“The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir
After a long day hiking around the castles with full sun overhead in Füssen, a power nap was most certainly in store for this bus ride.
Lauterbrunnen at a Glance:
Location: Central Switzerland (Slightly Towards the Southwest Corner)
What It's Known For:
Gorgeous Valley Surrounded by the Swiss Alps
As the bus passed the town of Interlaken and made a turn up into the valley, my jaw dropped.
Lush green meadows covered the valley floor, while vertical rock faces with periodic and steady waterfalls lined the two sides. The snow capped Swiss Alps overlook, setting an unreal scene.
After dropping my bags off at the hotel, I grabbed a local map and headed straight down the valley. There wasn't a chance I was going to waste these few last hours of daylight. I passed multiple waterfalls and farmers before arriving at the famed Trümmelbach Falls. Unfortunately they were closed for the day by the time I arrived, but at least I had gotten my bearings straight with the map and local features.
Arriving back in town, I re-grouped with some of the other tour members and grabbed a well deserved dinner at the local Horner Restaurant. Little did we know, this is also the local watering hole for all of the basejumpers. Our hotel, Hotel Oberland, also has a restaurant attached to the front, with excellent food. Make sure you call ahead for reservations if you want to get a seat there though!
Day 2 in Lauterbrunnen:
Feeling the excitement of heading up into the Swiss alps, I woke up well before my alarm for the first morning in Lauterbrunnen. After getting ready, I slipped down to the hotel lobby, where they had live view cameras of the weather conditions atop the Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch (the two high peaks which can be reached by gondola or train). Seeing a clear sky atop the Schilthorn (and knowing how fast mountain weather can turn), I made my way down to the bus station.
I caught the first bus of the morning down to the end of the valley, where the gondola is stationed, to reach the Schilthorn. After purchasing a ticket, I made my way aboard. The ride would actually consist of a series of gondola rides, stopping at small alpine towns along the way, since the Schilthorn peak is so high.
About three quarters of the way up the first gondola ride, I saw the landscape start to change from green to white and thought it would be a good photo opportunity. I pulled out my camera and snapped this photo (above). One fellow turned around and asked me, "Do you work here"? I was caught slightly off guard by that question but replied with a soft "no". It just so happened that the gondola I stepped onto was only for the workers who take care of the guests at the peak. Oops! "It's fine", he says, "just follow me".
After reaching the top, the worker brought me through the James Bond themed restaurant (in 1969, 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' was filmed here) and out to the walkway, where I was free to explore and snap some photos. The weather was perfect and I had the entire peak to myself!
Heading back into the restaurant after taking a few pictures, I sat down in a seat near the windows for some breakfast. Within a few moments, I realized that the entire restaurant was rotating. I ended up relaxing and eating with a 360 degree view of the Swiss Alps. Pinch me...
Riding the gondola back down, I stopped at Birg to take a walk on the "thrill walk". The "thrill walk" is a grated and glass walkway that hangs off the side of the mountain with nothing but air underneath.
Don't worry, I won't!!
Activities Post Lunch:
After lunch, I still had the whole afternoon ahead of me - I was making great time and decided to head back over to Trümmelbach Falls. Before seeing (and feeling) the falls, I was thinking to myself, "what could be so special about these falls?". I've seen tons of waterfalls over my lifetime. But I was wrong, and these falls lived up to their hype. I think these falls are the most powerful force of nature I have ever experienced. Make sure to bring a rain jacket with some base layers, as the mist will be sure to get you a little wet!
To cap off the day before rejoining some of the group for dinner, I caught a train down to the town of Interlaken - to see the two lakes.
Day 3 in Lauterbrunnen:
From the gondola ride on the previous day, I was able to spot several trails up on the mountainside that looked rideable by bike. The local bike shop, next to our hotel (how convenient!), hooked me up with a sweet full suspension mountain bike for the day. I rode out of town and took a gondola up to the first alpine town. From here I found the trailhead and set out. Not seeing another person for miles, I had the entire mountainside to myself!