I will never forget the color of the glacier water that makes up the rivers and lakes surrounding Interlaken.
Situated between two lakes at the bottom of the Jungfrau mountain in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland, this venerable five-star hotel and spa, which dates back to 1865, offers scenery and comfort in equal measure. Subtly balancing tradition and modernity, the rooms are bright, spacious, and brimming with refined furnishings and fabrics, and all come with picturesque views across the town of Interlaken or the Harder Kulm mountain. There are several higher-end suites to choose from; modernists might like the clean lines of the stylish Bel-Air suite, while hedonists will love the lavish Tower Suite, with its two terraces, kitchenette, bar and dining room. The hotel’s three restaurants serve everything from modern nouveau cuisine to Swiss classics and Italian food, and there’s a handsome bar and a gloriously expansive spa for further diversion.
Taking a break while hiking down the steep steep trail from the Schilthorn to the Lauterbrunnen Valley in Switzerland... The soundtrack to this summer day: The tinkling of distant cowbells below. Above tree-line, the only way I could think of to convey the verticality of the terrain to friends and family back home was to take a snapshot looking down 'through my feet' to the villages and meadows beneath me; this valley is one of the most beautiful spots on Earth.
The 37-room Hotel Bellevue in Interlaken is one of those places that its guests might rather keep as their own secret insider place. A true value with an ideal location, it's just five minutes from the Interlaken West train station and close to markets and shopping. Whether you are visiting Interlaken in the summer or on a ski vacation, few hotels are more convenient. Rooms are clean and comfortable and though the hotel may be old, the WiFi and service are top notch. The views, of both the river and the mountains, are priceless.
Many have heard, by now, that "the best camera is the one that's with you." Hiking in the Alps as a college student, armed with one of those disposable panorama cardboard-contraptions, I kept wishing for a better camera. Then I reminded myself--just enjoy the moment: facing the vastness of the Jungfrau Massif across the Lauterbrunnen Valley while descending the Schilthorn on a mid-summer day... From left to right, the peaks are the "Eiger" (3970m/13025 ft), "Mönch" (4099m/13448 ft) and "Jungfrau" (4158 m/13642 ft) http://www.schilthorn.ch/en/hiking/
From the Lauterbrunnen Valley south of Interlaken, you can take a series of cable cars up to the peak of the Schilthorn, across from the Jungfrau massif in the Bernese Alps. Silent, effortless, costly, and worth every Swiss Franc, you float up past cliffs, villages, chalets, tinkling-bell-clad cows, and finally, up into the clouds. At the 2,970 m (9,744 ft) summit, a revolving restaurant commands views of the Berner Oberland. Instead of taking the cable car back down, I hiked—from being on top of the world back down into grass, back down to the cows, descending to tree line, and finally, into the cluster of chalets that make up the village of Mürren.
Facing the Eiger, Mönch and the Jungfrau in the central Alps: no better place to be for mid-summer hiking...Stock up on bread and cheese (Swiss, of course) in Mürren, and head out on the trails above the Lauterbrunnen Valley; cowbells will be your soundtrack and wildflowers the foreground...
The North Face, one of the most famous mountains in the world is located near the picturesque village of Wengen, Switzerland. It is one of the climbing world's Shangri La's with heroic and tragic stories of men and women climbing to glory or to death. I'm just a normal human so climbing any of it was far out of my reach, but what I could do, with the help of a local friend, was climb, in a somewhat tourist friendly way, a small little section of the North Face. You start by taking the Jungfrau train from Wengen. It weaves up the mountain at the most amazing angle and will go all the way to the top of the Jungfrau and into the permasnow. We get off a few stops early to join a path that takes you around the base of the North Face and too a sheer rock face with old metal laders and metal ropes drilled into place. These are the things that will help you to scale up this section. Even with a harness, a helmet and a lot of help from the ladders and ropes, this is still a pretty exhilarating climb for a beginner. Once you reach the top and take pictures overlooking a beautiful swiss valley in full bloom of summer, and take a moment to just feel awesome, you clamber down the scree under the glacier back to the train station. Beautiful, picturesque, fun, exhilarating. A wonderful way to experience the adventure and beauty of Switzerland.
