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Switzerland (cont.)

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We left Geneva and headed towards Interlaken.  We headed there on a whim - no reservations, just a desire to visit some beautiful areas.  Once in Interlaken, we looked at the map and headed south into a valley feeding into Interlaken.  About 5 minutes out of town, we knew we'd made a good decision.

ZE2G1522.jpg The valley opens up to some mighty peaks off in the distance - our first glimpse of Mönch which peaks at 4107m (13475 feet).


We ended up in the town of Lauterbrunnen and managed to find an apartment that is delightfully located: a block from the train station, a block from the supermarket, a block from the cable car up one of the mountains.  And it has a lovely view of the local waterfall, which is lit up at night. The surrounding mountains are breathtaking.


Of course the overall effect is a little less magnificent in the rain.



Our apartment also has a local charm to it (as observed through our kitchen window one night): 





Okay, you start in Lauterbrunnen at 2600 feet and take a train to Wengen at 4200 feet - it's a cogwheel train due to the steep terrain.

ZE2G1789.jpg Looks a little like those Lionel trains with 3 rails, eh?


Wengen is a town three times the size of Lauterbrunnen, and it can only be reached on foot or by train.  As a quick aside: there is a huge parking garage at the train station here in Lauterbrunnen - apparently where the people staying in Wengen (they have 4 times as many hotels as Lauterbrunnen!), the people living in Wengen and the people working in Wengen park their cars.  From Wengen, the train continues the climb up to Kleiner Scheidegg (6800 feet), and then you board a different train to make the final ascent to the Jungfraujoch, which, at 11,333 feet, they dramatically call "Top of Europe."  The last train ride is almost entirely through tunnels - 35 minutes of them!  And when you arrive you are still in a tunnel. 


ZE2G1558.jpg ZE2G1559.jpg Keeping amused in the tunnel.


Once you get out of the tunnels you are in the cold and surrounded by snow and it is bright!  Off in the distance you can see glaciers and mountain peaks galore! 

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The train station is inside a granite peak - the entrance is at the base, and there is an observation deck on the top.  Visitors who brave going outside (it wasn't too bad, really), have the option of a quick look around, some skiing or snowboarding, a dogsled ride (not running when we visited), or a stroll across a glacier "to experience a high-Alpine ambiance" (according to the brochure).  The "stroll" should take about an hour, and only goes up another 650 feet, so it didn't sound too bad. Note, however, that the "stroll" is at an altitude of 3454 m (11,333 feet) so progress may be a tad slower than you expect.



20 minutes later, we'd made some progress, but still had a ways to go - this lunch had better be worth it!



The scenery, however, was breathtaking (as was the altitude), so on we went.


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About an hour and a half later, we arrived at the Mönchsjochhütte (Mönchsjoch hut) which offers accommodation and dining.  Today, it was sheltered from the wind and it was actually quite warm in the sun.  The food was decent, and the trip back would be downhill - hurray! 



Heading back down to the train station.  See the specks at the base of the granite peak?  That's where we're going - it's too bad they didn't offer sleds!


In addition to the train station, the facility has an observation deck at the top (reached by elevator!), restaurants and gift shops (obviously) and a really cool (literally) ice sculpture gallery carved into the surrounding glacier.

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ZE2G1666.jpg Tasha preparing for her "ICE TV" report.



Trümmelbach Falls

Luckily for us, the landlady mentioned that there was rain coming in, so we visited Jungfraujoch on our first day in the area - the sunny day.  It has been raining pretty much non-stop ever since we woke up on day 2.  We took it easy on our second day and caught up on some world schooling.  Not wanting to spend the day completely indoors, we headed out for a short hike through the rain and drizzle to visit the Trümmelbach Falls. Just 45 minutes up the river according to the brochure, and this one actually took about 45 minutes :-).


These are 10 glacier water falls that cascade down inside the mountain.  You ride up in a tunnel lift and visit various falls within the granite.  The water flow is impressive after 1 day of rain and is probably unbelievable in the spring with the snow melt combined with spring rains. 



Grindelwald (the place, not the wizard)


ZE2G1790.jpg Yannis says the railway looks a little like a roller coaster with all those dips.


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Warning - the cows are everywhere in these mountains.  Sometimes they get in the way and require some coaxing to let the train by.


