Day 22 - 5/6/19 – Montreux to Wengen
Another warm day. Checked out after breakfast, and took the 11.44am train. Lots of fields seem to be fodder for cows, with harvesting underway, and some hay baled up for winter feed. Churches everywhere, even in tiny villages. Saw an old castle and church complex at Rougemont. Gorgeous views at Gstaad, a couple of snowy mountain areas above impossibly green rolling hills. Changed trains at Zweisimmen. Had our picnic on the train. The terrain turned quite flat in a wide valley after Wimmis, with some big snowy mountains to the right, with peaks covered in cloud, the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau. The train travelled next to Lake Thun. Changed trains again at Interlaken Ost (east), and again at Lauterbrunnen. Gorgeous views of the valley with snowy mountains at the end as we entered Lauterbrunnen. Arrived at Wengen ~4pm. Walked down to our hotel, the Edelweiss, sitting in a gorgeous spot looking out across to the Lauterbrunnen valley and the mountains. Checked in to our room, on the corner with a little balcony, with amazing views. Had two windows and a door opening out to the balcony, all with views of the snowy mountains, and straight over to the Staubbachfall, which had a light shining on it at night time until ~11pm. Tea and coffee facilities, books, and games are available in a communal lounge area downstairs, also had another communal room with tables and chairs, a piano and guitar. Had a cuppa on the back garden terrace after settling in, and had a chat to another couple staying. Didn’t end up going out for dinner, just had some cheese and crackers. A four course set dinner is available in the hotel every night for 25 CHF each, the staff bring the menu for that night around at breakfast, and you just let them know if you’ll be eating in that night. Daniel, the hotel owner, and Thomas on reception, are lovely.
Day 23 - 6/6/19 – Wengen
The TV in our room showed the weather webcams for the surrounding mountains so you can see what the cloud cover and temperatures are like in real time before you decide on the day’s excursions. Saw a couple of cows being herded through the street outside the hotel, cowbells ringing, and another lot later as well. Weather cloudy and a bit wet so decided to go to Lauterbrunnen. Took the train down, and walked through the town to Staubbachfall, which drops 297m, beautiful. Couldn’t walk up to and behind the falls as the path was closed due to a rock fall. The Lauterbrunnen valley has 72 waterfalls along it. Walked along the valley floor, gorgeous scenery, cows, farmhouses, more waterfalls, and lots of wildflowers. Came across a vending machine on the path selling cheese, wine, and sausages! Walked over to Trummelbachfalle, a series of ten cascades inside the mountain accessed by a tunnel system – no discount with our Swiss Travel Pass, cost 11 CHF each. The falls drain the glaciers of the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau. Took the lift up to cascade 7, and walked through the cave system to cascade 10. It was amazing – you can see all the sections where the falls have travelled previously over the years as well as the current route. The noise of the rushing water was thunderous. Walked back down through the tunnel, stopping at the viewing area at each cascade. Took the bus back to Lauterbrunnen train station, trained to Interlaken Ost, then changed for Interlaken West, and walked over to the boat ramp just behind the station to do a boat trip on Lake Thun. The water in the lake is a beautiful turquoise colour. Took the 4.10pm boat to the town of Thun, arriving at 6.20pm, criss-crossing the lake a couple of times, and stopping at ~11 villages on the way. The town of Spiez looked lovely from the water. Really interesting shoreline in places, big outcrops/hills right down to the waterline. The lake is ringed by snowy mountains, though it was really cloudy. Passed a lovely castle on the lakefront. Wandered around Thun for a while after stopping for dinner at Sevens restaurant. The Aare river runs through the town, with a couple of old covered bridges with flowerboxes on the sides, and on the railings of the fences on the river. Inside the bridges are mechanisms to open and drop the floodgates under the bridge. Thun castle stands on a hill above the old town, didn’t make it over for a closer look, but could see the turrets from town. Walked over to the station – there was a public piano on the platform and a couple of young kids waiting for the train with their parents started playing and they were great. Took the 7.54pm back to Interlaken Ost, Lauterbrunnen, then Wengen, arriving at 9.19pm. It was now quite clear over the mountains and the valley, with lovely late evening views from the train. The views of the Lauterbrunnen valley must be one of the most beautiful in the world. The rocky mountain wall behind Wengen was glowing reddish-brown on sunset. The sun sets late, there was still some light at 9.30pm.
