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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 12th, 2010, 01:52 PM
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<b>PalenQ:</b> 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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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 05:09 PM
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<b>Schilthorn & Piz Gloria </b>
From Murren, take the Schilthornbahn cable car up to Piz Gloria restaurant.
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 <b>cable car up to the Schilthorn</b> 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 <b>Schilthornbahn cable car from Murren</b>. 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:

<b>Inspiring View at the Schilthorn:</b>

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!

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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 06:24 PM
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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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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 06:47 PM
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<i>"Both require a scenic cable car ride. (Well unless you want to walk up!!!)"</i>

Or run up!

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.


In the evening there's a huge party in Murren. Such fun!!
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 06:50 PM
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Enjoying your report and, as many others, dreaming of being back in the B.O. PLease tell me you can include some pictures or a link to a photoshare?!
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 06:51 PM
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Woops, posted too soon.

Then the run from Stechelberg all the way up to the Schilthorn. Can you imagine?
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 08:59 PM
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<b>Melnq8:</b> 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! Was there any yodeling? We heard yodeling in one folkloric evening in Lauterbrunnen...it was so lovely and haunting and beautiful.

<b>swisshiker:</b> 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.

<b>cjbpjb:</b> 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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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 09:36 PM
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<b>Mountain View Trail (above Murren)</b>

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?

<i>NOTE: Bring your sunglasses. BUT if you wear <b>prescription lenses</b> 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!</i> 8-)

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.)

<b>Flower Trail:</b>
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!

<b>Murren To Gimmelwald Walk</b>

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!

<b>Lunch: Pension Gimmelwald</b>

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.
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 09:51 PM
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Our favorite 2 places to <b>eat in Murren</b> were:

--<b>Hotel Bellevue</b> (outside dining terrace with a view or inside restaurant.)

--<b>Restaurant La Grotte</b> 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)

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. 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!)

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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 11:58 PM
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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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Old Jul 15th, 2010, 04:22 AM
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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!
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Old Jul 15th, 2010, 07:09 AM
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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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Old Jul 15th, 2010, 08:44 AM
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<b>TravMimi:</b> 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! 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...

<b>swisshiker:</b> 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!

<b>lincasanova:</b> Oh you will love it! 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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Old Jul 20th, 2010, 11:54 PM
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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.)

<b>Hotel Berghaus, Wengen</b>

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.

<b>View of the Alps from our balcony:</b>

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.

<b>Sunset after the Rain with Alphorn Serenade!</b>

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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Old Jul 21st, 2010, 12:15 AM
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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.




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 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. So you might want to stay on the main trails! I wonder if we took a shortcut trail meant only for mountain goats?! One group of hikers stopped on the main trail above us to yodel at us.

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! 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.

<i>(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!)</i>

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!


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.


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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Old Jul 21st, 2010, 12:43 AM
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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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Old Jul 21st, 2010, 12:47 AM
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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.)

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

<b>Hotel Berghaus: Dining</b>
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.


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


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.

<b>Trummelbach Falls, Lauterbrunnen Valley:</b>

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 (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.


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


We recommend the <b>Hotel Oberland restaurant</b> 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.



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.

<b>Souvenirs in Wengen:</b>

We bought nice souvenirs at the <b>Swiss Made Shop</b> 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.

<b> <i>plus TIPS FOR SWITZERLAND TRAVEL</i> </b>
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Old Jul 21st, 2010, 12:55 AM
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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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Old Jul 21st, 2010, 02:57 AM
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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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Old Jul 21st, 2010, 03:10 AM
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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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