As we climbed over the mountain to Grindelwald, the visibility was at times reduced to basically nothing.

ZE2G1799.jpg "Where's that beautiful scenery I was promised?" ;-)

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Finally, as we headed down the hill, we got a glimpse of Grindelwald and it looked like the weather was going to be decent for our walk.  Alas, the rains started shortly after we arrived and never let up.  Later in the day, the road between Lauterbrunnen and Interlaken was closed due to flooding and mudslides (there was 1m of mud on the road according to the official Yannis spoke with), a result of the 2 days of consistent, and sometimes heavy rain. 



On our last full day in Switzerland, it continued to rain, and it got much colder.  So much for hiking in nice weather - but we were going to get our hiking in today, come hail or high water!  Taking the cable car up the western side of the valley and the connecting train south along the plateau, we explored the area around the town of Mürren; elevation 1634m (5361 feet) - a nice altitude for hiking, actually, and just below where the snow was sticking. So, we decided to hike up a little and see if we could reach the snow.



You just have to love how creative some people can be - decorating the firewood pile.


The good news was that the rain was much lighter today than in Grindelwald, so the hiking was tolerable.  The visibility was still a bit restricted for most of the hike, however - which is too bad given the spectacular mountains around here.

ZE2G1936.jpg IMG_3030ca.jpg ZE2G1931.jpg

Yannis photographs the path.... then Newenka photographs him.  :-)


After about an hour, we did get up to the snow - not a lot of snow, but enough to make the surrounding area a little more festive.

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The highlight of the walk (for the kids, at least) was the little farm adjacent to the restaurant that became our rest stop.

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Pigs and chickens in the snow, oh my!


And much to our surprise, the weather in Lauterbrunnen had lifted a little as we came down on the cable car - for the first time in 3 days, we could actually see significant portions of the valley and the impressive Staubbach Falls.


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Our Extra Day - Mannlichen to Kleiner Scheidegg


And then the next morning we saw this:


 ZE2G1957.jpg ZE2G1952.jpg ZE2G1950.jpg 


We'd better stay an extra day!  We organized it with the landlady and then off we went up to Wengen on the train and then up to Männlichen in a cable car.   There is a lovely path that goes along the crest of a mountain from Männlichen to Kleiner Scheidegg, but this is what we found:


ZE2G1977.jpg ZE2G1973.jpg


We also found that the path we wanted to take was closed!  Bummer.  So we rode back down the other side of the mountain in a cable car to Grund.  Little did we know this was the longest cable car in Europe - it just kept going and going and going!  From there we took a train up to Kleiner Scheidegg and hiked up to the Eigergletscher, the Eiger glacier, and back down the other side of the mountain.    It was a lovely extra day, we were glad we stayed. 




ZE2G2099.jpg ZE2G2021.jpg

                                                                                       The village of Mürren perched atop a cliff!


 ZE2G2212.jpg Anika loved the goats!


Next stop - Germany - probably the Schwartzwald, unless they are having this same weather, then we'll head further north to Wiesbaden. 

Stop the presses!  Following message received August 11:

-----Original Message-----
From: mischy d [vcmnvmkdlgkfjdvfkld]
Sent: Thursday, August 09, 2007 7:07 PM
To: Newenka@fjkdsljfksdljfksdl
Subject: we are coming!!


you guys need more internet access!!  tell me where we can find you guys on

the 13th.


we are landing in munich.


ta ta.



Learn.Laugh.Share. Reallivemoms is right place!


Mischy and Joel due to arrive in two days time in Munich!  Change of plans!  Another extra day in Lauterbrunnen and then up to Munich to meet them. (Still Germany, however!)


    Extra Extra Day - First to Bachalpsee to Waldspitz to Bort


    Perhaps the loveliest day yet!  We hiked all day, through some of the most beautiful landscape - we'll try to give you a feel.


ZE2G2249.jpg Bachaplsee, at least part of it.



As a side note, Yannis was so enchanted by the alpine cows that he created his own "Ode to cows" (and included the cow bells soundtrack that Newenka asked Anika to capture).  He has it posted on his personal journal page - click here







Wildflowers of the Bachalpsee and Waldspitz:

The hike was also accented with a large assortment of alpine wildflowers (all the photos below were taken on this one day's hike!)



    Okay, now it's off to Germany to collect Mischy and Joel! 



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