Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Up in the Swiss Alps - Our Weekend of Waterfalls!

Good friends and good times in the Berner-Oberland!

Lauterbrunnen Valley - A picture-perfect area in Switzerland

Chalet Brunner in Wengen

Checkin' out our new home for the weekend

Last Friday evening, Mark and I and our visitors, Jen and Dan took a three hour train ride from Lausanne to Wengen, a mountain town in the Swiss Alps. We rented a chalet apartment for two nights, and planned to do some hiking, more mountain-training to check out the views and for Jen, para-gliding! Unfortunately, our "to-do" list was rudely interrupted by Mother Nature, who dropped in some major cloud cover over the Berner-Oberland over the weekend! We arrived late on Friday evening, going to bed hoping for clear skies on Saturday!

Heading into town

Jen researching our "waterfall hike" route

Staubbach Falls

View over Lauterbrunnen

Lots and lots of waterfalls on this hike!

Beautiful Swiss landscape

We awoke Saturday morning to low visibility, so while keeping our fingers crossed that it might clear up later in the afternoon, we headed to Wengen's main street to do some grocery shopping. We picked up food for lunch and dinner that night and then went back to the apartment to unload and check out the status of the mountain tops via the live online and TV webcams! To no avail, we were out of luck that day as the webcams showed us only a wall of grey!

We decided to take the 15 minute train ride down to Lauterbrunnen and go on our "waterfall" hike in the valley, which boasts an impressive 72 waterfalls! We reached Lauterbrunnen, and grabbing a map of the trail, started walking towards Stechelberg. At the end of Lauterbrunnen's main street, Staubbach Falls starts off your waterfall viewing pleasure. From there, you can only start the tally as you pass waterfalls on both sides of you! Some are small, just a trickle of water flowing and others are jaw-droppingly huge, cascading over the side of the mountain.

Trummelbach Falls - 10 waterfalls inside the mountain

Just before the end of the trail, we reached Trümmelbach Waterfalls. This is a very unique attraction, as it has 10 waterfalls flowing inside the mountain, accessible by stairs and elevator. Once inside, you are standing next to massive flows of water, which come from the glacial walls of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains. It is an amazing sight and it gives you a strange feeling to be so close to that much water can feel the energy of the water if you touch the rock walls! Definitely worth the walk (or bus ride if you are so inclined) and the entrance fee!

Aerial cable-car up to Gimmelwald

Sleepy mountain town of Gimmelwald

So Swiss!

After viewing the falls, we continued on to the end of the walk and purchased a ticket to ride the cable car up the mountain to Gimmelwald. Gimmelwald is a tiny mountain town, but it totes some absolutely beautiful views of the waterfalls from up-above. Although not much in the way of city life exists here, it is here that you will experience the "real" Swiss beauty of the countryside. Mark and I decided to head back down with the next cable car and take the bus back to the Lauterbrunnen train station while Jen and Dan decided to hike back down with our new friend Dave, another American who we met earlier in the day on our waterfall walk. Tired and hungry, Mark and I were thankful for the snack shack at the bus station while waiting for the next bus back to Lauterbrunnen! After our ride back up the mountain to Wengen, we reached home and prepared dinner. Jen and Dan joined us soon after and we spent the rest of the evening resting our weary feet and watching the US v. England World Cup soccer match! Once again, we went to bed with fingers crossed in hopes of better weather on Sunday.

Breakfast in Wengen at a Swiss-German bakery

Alas, the weather turned out to be worse on Sunday!...go figure! We trekked back down to the main street again for some breakfast and then attempted to go down to Interlaken, but changed our minds after realizing that we missed the train that had just left and would have a long wait for the next one. We went back to our apartment in Wengen and enjoyed some lunch and down-time before packing up and heading back to Lausanne. It was a fun weekend in the Alps hanging out with great, much-missed friends!

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