There isn't anything quite like experiencing a place from a bird’s eye view of 4,500 feet high in the sky. Switzerland, particularly Interlaken, has become a place known for being adventurous and fun. I couldn't imagine any other place to take my first leap off the side of a mountain to breathe in the life changing views of Thun and Brienz lakes and the town center of Interlaken. For nearly fifteen minutes I breathed in the crisp, clean Swiss air as I gazed at picture worthy mountain views.
Verbier remains one of the most popular resorts in Switzerland, and nothing encapsulates its chic, trendy image more than La Vache (The Cow). This converted ski-lift station was opened by pop star James Blunt, former England rugby international Lawrence Dallaglio and the most successful World’s superbike champion Karl Fogarty. The three celebs put together a menu, with the help of experimental chef Heston Blumenthal, of simple and inexpensive food such as home-made soup, pizzas and burgers. In Mürren, multiple cable-car rides take you to Schilthorn Mountain and its famous Piz Gloria revolving restaurant (pictured), where the James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was filmed.
The symmetry of these three red-roofed barns was a shot admired, but also expected, in this incredibly dramatic and otherworldly valley at the base of the Jungfrau.
Our friends were supposed to fly home to the States on a Thursday last October but due to increased security threats, their flights were overbooked. We took advantage of the clear day and the extra time with them to drive up to Waldegg and Beatenberg for a picnic lunch and to watch the paragliders taking off. As we walked up the slope to the launch site, this is what we witnessed! The Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau in full splendor, the air unusually free of haziness.
While many walked through the streets of the small town, I decided to head along the river and came across this beautiful view of Lake Brienz.
Doesn't it look like we're photoshopped onto a postcard? What you can't see are the tiny people in the sky, because everywhere you look, there are any number of paragliders at a time! We had just finished canyoning in the mountains, and then ate traditional rosti and wienerschniztel, before heading back to our hostel. We were studying abroad in Innsbruck, Austria for the summer and Interlaken was our favorite vacation we took. It's the outdoor adventure capital of Europe, and I absolutely can't wait to go back. Canyoning, hiking, backpacking, skiing, kayaking, bungee jumping, base jumping, and more!
The 86-room Linzer Grand Hotel Beau Rivage has views of both the Alps and the River Aare, including a terrace for a drink or meal overlooking the river during warm months. The hotel is the closest option to the train station and just a short walk from the heart of Interlaken.
Gimmelwald is a tiny farm community in the mountains above the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Hiking from here begins on nearly vertical trails along grassy pastureland. I've never hiked in a more beautiful place than this, where the view across the narrow valley offers the Jungfrau, Munch, and Eiger summits in one amazing vista. If you prefer a ride, you can take the series of white-knuckle gondola trips to the summit of Schilthorn, a popular viewpoint for 360-degree views of the Alps.
High in the Emmental Alps, off the Glaubenbielen Pass, Rita and Wisi Enz run a small summer farm called Egghüttä. It’s a modest affair surrounded by clichés: towering peaks and lazy cows. I wandered in and Rita fed me a cheesy noodle dish called älplermagronen. As they do with all guests, that night, they led me to a loft where I slept swaddled in wool blankets on a bed of hay. I awoke to cowbells, relaxed and grateful. I could have stayed somewhere with a real bed, but why? —Tim Neville This appeared in the August/September 2014 issue.
Sledging (what we'd call sledding here in the US) in the Swiss Alps is truly amazing fun. The sledging runs in Switzerland include some sort of transport (gondola, tram, train, etc.) to the top of a very large mountain and then can be up to several kilometers long in length. Let me clarify here: I mean that one single RUN can be several kilometers long. You ride either the traditional wooden sled, or a modern plastic version. You simply hold onto your lead rope no matter what (or else your sled might be headed downhill without you), reach behind you with your other hand and hold onto the rear of the seat deck, give a little shove, quickly place your feet atop the curved portion of the runners, and down you go, learning how to steer best along the way. I found sledging to be particularly fun at night, especially during a full moon. Sliding along a moonlit run, slipping across the contrasting packed white snow and black moonshadows of towering trees, is simply amazing. After a day of strenuous skiing, climbing, or some other activity, sledging was a great way to round out an outstanding day - and even more so if, with typical Swiss efficiency, your run just happens to end at a warm little chalet restaurant that has bottles of red wine and warm fondue on the table waiting for you.
