We had left ourselves a free day in Lauterbrunnen to see things in the area that caught our eye. First up was a Swiss culture festival that was being held up a nearby mountain.
We caught the usual assortment of trains and cable cars and arrived at Männlichen on a bright and sunny morning.
It turns out that there’s nothing but a hotel, playground and viewing point at the top, plus a herd of cows with bells to make it all one hundred percent Swiss. You could hear everyone stepping out of the cable car station making ‘oooh’ noises because the scene was just so pretty.
Wildflowers everywhere, snow-capped mountains all around and Grindelwald visible down the valley in the distance. We took some photos and had a wander then made our way to the hotel, where all kind of Swiss things were happening on the deck.
We watched for a while and took some photos but it was all pretty similar to the music we’d seen in the last two days so we headed to our next activity, a cog-wheel train to Schynnige Platt. Even though this train had been on the map as an activity, it had looked pretty short and so we expected it to go to a low plateau where the Alpine Botanical Garden was reputed to be.
It turned out to be probably the most scenic ride we took in our whole time there! The sides of the little train were open, which meant it was much better for taking photos and videos (no reflection) and it took about forty minutes to get to the top.
There was not a whole lot there but we had a quick look at the Alpine Garden and then sat and had some lunch at the hotel. It was a perfect day with amazing visibility and pleasantly cool at that altitude.
If you go up Schynige Platt go to the top level of the hotel restaurant.
We had thought about trying to make it to Trümmelbach Falls afterwards but ran out of time so Luke visited them the next morning before we left while I packed my bag.
View from the Schynige Platt railway
We were very sad to leave the Bernese Oberland. By far our favorite place that we’d visited so far and it had raised a very high (unfairly high, some would say) bar for Geneva to reach. I don’t often go to countries and think that I would happily move there but Switzerland makes the list. One day we’ll come back and see it in a different season and visit more of its cities. One day!
One of the biggest tourist draws in this region is the complex at the saddle of the Jungfrau (young girl) and Monsch (monk) mountains. The buildings are reached by train from Kleine Scheidigg, a village high up in the Bernese Oberland. Another train is required from Lauterbrunnen to get to Kleine Scheidegg.
We rose at 6:15 to catch the first train, which left Lauterbrunnen at 7:07.
The train was almost full and it was the first one of the day! Mostly families and older people – I dare say not many young adults want to shell out the 200+ Swiss Francs that it costs to get here. With our Bernese Oberland Pass we rode free to Kleine Scheidegg and then 99CHF for the last section. Even at half price that’s 134 AUD. Steep in every sense of the word.
The train from Lauterbrunnen to Kleine Scheidegg was extremely scenic with little Swiss cottages and cows dotting the alpine scenery.
There was a bit of a mad rush to change trains and then the second section of the journey was almost entirely through a tunnel.
There is one stop before the top where viewing windows have been cut out and you can get off and look at the view for five minutes.
The Jungfraujoch station is underground and from there you can enjoy a range of thrilling attractions including a huge snow globe.
This sits in a tunnel lit with edelweiss flowers.
Weird but cute. There’s also some wooden statues in this long hall.
Then a ramp with a moving walkway that takes you past historical scenes and tributes to the workers who died during the construction of the tunnel. The whole thing was the brainchild of a Swiss millionaire who made his money on trains and wanted to achieve a great engineering feat.
There is a snow-carving gallery within the Aletsch glacier. It’s not very big but it is cute.
There are also several restaurants on different levels. We went to the cheapest and got hot chocolate in a paper cup for $10. Crikey!
The main reason for going to Jungfraujoch is undoubtedly the view so we’d been crossing our fingers all week as storms had been predicted and so far we’d only seen one shower.
Fortunately our luck held and the views were spectacular.
We’d taken warm clothes but I wish we’d had gloves. Still, we survived without and enjoyed ourselves. There is a section where you can walk out on the snow and even go for a hike but we weren’t prepared for that.
The viewing platform sits at 3571 metres above sea level, the highest either of us has ever been while still standing on the ground. Luke had a few moments of lightheadedness and I felt a little tingle in my legs but otherwise we were fine.
Last stop was a look through the world’s highest Lindt store. As we still have piles of chocolate from the class we did there was no need to buy anything.
We only stayed for an hour and a half but it was a spectacular 90 minutes and we were glad we went.
Back down to Kleine Scheidegg where we hopped aboard a train to Grindelwald, a town Rick Steves describes as tiny but which has grown hugely since he first visited.
The cog-wheel journey to Grindelwald is stunning.
The town of Grindelwald sits, as Lauterbrunnen does, in the shadow of large peaks, in this case the Eiger.
We hadn’t eaten much so we wandered up the main street to find some lunch. Everything looked expensive but we settled on a restaurant that did a cheap (ish) sandwich for 7CHF. But what sandwiches!
Also Luke kindly let me eat all his pickled onions and gherkins. What a gentleman!
Tired of hauling backpacks full of clothes around, we decided to head back to Lauterbrunnen and ended up having a nap, but not before seeing a noticeboard advertisement for some traditional folk entertainment at the local campsite. That was our evening sorted!
We wandered down to the campsite at about 6pm, keen to get a seat at the campsite restaurant as it had excellent reviews online.
We both ordered the small size of our chosen dishes.
Mac and cheese with potatoes, ham and a side of apple sauce.
We could’ve both survived off Luke’s plate for days.
We walked around the campsite for half an hour to aid our digestion and to ensure we didn’t fall into some sort of food coma, then it was time to grab a seat for the evening’s entertainment.
The choir sounded like the music from the Wes Anderson film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. One of our favourites!
All in all an outstanding day – hopefully the weather holds for our trip up Schilthorn tomorrow!