Swiss Hiking Report

Old Jul 29th, 2019, 09:05 PM
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Swiss Hiking Report

Quick & dirty Switzerland hiking report

I went to Switzerland on a hiking trip with Ibex Ski Club from Arlington Heights, Il.

Apps I found useful: Google Translate, Charity Miles, All Trails, Peak Finder

All traveling was done with either a Jungfrau travel pass or a Zermatt travel pass except where indicated.

We left Friday, 6/28 on Swiss Air at 7:10 pm. We took a motor coach from Zurich Airport to Grindelwald. We stayed at the Eiger Selfness Hotel. I liked the hotel very much. My room was back in the Annex so I got to walk through the closed restaurant every time I wanted to go into or out of my room (except during dinner hours, the restaurant was opened.) I had a coffee maker in my room as well as a mini fridge. Everything in the fridge was complimentary: water, beer, snacks. Saturday night was a group dinner at Barry’s restaurant in the hotel. It was a select your-own-ingredient-stir-fry. I enjoyed it a lot.

Sunday, 6/29, the group was supposed to hike from either Alpiglen or Kleine Scheddegg to Mannlichen. There was supposed to be some sort of Swiss festival. We walked down to the train station & bought the 3 day Jungfrau pass (about $150 USD). Ticket agent was asking for passports as a form of ID. Some people were scrambling for photo ID but as an experienced traveler I had my passport with me. I got my pass & hopped onto the train to Kleine Scheidegg. I was with two other women from the group. We watched as the conductor told the young man next to us that he had the wrong train pass & charged him $53 for a ticket from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg. Penny starts talking to him. She tells him there is a rock festival in Mannlichen. She says he shouldn’t miss it because it is the “Woodstock of Switzerland”. I’m just shaking my head. How did a Swiss festival turn into the Woodstock of Switzerland?

Penny, Mary, and I got off the train in Kleine Scheidegg & that is when the trouble started. The trails aren’t marked very well. We wanted the trail to Mannlichen but somehow ended up on the Lauberhorn trail. We walked straight uphill for about 3 hours! We were never out of sight of the train station. We walked all the way up to the chairlift. Mary said, “Are you sure this is the easy route?” Penny replied, “This is Switzerland, the trails are all difficult.”We finally saw a guy on a bike & he told us we were on the wrong trail. L. We walked back down to the train station & stopped at the Hotel Bellvue to have lunch. I had an amazing caprese sandwich with pesto on focaccia bread. The other two had Greek salads. We sat out on the patio under the Eiger Mountain & had a lovely lunch. After lunch I still wanted to hike to Mannlichen but the other two were tired. I convinced them we should to take the train to Wengen & cable car up to Mannlichen. Which we did. When we got to Mannlichen we found about a dozen Swiss people in folk dress dancing folk dances & music provided by a little Swiss folk band. So much for the “Woodstock of Switzerland”. I wonder if that young man from the train ever made it there? After a glass of wine at the Berghaus Mannlichen we headed back to Grindelwald. That night we had another group dinner at Barry’s Restaurant in the hotel. It was breaded pork tenderloin & it was very good.

Daily Stats: 4.2 miles, 31 floors

Monday, 7/1 the plan was for the group to hike from First past Bachalpsee and then to Restaurant Bussalp for lunch. The group took the gondola to First. We spent some time on the cliff walk at First and the hiked to Bachalpsee. It was a very nice walk. The first part was steep but then it leveled out. This was a very beautiful hike with lots of waterfalls, alpine meadows & flowers & beautiful mountains. Unfortunately, once again we ended up on the wrong trail. So instead of lunch at Bussalp we ended up having lunch at Waldspitz. Probably the worst meal I had in Switzerland. The group was just too big for that little restaurant. I had some sort of cheese toast with bacon & mushrooms which was not what I had ordered. If you do go to Waldspitz stick with the macaroni. That was delicious! We ended up taking the bus back to Grindlewald. For dinner Mary, Penny & I went to a restaurant near the train station. We sat outside on the patio. I had the salad bar & the raclette. The bill was messed up when we got it. I don’t know if it was deliberate or not but we had to call the waitress back three times before the bill was correct. The food was just OK.

Daily stats: 5.9 miles, 20 floors

On my last day in Grindelwald I took the train to Wilderswill & then the cog wheel train to Schynige Platte to hike. I was with three other women from the group. This trail is very popular & it is difficult to lose your way. It had everything, cows, wild flowers, Alpine meadows, incredible views of Interlaken. The hike is an out and back again loop. After the hike we stopped and had lunch at the restaurant. This is a must do hike. For dinner, my roommate & I ate at the hotel in Bistro Memory. We ate out on the patio. I ordered some sort of pork in gravy but I found my food too salty. The man at the table next to me ordered a hamburger & it looked like that burger was at least a pound! I had plate envy!

Daily stats: 5.1 miles, 30 floors

The next day, Wednesday, 7/3 we took a motor coach from Grindelwald to Zermatt.
End of Part One
cheribob is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2019, 01:54 PM
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Enjoying your report. Sorry to hear you had trouble locating the trail to Mannlichen. You probably could have just followed the crowd.

