HappyCheesehead:</b> 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.

<b>swisshiker:</b> 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. So you've been back to Switzerland for 20 years! Wow! How great is that!

<b>ThinGorjus:</b> 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!

<b>Melnq8:</b> 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.

<b>swandav2000</b>, 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!
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Old Jul 10th, 2010, 05:29 PM
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The lovely town of <b>Luzern (Lucerne)</b>, 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, 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. Our 1st class Swiss Passes included passage on the boat rides on the upper decks, and we enjoyed 2 scenic boat rides: one <b>sunset cruise</b> along <b>Lake Luzern (Luzernersee)</b>, and a second longer boat trip from Lake Luzern all the way to the <b>Urnersee</b>, which is the furthest lake. The Urnersee is far more scenic than Lake Luzern, and its a <b>6-hour round trip boat ride</b> if you do the whole thing.

If you are staying in Luzern, we highly recommend you take the boat ride to the <b>Urnersee</b>, and make a stop wherever you fancy.

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 <b>Rutli Meadow</b> 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 <b>Urnersee</b>, it is very windy, and we saw lots of colorful <b>parasailers</b> on the water.

We also had time to go up to <b>Mt. Rigi</b>. We took the train up to Rigi, enjoyed the views, and had a cup of tea at the deserted <b>Rigi Kulm Hotel</b>, 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. 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.

Our 2 favorite <b>restaurants</b> in Luzern were:

<b>Restaurant Rathaus Brauerei, Luzern</b>
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.

<b>Restaurant Taube, Luzern</b>
Location: Burgerstrasse 3
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.

<b>Romantik Hotel Wilden Mann Luzern</b>
Bahnhofstrasse 30, Luzern
We enjoyed our <b>hotel</b>, 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!

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Old Jul 11th, 2010, 12:33 AM
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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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Old Jul 11th, 2010, 12:43 AM
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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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Old Jul 11th, 2010, 12:55 AM
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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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Old Jul 11th, 2010, 08:40 AM
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Thanks schuler and MLF611.
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Old Jul 11th, 2010, 04:08 PM
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<b>cafegoddess</b>: 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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Old Jul 11th, 2010, 04:18 PM
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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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Old Jul 11th, 2010, 04:26 PM
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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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Old Jul 12th, 2010, 12:03 PM
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<b>love_travel_Aus:</b> 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...)

<b>drchris:</b> 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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Old Jul 12th, 2010, 12:18 PM
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<b>MURREN, BERNER OBERLAND: Schilthorn, Allmendhubel, Northface-Trail, Gimmelwald</b>

<b>Introduction: Murren & Berner Oberland</b>

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.

<b>Journey: Luzern to Murren</b>

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.)

<b>Hotel Bellevue, Murren: </b>
Ruth & Othmar Suter
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.

<b>Breakfast With A View: Hotel Bellevue, Murren:</b>
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!

<b>Dinner at Hotel Bellevue:</b>
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.

<b>Jungfrau Reverie: Alps in the Night: View From Murren</b>

The 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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Old Jul 12th, 2010, 12:37 PM
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--<b>Northface Trail</b>
(From Murren, take the Allmendhubel cable car up to access the trail.)
Time: 2 hours :-? (posted on sign)
(Actual Time: 5 hours with frequent stops for photos, flower viewing, journaling, and a refreshing pause for a bowl of hot soup at the last farmhouse.)

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

--<b>Schilthorn & Piz Gloria</b>
From Murren, take the Schilthornbahn cable car up to Piz Gloria restaurant.
Panoramic views from deck outside of the Piz Gloria restaurant on a clear day! Awesome!

--<b>Murren to Gimmelwald</b>
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.)

<i>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.</i>

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

<b>Northface Trail: A Riot of Wildflowers</b>

The Northface Trail above Murren was magical! 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.

<b> <i>Below I am sharing some creative writing from my journal, written from the Northface trail above Murren:</i> </b>

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.

Melissa5 is offline  
Old Jul 12th, 2010, 01:05 PM
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marking to read later after reading - curious after reading your planning posts what really happened.
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