All the restaurants in Gimmelwald were closed. We were too early for lunch so my husband and I stopped by and picked up some snacks (Goldfish crackers, an apple and toasted almonds) from local shop owner Ole. We told Ole that we were hiking to the top of the Schilthorn and he gave us a tip: Hike past the Rotstock Hutte, over a hill and you will come across a lake. It is a "little slice of paradise," he said. So my husband and I had our mission, should we accept it. After five hours or so of hiking we found ourselves at the hut. They were all booked up for dinner and lodging, but offered to let us put our tent up in the barn. Instead, we grabbed a Toblerone and forged on to paradise. Dusk started to set in through the Swiss Alps and we began to think this lake was just a myth. Suddenly, we came over one more knoll and there it was. We put our sad little two-person tent up and watched a lonely goat teeter on the edge of a hillside across the valley. That night we lived off of Goldfish and almonds, but we had found our lake. That's all that mattered. In the morning we pressed on to the top of the Schilthorn and rewarded ourselves with a couple beers and a heaping plate of pasta goodness.
Every serious skier dreams about gliding down virgin powder snow and unblemished mountain sides, and depending on snow fall, Switzerland has ample opportunity for just that. Mürren is blessed with hike-friendly mountains and powder-packed bowls which maintain fresh snow days after a big fall. A cable car up to Schilthorn’s peak opens up various opportunities for challenging off-piste skiing, although a guide is recommended. Resorts at Verbier and Grindelwald are among the most popular for off-piste skiing and also offer expert guides on powder skiing such as Verbier’s Powder and Freeride camps, or PowderZone—a three-day powder skiing course exclusive to Grindelwald.
This is the longest gondola cable car ride up to the mountains in Grindelwald. The ride took about 30 minutes to the top and it was the most beautiful site I have ever seen. As you go up, you hear the cowbells in the distance along the mountainside and smelling the fresh crisp mountain air., it was beautiful. I arrived at the top and took this photo, I was laying in the grass on a perfect summer sunny day and felt completely at peace. I was surrounded by absolute beauty and nature, what more could I ask for?
A deep valley in eastern Switzerland, the Lower Engadine region is a lesser-known alternative to the more developed Upper Engadine (think St. Moritz). Full of remote villages that sit along a gorge carved by the Inn River, the area draws hikers to its meadow trails in the summer and skiers to its slopes in the winter. The cultural scene is another highlight, with hotels offering excellent restaurants, concerts, and art shows. —Kimberly Bradley This appeared in the January/February 2011 issue.
One of the most amazing days of my entire life was spent on the edge of a cliff 2,400 feet above the Lauterbrunnen Valley in Switzerland. I have hiked all of my life but never anything requiring ropes or mountain climbing experience. On the Via Ferrata, which translates to "way of iron", I was able to literally hike on the edge of a cliff using rebar steps that were drilled into the side of the cliff. We rented the necessary equipment in nearby Murren to take advantage of the safety cable also drilled into the rock. It was definitely the most thrilling adventure I have ever done. With only one piece of rebar between your hiking boots and the valley below, it is not for the faint-of- heart! Not only was the scenery unbelievable, but it was an amazing experience.
The question begged to be asked. Here we were, walking through the Lauterbrunnen Valley, passing a trailer campground, and seeing a trailer with . . . a New Mexico license plate in its window. I'm fairly certain the guy outside it didn't drive that airstream across the Pond. So I do something unusual for me but increasingly common in travel. I ask him. “Oh, we got that on our trip to the American West! We were so happy to be there!” The jovial older French man ushers us over to his “home,” the trailer he and his wife spend their summers in. Between his straggling English and my struggling French, we swap travel stories over his photo album of America. He hops around on one foot, imitating the war whoop and dance he says he had seen “your Indians” do in New Mexico. Never mind that they aren't my Indians, nor that politically correct Americans would never say such a thing. His enthusiasm matters more than his phraseology. An unplanned walk, an unexpected encounter, a completely entertaining evening. Plus, a moonlit walk back to our Lauterbrunnen hostel. A good way to end a day in the Alps.
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