We've hiked in Switzerland quite a bit and find the trails generally very well marked...but we've gotten on the wrong trail a few times too. All part of the adventure.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2019, 09:19 PM
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When I checked into the Hotel Anitka in Zermatt I thought I stepped back in time. There was only 1 key for the room on a huge key ring! The door was unlocked/locked using the key. The hotel was very basic but it was 1 block from the church & there was a little convenience store on the corner. (Hotel Eiger Selfness was also about 2 doors down from a grocery store). But there was an amazing view of the Matterhorn from the balcony!
I stopped a pub with 3 other women from the group. The pub had a limited menu but what they had was good. I had prosciutto & melon, one woman had a beautiful salad, the two others had some shrimp thing. This was the first time I found out that not everyone understands dynamic currency conversion. One of the women in the group insisted on paying in USD. She just kept insisting that her cc did not charge her a transaction fee. Oh, well, I tried to help.

The first night in Zermatt there was a group fondue dinner at Restaurant Stockhorn. Of course it's pretty difficult to enjoy fondue when it is sweltering outside & no AC. I bailed as soon as I could & went and bought a crepe. I took it back to the hotel and ate it.

Thursday, July 4 I hiked the 5-Seenweg Hike; Stellisee, Grindjisee, Grunsee, Moosjisee, & Leisee. I was with two other women from our group & we met up with the group for a group lunch at mountain hut Adler Hitte. We had a little trouble finding the restaurant (Did I mention signage is a little scare?) But we met up with a nice young lady who helped us locate the restaurant using my iPhone. We were practically standing in front of it! I had an amazing lunch of chicken curry over pasta (topped with real saffron threads!).

Then of course we had to hike back down to Zermatt after lunch.

I can't remember what I did for dinner that night. What can I say I'm at "that" age!

Daily stats: 7.1 miles, 12 floors

Friday, July 5 I don't know if the lights were out in Georgia but they were certainly out in Zermatt. I wanted to go to Gornergrat but of course nothing was working. So instead a bunch of us hopped the train & went to Tash. In Tash we bought a ticket to Scion. There is a nice hill fortress in Scion. That was market day in Scion so we got to see all the farm stands. We had lunch in Scion but after lunch it was so hot I & another women from the group sat in the shade in a sidewalk café and drank wine. The rest of the group slogged up the hill to the fortress in 90 degree weather. It was crepe for dinner again.

No stats for today.

Saturday, July 6 most of the group went up to the glacier at Kleine Matterhorn. It was cool to walk around inside the glacier. It was cold too! It was very cold outside the gondola building also. People were skiing but conditions didn't look too good. People were only skiing in a small snow field and the snow looked pretty bad. Inside the glacier are several tunnels and ice sculptures & even an ice slide (one of our group tried it, not me, and it wasn't very slippery). There was also an ice bar. I don't know if it is ever used for the sale of alcohol. But it wasn't in use when I was there.

After we left the glacier we hiked to Stafelalp restaurant (mountain hut) for lunch. I finally got to see Schwarzee. I was surprised at how small it was.*Stafelalp was where I had my first Rosti & it was delicious! After lunch we hiked back to Zermatt. My new friend, Penny, and I went to the patio at the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof. We sat on the white sofas & drank wine & pretended to be rich people. We had a great local white wine called Johannisberg AOC Valais. As time passed more of our group walked by & we invited them to join us. While we were there we got to see the parade of athletes in town for the marathon. There were teams from all over Europe (but no US). Finally, about 6 of us wandered off in search of dinner & we ended up eating at Miss Vicki's restaurant on the river.

Daily stats: 7.1 miles, 6 floors

Sunday July 7, I finally made it to Gornergrat! It was partly cloudy but I did get to see the view & it was amazing! I got a late start because everyone wanted to watch the start of the marathon. It was exciting with the crowd, the announcer, and the athletes. We gave them a big cheer as the race started. The marathon was 26 miles straight uphill, from Zermatt to Riffelberg. There was also an ultramarathon. but I'm not sure of the route or exactly how far they were running. Those athletes were amazing. I could hardly walk up those mountains! At Gornergrat the Peak Finder app came in very handy. All I had to do was point my iPhone at a mountain & the app would identify it for me. I had lunch at the Gornergrat Hotel & then hiked down to Riffelberg. I would have liked to hike all the way to Riffelalp but I ran out of time. I am a very slow hiker but I wanted to enjoy hiking in the alps. I wanted to see more than my feet! There were a lot of people on the trail until I got to Riffelsee. After that I found myself suddenly alone on the trail. I came to a 3-way intersection & of course there were no trail markers. I tried to use the All Trails app but there was no signal. So now it's getting close to 4 pm, the clouds are gathering, my phone is almost out of charge, there is no cell service & I'm lost. I had a few moments of panic. But I figured I hadn't crossed the train tracks to Gornergrat so I headed in that direction. I can't tell you what relief I felt when I walked over a little rise & saw Riffelberg just ahead! I hopped on the train back to Zermatt & let everyone know I had arrived back safely. That night for dinner 6 of us went to a little restaurant close to the hotel. I ordered some sort of pasta thing, but it was like nothing I'd ever seen before. It was flat like a pancake & had cheese & summer squash between the layers with some sort of pork with gravy. Once again I had plate envy. Everyone's dinner looked better than mine.

Daily stats: 5.6 miles, 15 floors.

One note, Grindelwald had great cell service but Zermatt had really bad service. Even in the Zermatt hotel the WiFi was very bad. I ended up using AT&T $10/day data package.

I would go back & hike again. It was very easy to find my way around & the passes make traveling in the area very easy. I think the Zermatt pass was $192 USA for 3 days. I had to pay another $50 to add a fourth day.

I was very sad to leave Switzerland.*
There is so much to do and so many hiking trails. I could have easily spent more time in Grindelwald & Zermatt.
cheribob is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2019, 02:49 AM
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I have to get to Zermatt one day, sounds like you had a fantastic trip.
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