Day 24 - 7/6/19 – Wengen
There were a couple of cows being herded through the street again, cowbells ringing. Weather looking OK today. Took the train down to Lauterbrunnen, and the cable car up to Grutschalp, covered by the STP. Walked to Murren, a nice little town, 4.1km along the ridge. Great views to the other side of the valley wall to Wengen, and of the mountains, the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau as always, and down into the Lauterbrunnen valley as well. Passed a few waterfalls. Went to the cable car station to go up to Schilthorn, but they closed it just as we reached the counter, due to high winds. Decided not to wait in case the wind didn’t abate, so walked down to Gimmelwald, having a picnic on a seat on the way, again gorgeous views. There were some information boards along the road about snow bridges (avalanche barriers), 3-leg mountings (snow slide barriers), and avalanche barrier forests. Took the cable car down to Stechelberg from Gimmelwald, covered by the STP. Took the bus back to Lauterbrunnen, and train back up to Wengen. Decided to stay in for dinner tonight and it was lovely.
Day 25 - 8/6/19 – Wengen
Weather was cloudy, but decided to go up to Schilthorn anyway. Took the train down to Lauterbrunnen, and a bus to the cable car station at Stechelberg – the trip up to Schilthorn and back all covered with our STP. There was a big crowd waiting in line to go up. The first cable car goes to Gimmelwald, another to Murren, another to Birg, and another to Schilthorn, at 2970m. Great views on the way up. The James Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, with the Aussie George Lazenby as 007, was filmed at Schilthorn. It was really cloudy, so the views from the viewing platform were not that great. There was a cardboard cut-out of 007 on the platform, and numerous other references to the movie - even the toilet doors had Bond silhouettes, the ladies of a curvaceous girl labelled "Bondgirls", and the men had 007, labelled "Bonds". Went into the cinema to watch the movie scenes filmed here, and checked out the museum with info about the movie – it had a replica helicopter cockpit we sat in and pretended to fly to the top of Schilthorn, with info spots on the way corresponding to movie scenes. Back out on the terrace it was still cloudy, so we decided to go down to Birg. The clouds were moving in and out there, so we got great views of the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau from the viewing platform. Went down on the Thrill Walk, a man-made path made of wire, steel, and mesh, hanging off the vertical rock cliff wall – I got half way and went back up as I got scared! Had our picnic on the terrace, and went back down to Stechelberg. Walked over to the Murrenbach waterfall, just as impressive as the Staubbachfalle. Took the bus back to Lauterbrunnen, train back to Wengen, and had a wander about town checking out the shops and restaurants. Had a cuppa on the garden terrace out the back of the hotel, chatting to two young American guys who climbed the Monch today. Had dinner at the Golden India restaurant in town. While making a cuppa back at the hotel, I got chatting to an Indian girl who was living and working in Amsterdam – I remarked that I wondered why there were so many Indian tourists here when they have the Himalayas which are up to three times higher than the Swiss Alps, she said the Indian tourists come to Switzerland to see where a lot of Bollywood movies were made, a lot were filmed at Mt. Titlis.
