Switzerland 2012

Background


If you'd rather, feel free to just click through to the trip photos, there are a lot more photos there than you see here.

Kekoa & I visited Switzerland for 2 weeks June/July of 2012. Our trip was supposedly a hiking trip in the alps (Bernese Alps), due to some bad weather days, the last part of the trip we spent traveling to the Italian part of Switzerland, eating lots of food and doing generally more city-touristy stuff.

If you like this trip report, you can also see the rest of our trip reports here.

Grindelwald / Rosenlaui

View from Grindelwald Hotel
The first thing we did once we got to Switzerland was buy a half price card and tickets to Grindelwald. The other thing we discovered was these sandwiches called bretzel. Essentially it is a pretzel cut in half (like a sandwich), and then it's buttered on both sides, plus there's fatty ham in the middle. You can't really go wrong, since it's salty and fatty. We ended up eating lots of these during this trip.

We didn't do much our first day, we picked up hiking maps, tried to stay awake, walked around Grindelwald, bought some Zweifel Paprika (Kekoa's favorite chips from Switzerland), and got Kekoa his first meal of schnitzel.

The next day, since the weather was good, we decided to hit up Jungfraujoch. Tickets cost about half an arm and leg, and we had to fight with lots of tourists to get on the train. The train ride up was very pretty, and honestly quite amazing. I have no idea how they managed to build this train up to this peak.
Jungfraujoch Station
There is a lot to do on top of the Station. We did this hike outside at 13000ft, and it felt like I was standing still, altitude makes me soooo slow. There was this ice sculpture room that had a lot of cool ice sculptures. There were bears, penguins, and lots of other cute animals.

View of glacier from Jungfraujoch
We spent about 2 hours at the top of the station, after that we took the train down to Eigergletscher, hiked from there to Alpigen, then back down to Grindelwald. The hike is named Eiger Trail, as you hike along the bottom of the Eiger. We had fun spotting the climbers (crazies :P) climbing Eiger, and also navigating the snowy / icy trail. The hardest part of this hike was that it basically involved ~4000ft of downhill, and let's just say our knees weren't too happy afterward.

The next day we woke up and the weather was not the best, we took the morning to check out the Gletscherschlucht in Grindelwald. This was a good bad weather day activity, with lots of water flowing thru the chute, but not as spectacular as the views of the alps.

After checking out the chute, we caught the postbus over to Rosenlaui, and heard the infamous "honk" of the bus many times. The weather at Rosenlaui wasn't ideal, it was drizzling most of the day. We checked in, dropped our stuff off, and went to walk around. Mostly we took pictures of lots of cows. I got tempted by the stand that sold alpine cheese, but I didn't really want to eat it all by myself.
Rosenlaui Cow
We also met up with Tracy, who had a even worse time getting to Europe (delayed flights, lost luggage, ...), but at least she was here! The best part of Rosenlaui is always dinner. We had a great meal, then fell asleep in the most comfy comfy bed.

Weather the next day was also bad. We walked about a quarter mile to the bus stop and we were soaked. Piaw, XQ, Tracy, Kekoa, and I all went down to Meiringen hoping to have Lammi sausages, but it turned out they're now closed on Tuesdays (in addition to Mondays) :(, so no sausages for us. After buying a bunch of stuff for baby Bowen, we went to the tourist information to research the weather and also check for train schedules. Turns out the weather was going to be good the next day, so I planned a mega hiking day.
Giant Cowbells
Once again, we were treated to a great dinner at Rosenlaui. There was also a concert, which had yodeling!! It was awesome to watch, yodeling is badass.

Murren

Hiking from Rosenlaui to Murren was awesome. We had really great views. We took the postbus from Rosenlaui to the top of Grosse Scheidegg. Then we hiked over to First and Bachalpsee, and from there down to Waldspitz and finally Bort. From there we hopped on the cable car to see great views.

At the end of our cable car ride, we realized we had just a few minutes to catch the train to Murren, so we ran with all our stuff (we carried our backpacks the whole day) to get to the train station just moments before the train left. Luckily the conductor let us buy our tickets on board!
View hiking to Waldspitz
View hiking to Waldspitz
View hiking to Waldspitz
We had a great day hiking, even though we were hiking with all our gear. It was a heavy, slow day. After we got to Murren, finding Chalet Bob's was quite the challenge. I ended up having to ask more than one person where it was, and we walked up and down a lot of stairs to find it.

Once again on the next day, we had great weather. So we decided to hike up to Brig, which is on the way to Schilthorn. We would have hiked all the way up to Schilthorn, but the trail was closed (dangerous and still icy, though Tracy did hike up part of it -- I think she's crazy :)).

The hike up to Brig is steep. Actually just the hike from Murren to Allmendhubel was quite tough for me. We stopped in Allmendhubel to refuel by by drinking coke, the sugar and caffeine pretty much fueled me for the rest of the day. The hike is essentially a hike up these ski trails. Kekoa and I decided that we weren't going to turn around since it would mean hiking downhill on some super steep stuff, and we didn't want to irritate our knees.
Hiking on ski trails to Brig
After we took the cable car up to the top of Schilthorn, we saw a bunch of paragliders taking off. They were joking on the cable car that they were taking a "one way ticket" up to the top. It was pretty awesome to watch, I think we literally spent over an hour watching the take offs and the failed take offs. This made me really want to try paragliding, though I'm guessing it is pretty dangerous.

