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above the tree-line in the Swiss Alps: a hiker's dream
Hiking down the Schilthorn may be hard on your toes, but it's a high-altitude feast for the rest of your senses...From the Lauterbrunnen valley south of Interlaken, you can take a cable-car up to the summit and then hike down to Mürren, across from the Jungfrau massif. A big block of chocolate (Swiss, of course) makes for a great hiking companion on a summer day in the Alps...

It's hard not to sound like tourist-brochure-jargon when describing this area--it truly is one of the most beautiful places on the planet...

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Down, Down the Schilthorn
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.

hiking in the Alps--disposable camera, permanent panorama
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)


Finding Ole's little "slice of paradise"
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.

A James Bond-worthy Breakfast
Between October 1968 and May 1969, Hollywood came to the Schilthorn, a 9,744-foot peak that rises over the quaint village of Mürren in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. The aim: To film the James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Though the film didn’t end up being one of 007’s best known, its spectacular scenery made a lasting impression. In particular, many Bond fans remember the striking circular mountaintop lair from which Arch Bond villain Ernst Starvro Blofeld plotted doom and destruction. That building, which sits atop the Schilthorn, is actually a revolving restaurant, Piz Gloria, which is likely the most dazzling breakfast spot in the country. After tucking into a buffet spread of cheese, charcuterie, eggs, and yummy breads, head downstairs to visit the permanent James Bond exhibition. The interactive exhibits here allow you to fly a pretend helicopter around the Alps, shoot villains from a bobsled and digitally superimpose your face onto Bond’s or any number of other characters from the film for hilarious action shots.

For the best flight routes to Jungfrau Region / Haslital / Schilthorn, visit swiss.com.

Schilthorn, Lauterbrunnen
It was initially a not so planned trip, until we realised it is such a shame not to go to Switzerland while we were in Annecy and Megeve, which is just a few hours drive. The experience all along was achingly splendid to recall. We stayed a few short nights in the town of Interlaken filled with lurking tourists despite the slowly dropping temperature . Everything was new for me, the language, the architecture, people and their style, food, even the consuming moment of converting Euros to Franc. The changes were quite a bit of a jolt to me. It was my first time crossing border by land,

With this very short Swiss trip that we had, Schilthorn went on the top of my fav list. The views are simply nothing short of spectacular. We were quite disappointed that we didn’t get to have a mountain full of snow and fog, as we are rooting for a magical photo with this backdrop. However, we were happy to have the sun shining brightly on our faces as we enjoy our picnic lunch in the snow. It is just roughly 2 hours drive from Zurich, 1 hour from Bern, and 30 minutes from Interlaken, so you’ll never forgive yourself if you miss it when you visit Switzerland! : )