Day 26 - 9/6/19 – Wengen
Weather was very cloudy, and most webcams of the surrounding mountains were showing cloud, with the weather looking like it would get worse. Discussing whether to go up to Jungfraujoch- the peak of Jungfrau, at 4158m, has been in cloud since we got here – tickets up are 150 CHF each with the 25% STP discount = ~$218 AUD each, I’d seen a comment by a lady on 6/6/19 saying that the crowds were outrageous and she’d waited for two hours to get on the train up as reserved ticket holders were given priority. Hubby didn’t want to go, I’d thought it un-missable, but after all the above, and that we’d been to Gornergrat, Klein Matterhorn, and Diavolezza, we decided not to go. Thomas on reception agreed, and suggested we go up to Klein Scheidegg and hike back down to Wengen instead. So we walked up to the station and took the train to Klein Scheidegg, a 25% discount with our STP, cost 18 CHF each, about a 30 minute trip up. The windows could be opened, so I hung out the window most of the way. Had a bit of a look around, and started the walk at 9.20am, took about 3 hours, 6.7km down, with a descent of 2600ft. The sign said it takes one hour 35 minutes! Amazing views, felt so close to the mountains, and it was so quiet, only passed a few others on the trail, especially at the beginning. Started raining a bit. Could see over to Murren and Gimmelwald. Some parts of the trail still had lots of snow on the side. The trail started to go through a forested area, then comes out to fields with grazing cows. Heard cuckoo birds calling. Gorgeous flowers in some gardens, and some wood piles are decorated – saw some with flower planters inside the pile, and one with a cowbell. Home for a rest and a sandwich lunch. Booked the sauna in the hotel for an hour - lovely ambience, jazz on the radio playing, pictures of candles and frangipanis on the walls – felt like a day spa! Had dinner in tonight – again, really nice.
Day 27 - 10/6/19 – Wengen
Weather was crappy, cloudy, and all webcams were showing cloud. Decided to train to Brienz - Wengen to Lauterbrunnen to Interlaken Ost to Brienz. Lovely trip along Lake Brienz. Pretty quiet as it was a public holiday. Went to the Tourist Office and the girl said due to the weather don’t worry about either Brienzer Rothorn or Gelmerbahn, as it had just started raining as well. Had a look in a woodworking shop - Brienz is noted for it’s woodworking. Walked along the lakefront, and had our picnic in the shelter of a church. Walked through the old town back to the station. Decided to go to Bern for a look, so took the train back to Interlaken Ost. Bern is the de-facto capital of Switzerland - as the constitution does not mention a Swiss capital there is no ‘official’ capital, so Bern is referred to as the federal city. Bern train station is massive, a big shopping centre in it, and people everywhere. Walked over to the Old Town, beautiful, with flags all along the street. It was raining, but the walkways at the sides of the streets are covered. It looked like there’s some underground shops with stairs going down from the street. Ornate sculptured old water fountains in the streets, one of them has a man eating babies and children! There’s a beautiful ornate clock tower over an arch at the entrance to the Old Town main street, which is all cobblestone. Checked out the Parliament building, and the Swiss National Bank building in a square – beautiful, with statues at the front. Walked back to the station where we had dinner. Took the 7.34pm train back to Interlaken Ost, changed for Lauterbrunnen, and then changed for Wengen, arriving at 9.19pm. Trains still run up to Wengen ‘til 12.40am.
Day 28 - 11/6/19 – Wengen
Weather was still cloudy, but we decided to go up to Mannlichen anyway. The cable car from Wengen was discounted 50% with our STP, cost 11.50 CHF each return. For an extra 5 CHF you can ride open-air in the top of the car, but it was so cloudy we didn’t. We couldn’t see a thing on the way up, totally in cloud. Hardly any tourists up there. At the top we walked up to the viewing platform – it’s called The Royal Walk, as the mountains are all around you in a circle like a crown. It was really cloudy, but the clouds were coming in and out and swirling around. Massive black clouds were coming in from the west, all making it really wild. Even though we couldn’t see expansive clear views, we loved it, and it was one of our favourite days – was really eerie and wild, and loved that not many people were up there. Lots of snow about on the sides of the path up to the top viewpoint, and the last bit to the top had a rope handrail. Stayed at the top for a while, and halfway down on a seat, we didn’t want to leave. A massive clap of thunder came, then reverberated around the mountains for ages, maybe three minutes - it was the loudest thing we’d ever heard. Walked down to the restaurant for a hot chocolate. The storm and rain came in so we went back to the cable car station and back down to Wengen, and had our picnic on the seats in the park near the station, then back to the hotel. Hubby went for a walk over to the edge of town towards the valley, while I sat in the common room and wrote postcards, and updated my diary. Had dinner in tonight, lovely meal again.
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