Paragliders atop of Schilthorn


The next day we hiked to Griesalp on the flower trail, then took the Mountain View trail back to Allmendhubel. The Mountain View trail had some stunning views. After that we hiked on the North Face trail back to Murren. It was a really really hot day, and I managed to get a sunburn on my arm pits! We also got to watch Albert from Chalet Bobs play the alpine horn, it was pretty cool.
Albert from Chalet Bobs
Flower / Mountain View Trail
We loved Murren, and Chalet Bobs was great -- great price, great location (if you can find it). The hiking in Murren was really pretty too, with great challenging trails if you want them, or easier flatter stuff if that's what you want instead.

Wengen / Kandersteg

View from Hotel Baren.
We were really sad to leave Murren, yet our hotel in Wengen was also awesome. Hotel Baren was also a half board hotel (like Rosenlaui), and the food was spectacular. (Photos here.) After we got to Wengen, we decided to hike up to Mannlichen. We stopped by the tourist information center to ask for information, and the first thing the guy said to us was "I wouldn't hike up there, too hot, too steep"; which of course to us sounded like an invitation to hike up there!
Hike to Mannlichen from Wengen, we hiked all the way up from the base where this picture was taken to the top of the avalanche guards at the ridge of mountain.
Top of Manlichen (hazy)
The hike to Manlichen was quite brutal, first it was really really hot, and second, it was really steep. You are hiking through all the avalanche guards, and there really was no good place to rest. Plus I felt like I was going to fall often, since it was so steep :P The top of Manlichen was a bit hazy, and from there we hiked the panorama-weg back to Kleine Scheidegg (also spectacular), then took a super expensive train back to Wengen (12 CHF pp after half price card, wtf).

The next day at Wengen was a rainy day, so we took a rest day. We rode the train to Lauterbrunnen, walked to Staubbach falls, then visited Trummelbach Falls, where there was a crap ton of water. I wouldn't recommend walking to Staubbach falls, it wasn't really worth it. Trummelbach falls on the other hand was great, especially on a rainy day. There were lots of glacier waterfalls there.
Trummelbach Falls


Kekoa and I did a bit of comparing of Yosemite valley and Lauterbrunnen while we were walking along the valley. He claims there are more impressive falls in Yosemite valley compared to Lauterbrunnen. I like how it's greener in Switzerland, but I do agree that El Cap and Yosemite Falls are both quite impressive.

Since Hotel Baren wasn't serving dinner on Sunday, we walked around town and ended up at a place that served fondue for 1! (Kekoa had more schnitzel...)
Fondue for One!
The weather was super crappy when we woke up. We flipped a coin and decided to checkout Kandersteg (small town in the Alps). Once we found a hotel in Kandersteg, we got stir crazy and decided to hike up to a lake above the town called Oeschinensee. Since it was all cloud covered, we couldn't see much on the hike up, but the lake itself looked like it would be really pretty on a sunny day, since supposedly it has snow capped mountains all around it. We didn't see any of that, just clouds :) But now we have a reason to come back -- the views really are supposed to be quite pretty. Next time though the plan is to just hike from Murren to Kandersteg, instead of taking the train.
Foggy Kandersteg

Locarno / Luzern

Since the weather didn't look like it was going to get any better. We decided to escape to the Italian (hot weather) part of Switzerland, and ended up in Locarno. Here we walked around a lot, ate lots of gelato, ate lardo pizza twice (!!), drank lots of wine, bought shorts, ate really good pasta. It was pretty awesome.
Lake Locarno
Lardo Pizza (soooo yum)
Yummy Carbonara
After 2 days of hanging out in Locarno, we decided to check out Luzern (weather still wasn't great). In Luzern we checked out the transportation museum and also hiked around the towers that used to protect the city. The transportation museum was super cool, we got to saw a real tank, Kekoa flew a flight simulator that would turn upside down, and we also flew in a helicopter simulator. We also got to sit in a simulated car crash at 10MPH and played with hot air balloons, it was awesome.
Cool building @ Transportation Museum
Tank! (largest road legal vehicle in Switzerland)
Luzern view from towers

Zurich

We spent our last in Zurich, walking around, shopping, and eating. Zurich has this really cool toy store that we spent quite a bit of time at, trying to decide what to buy (and we ended up getting nothing since we couldn't decide). We did buy a bunch of maps from the map store, after getting very lost trying to get to it. We then ate dinner at this place a guest from the hotel recommended that had really good cordon bleu. It was good, but it was also giant.
Giant Cordon Bleu (note how small Kekoa's plate looks -- his is a normal dinner plate)


All in all, this was a great trip, we did a lot of different things, and had a lot of fun. The train system in Switzerland is great, it pretty much allowed us to go wherever we wanted whenever we wanted. The last half of the trip we didn't have any lodging reservations, which turned out to be great, since it allowed us to go to random places we weren't planning on visiting. Most of the time we'd go to the tourist information center for help, but sometimes we'd just wander around until something looked good.

Things I wouldn't forget to bring next time:
- more than one pair of hiking pants (maybe capris or convertible ones)
- rain pants
- shorts
- lighter rain jacket
- small light binoculars
- stuffed animal

The End. :)

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