Friday, June 16, 2023

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

The next day, we set out to cross into Switzerland again and visit Interlaken (the land between the lakes) and the Lauterbrunnen Valley, home of the Jungfrau, the highest peak in Europe. This is literally the Rivendell of Europe, as they used this location for filming some of the scenes in the Elven haven here. On the way there, we encountered a Vespa convention being held in the town of Interlaken. Hundreds of Vespas everywhere, some with multiple passengers. Our friend Jeff would have loved it. This is also one of the best places in the world for BASE jumping, skydiving, and paramotoring and we saw many people flying through the air via various forms of transport.

Given our time constrains, once we arrived, we discussed several options, and eventually settled on hiking up the valley wall to a town called Wengen, which sits on the shoulder of the mountain. Two and half miles and 1,600 ft. of elevation gain later, we made it. This was quite a punishing hike, but the views all the way up were worth it. About halfway up, we encountered a horse trough with water flowing through a spigot into it. Recalling Rachel’s guidance, and observing two other hikers refilling their water bottles, we took advantage of this refill opportunity, without which we would have ended the hike extremely thirsty.

At Wegen, we caught the train back down to the valley floor. As we rode, we all agreed we should have taken the train *up* the mountain and then “hiked” back down. However, given all there was to do in the valley, we were mainly focused on optimizing our time, and waiting for the train didn’t seem very enticing when there are mountains to be hiked.

Our next stop was Trümmelbach Falls, a series of waterfalls inside of the mountain, which we were told is a must see. We arrived just a few minutes before closing time, and the lady at the ticket booth tried to talk us out of it. She said, “There is not enough time to see all of the falls.” I told her we may never be here in our lives again, and asked if we could see them anyways. Luckily, I was more successful here than at the Arc de Triomphe, she conceded, sold us our tickets, and we boarded the last sketchy looking elevator to the first lookout. From there, we ran up the stairs to get all the way to the top, and began to work our way back down. I don’t know that I have ever climbed that many steps with a similar sense of urgency, but we got to see all of the waterfalls, and guy locking up let us linger for a while, taking it all in.

As we were getting ready to leave, we noticed the local police interviewing someone in the parking lot, but, rather than involve ourself in another international incident, we moved along quickly. From here, we drove up the Lauterbrunen valley until we had to turn and then drove back down, playing the Rivendell theme from Lord of the Rings, and taking it all in.

Our final stop for the day was at Lake Thunersee, one of the two lakes which give Interlaken its name. We found a nice public beach with public bathrooms maintained well enough to put many facilities in the United States to shame. We jumped into the ice cold, pristine, blue water for what would be a short shim (and more of a dip for Gabby). As we were getting ready to leave, an elderly lady showed up, waded in, and swam out towards the middle of the lake, apparently unbothered.

No comments:

Post a Comment