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    • Day 29

      Schynige Platte to Faulhornweg

      September 2, 2022 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

      So then we started our hike! The morning was gorgeous. Beautiful scenery, lovely paths, and amazing weather. We had amazing blue turquoise waters on one side and snow capped mountains and glaciers on the other. We were weaving our way around mountain peaks and constantly amazed at every corner 😍 this was the stretch of about 10km and about 1000m elevation. Honestly the elevation was very gradual so quick a lovely time❤️Read more

    • Day 25

      Grindelwald and the Jungfraujoch

      September 15, 2022 in Switzerland ⋅ ☁️ 57 °F

      Jungrfraujoch is a mountain pass here in the Bernese Oberland. It means "virgin" and it's the location of the highest train station in Europe. We chose the village of Grindelwald as a base for 4 days and nights here to hike and explore the Alps. Our Eurail passes don't cover this area's transportation, so we bought another pass for the myriad of trains, cable cars, buses, and cogwheel trains. It's pricey, but now that we've been here, I can say it's well worth it. It costs about what ski passes cost at most resorts. For 4 days of unlimited travel and one trip to the top of Jungraujoch, it cost about $270 each. That allows you to start or end your hikes at train stations or cable car stops. Even if you can't hike, the cable car rides are majestic and make the pass well worth it. A season pass for the spring - fall cost only $400, so if you can afford to spend more time here, that's a great deal.

      Our train from Bern didn't take too long to get to Interlaken, a town between Lakes Thun and Brienze. They're both bright blue, long, and narrow mountain lakes that frame great views of the mountains in the distance. From Interlaken, we bought our new rail passes and rode another train up to Grindelwald. We rented a small apartment with a wonderful view of Mt. Eiger (of the Eiger Sanction fame.... horrible movie BTW).

      This town allows anyone who spends the night to use the local buses for free. We actually pay for it in our hotel taxes, and it's a great idea. We need to use that bus since we're staying a mile above the village. For our first trip, we just showed our reservation to the driver and grabbed a seat. After checkin, we got a pass to use.

      We hit the ground running on day 1 since it was the best weather day of the 4. We went from Bern to our apartment and immediately took off to catch a bus, a cable car, and a train to get to the Jungfraujoch while the sun was still out. It was amazing. The whole setup is quite the engineering feat. It looks like a James Bond villain's evil lair. Inside there is an underground train station in the mountain, an ice tunnel and caves you can walk through, a Lindt chocolate demo and store, several Swiss watch stores, 3 restaurants, small bars, a light show, and more.

      But the best part is looking down on the largest glacier in the Alps, the Aletsch Glacier. It's slowly melting, but it's not disappearing as fast as many others. From the top, we could see pretty far in all directions and got to walk out on the glacier. The vast majority of the tourists here in September are Chinese, followed by Indians. I hear quite a few American accents also.

      After that, we went back down the mountain and jumped on a random cable car that took us up another valley. We got out and hiked a bit and then zigzagged our way back to our rooom and made dinner.

      On Day 2, we got lucky on the weather and did some more cable cars and hiking. On a small trail down towards Grindelwald, we stumbled on a quaint restaurant with amazing views and opted to have a late lunch/early dinner there with a carafe of wine. It's surprising how there are these tiny restaurants and cafes in the most out of the way places.

      On Day 3, we had a rainy, cold weather day. I had my heart set on doing the classic Schynnige Platte to First hike. We took a train down towards Interlocken and then took an old, narrow-gauge cogwheel train up to Schynige Platte to start the hike. Deanne's shoes weren't the greatest and she did an about face after an hour. I trudged on.

      The views of the lakes and valleys were good for another hour or so, but then it got cold, wet, and windy. A perfect day for hiking! I did the 16 Km hike and even went to the top of Faulhorn. And even way up top, there was a small hotel and restaurant. I couldn't believe it. I had to stop in for coffee. And I was shocked they it cost the same as in the village. I had to ask if they use mules to bring up supplies and she said "No, they used to a long time ago, but now we use helicopters."

      At home, we made spaghetti and enjoyed the views of Eiger with our wine. Restaurants aren't really too expensive here, considering tax and tip is included. I'd say a meal without alcohol costs 10-20% more than a high quality restaurant at home. But we've got an apartment and cooking is a real treat when you're traveling for 10 weeks.

      On Day 4, we visited several villages via cogwheel trains, regular trains and cable cars. Most of the villages are quiet and quaint and are ski towns.

      Wengen was probably the nicest. We ate in Murren above a scenic valley. Lauterbrunnen had too many tourists and not much to see in town. We ended our last day by going all the way back down to Interlaken to see the 2 lakes and take the funicular to Harder Kulm, a line with a 64 degree grade! What views from the top.

      Grindelwald and the neighboring valleys were all that we hoped for, and more. I'd love to come back for skiiing sometime.

      More photos and videos are here. https://photos.app.goo.gl/nPCBkySzBTm8keqf6
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