Where have you stayed in Switzerland?

Old Jun 2nd, 2004, 02:55 PM
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Where have you stayed in Switzerland?

Our itinerary might include Switzerland. My friend wants to go to Grindewald. I have read about the villages of Gimmewald and Murren as well. Do you have any preferences? How should it take to get used to the altitudes in these areas of the Alps? We plan to fly to Zurich and take the train to our destination and stay for 4 nights. Should that be adequate time?
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Old Jun 2nd, 2004, 02:55 PM
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How LONG should it take...
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Old Jun 2nd, 2004, 03:45 PM
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Greetings. We've spent quite a lot of time in the Berner Oberland, and it's just spectacular. I don't know the exact travel time from Zurich, but it won't be long. My guess is 2 hours or less to Interlaken, then another hour or so up into the Oberland. (All this info should be online). I think 4 nights would be perfect. It's gorgeous and relaxing, but it's not like there are tons of sights that you must see.

As to the different villages, they are very different. Grindelwald is accessible by car, and is fairly touristy (although still quite lovely). Murren is accessible by cogwheel train or cable car, and is quite a lovely little place, with remarkable views of the big three - Jungfrau, Eiger and Munch. To my mind, Murren is a better option than Grindelwald, provided you're not looking for nightlife. Gimmelwald is really just a couple of barns on a path. Seriously, I know Rick Steves has given the place lots of cachet, but there's just nothing there. It's a nice place to hike to from Murren, but I'd definitely stay in one of the other villages.

The one you didn't mention is actually our favorite - Wengen. It's on the same side of the Valley as Grindelwald, so you don't get the views of all three mountains. But it's just sort of the perfect combination of the others - small and inaccessible enough that it's absolutely peaceful, but with enough restaurants and hotels that it's a step above camping.

Have a great trip, and bring extra film or discs. The views will blow your mind.

Old Jun 2nd, 2004, 04:43 PM
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I have been to all three and definitely prefer Murren. Agree with kebanks about Gimmelwald! Rick Steves certainly has helped their economy but stay in Murren and stroll down to have a look at Gimmelwald. Have a great time. CJ
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Old Jun 2nd, 2004, 04:53 PM
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Most of the villagea are not so high that altitude is a major issue. We found that up to about 7,000 feet you can do you normal activities - if a little more slowly. At least for us its only when you go 10,000 feet and above that you really notice a difference - feel a little light headed or disoriented. Have not spent enought time at that altitude to know how ong it takes to disappear.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2004, 06:24 PM
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I have spent a week, or more, in Lauterbrunnen each September since 1998 and plan to return this year.
I found a good apartment there to rent by the week at a good price. Lauterbrunnen is a transportation center, so I am not there usually during day. Instead, I am out on a trail, or riding a mountain train or tram, or doing something to get up higher and deeper into the mountains.

For a short stay I think there are two choices for places with spectacular views: Mürren or Wengen. Both are "car free" and located on opposite sides of the valley; Mürren is on the west side and Wengen is on the east.

Having gone to both many times, I cannot really offer you help in making a decision because I like both of them equally.

Mürren to me has a slightly better view of the Jungfrau because of its angle, but that might touch off some disagreement. Wengen has a great view of the valley itself, the mountains to the south, and the glacial ridge called the Männlichen that towers over the valley. When you look up, you see that the steep slopes are studded with snow fences and other avalanche protection devices.

Also, I think getting in and out of Wengen is a shade easier, but there is mountain transportation to both of them.
Mürren in fact can be reached two ways.
(1) Take the bus, or drive, to Stechelberg where the valley station of the Schilthornbahn is located. You can ride up to Mürren in a big cable hanging from a cable. As it rises, you get a great view of the Jungfrau. (2) Take the cable car up the side of the valley from Lauterbrunnen to Grutschalp and ride the little train to Mürren.
Just don't expect service at 2 AM; it is not available.

Wengen is served by a subsidiary of the Berner Oberland Bahn (BOB) called the Wengener Alp Bahn or WAB from Lauterbrunnen, which in turn is served by the BOB from Interlaken Ost.

Grindelwald is much larger, and more active, than any of the other 3. It is also more crowded. There are times when the sidewalks are so full of people that I end up walking in the street, which is not the best place because of cars, but at times it is the only route unless you like pushing through crowds, which I don't.

Because of the high density of hotels, Wengen and Mürren can be a little crowded too, but the village area of both is much smaller, and everybody is on foot with the exception of a few electric carts.

The hotels in both places hit me as being upscale. a 3-star hotel in Switzerland usually gets you a nice place. Not luxury like the 5 star places, which are frightfully expensive, but still clean and comfortable.

Gimmelwald for some reason got Steves to say something about it, but look it up on the web to see what is there. I have walked through it a few times on my way somewhere else. Therefore I agree with the above evaluations of it. If you want cheap lodging, that is the place to go. You can sleep in the straw for a low price. I prefer not too, which is why I rent an apartment.

50 years ago, it might have been fun. But not now. As one German friend of mine put it, "Usually some moron brings is dog that wanders around nuzzling the sleepers all night hunting for somebody to pet him or her." Nothing like a big dog plopping down next to you on a cold night to get warmer.
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