As the train left its station in Geneva, I thought, “four train exchanges to get to Wengen…I hope it’s worth it!” We were leaving for the Bernese Oberland region after having spent a couple of days in Geneva, catching up with an old friend and exploring the city. I was excited to see the Swiss Alps after Marc had confidently reassured me that I would love it. And he was right! Snow-capped mountains, majestic waterfalls, beautiful hikes and food-coma-inducing-fondues. I loved it all! Well…I didn’t love how expensive everything was, but more on that later.
During the train ride to Wengen, I don’t remember how many Wow’s came out of my mouth. I never took my eyes off the windows, taking in the cute quaint villages and clusters of farm animals sunbathing in stretches of green meadows as far as the eye can see. As the train approached Interlaken, the track slowly inched closer and closer to the lakes until we were merely a couple of meters from the water. The view of the various villages reflecting in the sparkling waters was picture perfect.
My favourite part of the ride was going from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen on a cogwheel train. The road approaching Wengen was quite steep and with the train windows fully open, all our senses came to life. The landscape changed and the temperature dipped as the train ascended higher and higher, passing numerous mini-waterfalls within arms reach and exposing gorgeous valleys and model-sized towns far below.
Arriving at Wengen felt like arriving at a wellness retreat. The air smelled cool and fresh at 1,200 meters above sea level. We were surrounded by the sound of waterfalls (over 70 of them in the area!) and birds chirping with snow-capped mountain peaks as backdrops. Maybe this is what heaven feels like…
Bernese Oberland is a popular ski destination in the winter and hike-lovers heaven in the summer. I’ve never been a keen hiker but that changed in Switzerland. The most challenging hike we did (2.5 hours, 1276-2066m elevation) was the Wengen-Wengernalp-Kleine Scheidegg trail, involving (way too many) steep ascends. The last part of the trail was especially breathtaking as we hiked parallel to the famous Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains. From Kleine Scheidegg, you can take a train to Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in Europe sitting at over 3,400 meters above sea level. We decided to skip it due to the clouds that day, apparently you won’t be able to see a thing if it’s not a clear day. Instead, we hiked back thinking it would be easy going downhill. We were wrong.
All the hikes were gorgeous. I never got tired of looking at those magnificent mountains – they are one of the few things that make me feel so alive yet so small at the same time.
But it’s not all about the mountains. I was obsessed with the cows (haha). They seem to rule the land, wearing their mighty-sized cowbells that can be heard from miles away. Oh, they are pretty snobby too, you’re lucky if they throw you a glance! I never imagined that I would love the sound of cowbells; add in some soothing waterfalls and you have yourself a relaxing alpine chill-out mix. Some spots seriously made me feel like we were in a fairytale story.
There were of course other moments that added to our hiking experience, such as discovering meadows carpeted with alpine flowers, waving at the passing trains (where passengers waved back) and Marc stopping very often to help little friends cross the road. The hikes were exhausting but worth every muscle ache the next day.
We did multiple hikes a day, rain or shine. I’m usually the traveler that obsesses over the weather but I ended up enjoying the hike under the rain even more. Here are some photos of our hike to Lauterbrunnen, Mürren and Gimmelwald in the rain. The fog made everything look so mysterious…
Mmm…Cheese…Although I’ve had fondue before, visiting Switzerland and not having fondue would just seem wrong! So I ordered one during one of our hiking stops, I was surprised to find that the authentic version contained white wine and brandy! Apparently they are for flavouring and digestion (so they say… 😉 )
Ok, now for the painful part. Switzerland is infamous for being expensive, so we were mentally prepared. But I STILL heard shrieks from our wallets every time the bill came! We ‘splurged’ on food (read: ordered reasonable meals) but stuck to a LOT of chocolates for snacks. My justification: I wanted to taste the chocolates at different price points to see if there’s a difference…alright alright, I pigged out cuz they were yummy swiss chocolate (*oink*). Speaking of chocolate, we also tried chocolate fondue. It was messy but a lot of fun!
Annnd on that note, I’m going to make lunch now…
Thanks for reading et à la prochaine!