“Hmmm, the weather forecast doesn’t look good today either,” I said.
We were all having breakfast at the hotel. Local TV channels have one special channel with a live video feed of the nearby mountaintops. So that you can gauge the weather that you will be expecting when you go up. Our three days here at Interlaken was all cloudy and gloomy. Not the perfect weather to go to the mountains but quite nice for some hike. Which was what we were going to do.
We have already memorized the train schedule that’s leaving Interlaken for Lauterbrunnen, so we could take it easy with our breakfast and the brisk stroll to the train station from the hotel. I can’t emphasize how good the Swiss punctuality is for our daily usage. We don’t have to rush and we would always knew when the next train/bus would be coming around the corner if we missed the first one. It makes travel planning so much easier and flexible.
The town of Lauterbrunnen which can mean ‘clear springs’ or ‘many springs’ depending on the translation. Nestled in between two massive mountain walls, it is famous as the town with the backdrop of a waterfall, known as the Staubbach Falls.
Once you get off the platform, instead of following the masses and heading towards the town, make your way in the opposite direction, towards the carpark. Exit the carpark and you will find yourself in a tourist-free, residential area of Lauterbrunnen. This gives you a close-up look at how the people here lived. The Swiss really like their flowers. Almost every window, every garden around the area are dotted with flowers of various varieties.
Tip: Instead of exiting to the town, try exiting through the carpark on the opposite direction.
Lauterbrunnen is a fairly small town maybe of 2000 inhabitants. But during the tourist season, the numbers double. You can make this place as a base for your journeys around the Bernese Oberland area. The town itself is walkable, although at some places, the gradient takes a small toll on your calf muscles but nothing to worry about.
The main road is where most of the activity lies. Dotted by tourist-y shops, hiking gear and other tourist related businesses. We gave them all a skip as we make our way to the cable car towards Grütschalp. On any day, the cable car is just across the street from the train station but we had a detour to the outskirts of town to enjoy the views.
“Marvel at the efficiency of the Swiss engineering system.”
“Not only was the ride smooth, everyone was ooh-ing and aah-ing inside the cable car.”
Grütschalp to Mürren
“We need to make a decision. Lazy people take the train. Adventurous people walk. Which are you?”
That was the spirit. The only reason why we came up here was to take the hike from Grütschalp to Mürren. A car-free area. The hike is 4km long and will take up 2 hours, depending on how fast we can walk. The hike can be divided into two parts, from Grütschalp to Winteregg, and then onwards to Mürren. The first part brings us into the mountain forest with a few clearings in which we can see Jungfraujoch. The shade is provided by the trees but since we are walking on gravel, depending on your fitness levels, this part poses a slight challenge to those with less than stellar health.
“I don’t think we can carry on.” The parents were huffing and puffing. All the while looking at other older Swiss walking faster than them.
“Don’t worry. I have a backup plan.”
For those who can’t really keep it up, just make sure you reach Winteregg. There’s a train station there. You know what I mean. Haha! Cheat and hop onto the train.
At Winteregg, besides making the decision to take the train, you need to make a decision to either take the road on the left or on the right towards Mürren. The better option would be the one on the left, which will take you alongside the train tracks.
This whole area is famous for its milk. Must be because of the nice views, the greenery and the nice weather, the cows here must be the luckiest animals alive. Well, as long as they could still provide milk that is. The houses that you see here are also decorated with cowbells. For luck, I think.
We managed to do the hike in under an hour and a half. My personal opinion. Take the hike from Grütschalp to Winteregg and from then on, take the train to Mürren. Giving you more time to spend at Mürren.
Tip: Take the hike from Grütschalp to Winteregg, then take the train to Mürren.
Mürren is also another small town, catering to the tourist trade. It was here that we finally saw something famous, the Edelweiss.
(to be continued)