This post is a continuation of an inordinately delayed series about our trip to a small corner of the beautiful country of Switzerland. After a day in the lakeside town of Lausanne (Lausanne Old Town , a pleasant surprise – Swiss Sojourn, Part 1 ) we had spent three glorious days in the resort town of Zermatt. We had lucked out weather wise and able to enjoy the Rothorn (First taste of Zermatt & the Matterhorn – Up the Rothorn – Swiss Sojourns, Part 3 ), the Gornergrat (Gornergrat, Riffelsee and the trek to Riffelberg – Swiss Sojourn , Part 4 ) and the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (Matterhorn Glacier Paradise and Schwarzsee – A celebration in Zermatt – Swiss Sojourn Part 5 ) in our three days there. It was now time to move on to our next destination – Murren.
Murren was a small Alpine resort town in the Berner Oberlander part of Switzerland that is most frequented by tourists. We had chosen Murren because it was a small town that needed a cable car or a smaller mountain railway ride to get to which meant less people staying there rather than the more popular towns of Interlaken or Lauterbrunnen. Staying at Murren also gave us easy approach to the Schilthorn cable car and numerous short treks. But it also meant numerous train changes for us to reach Murren from Zermatt. Being light travellers with just one big rucksack for the both of us helped as we changed a series of trains to reach Lauterbrunnen. The train ride was scenic and comfortable as we left one Alpine Valley and entered another.
Enjoying the train rides in Switzerland
From Lauterbrunnen we crossed the road and went to the cable car station where we took the huge cable car up to Grutschalp. We disembarked at Grutschalp where a train was waiting to take the disembarking passengers further up to Murren if they desired. It was amazing to see the public transportation connections work so flawlessly and on time – the Swiss efficiency in full display. The train was full and it left me worried about the crowds in Murren. But I realised that almost all of these people were on their way up to Schilthorn and only passing through Murren. The train meandered through forests and meadows for half an hour before reaching the end of the line at Murren.
We got down at the under renovation Murren station and walked to our hotel Alpenblick which was very close to the railway station. I had chosen the Alpenblick because of it’s proximity to the station and because it was a family run hotel with very few rooms. I have always found these small family run hotels to be a great choice and this was no different. The owners cheerily checked us in and showed us to our room on the second floor. This was another occasion where travelling light saved us a lot of grief as most of these small hotels have no elevators and have tight staircases as an added difficulty level. The room however was of a good size and had everything expected in a modern hotel room. But a beautiful summer day is not to be spent in a hotel room in Switzerland. So we quickly dumped our luggage, freshened up and left to explore what Murren had to offer.
It was yet another glorious sunny day in the Swiss Alps ( the weather gods seemed to be very pleased with us!) making it perfect weather for a short hike/ walk. The owners helpfully provided us with a good map of the area and suggested that we take the walk down to Gimmelwald.
Gimmelwald is a small Alpine Village down in the valley below Murren surrounded by Alpine meadows all around. The walk from Murren to Gimmelwald is along a paved path that goes gently downhill with awe-inspiring views over the mountains of Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. Map in hand we started towards the path to Gimmelwald to soon stop and take in the views of the Alps all around us. The ever helpful signs said 45 minutes to Gimmelwald but I knew we would take twice the time since we would stop every few minutes to enjoy the scenic beauty all around.
The view of the mountains of Eiger, Monch and Jungrau from Murren
As we passed through Murren we were glad we had made the choice to stay here. Even in the peak of summer there were a few tourists here and there, it wasn’t even close to crowded like the bigger towns in the valley below.
Some views of the small Alpine town of Murren
We turned onto the path towards Gimmelwald which had gardens full of a huge variety of flowers along the path at regular intervals and lush green alpine meadows all along. There were hardly a handful people on the path with us in sight. I am always amazed at how few people are on these very beautiful trails in Europe. After taking a few photos with my ultra wide lens I switched to my trusty 300mm to take photos of the huge variety of flowers on display.
Gardens with alpine flowers line the path to Gimmelwald
The Eiger and the Jungfrau look over us constantly as we walk down to Gimmelwald
The path winds down through meadows on the slopes
There were also common alpine birds like redstarts, robins, chaffinches and warblers flying around and I took the opportunity to take a few record shots since I had the 300 mm on the camera anyway.
Common alpine birds flit around the trees on the path to Gimmelwald
There were parasailers flying around the valley and made for fine subjects for the 300mm with the sheer cliffs behind as a backdrop.
Parasailers fly around the Lauterbrunnen valley
The rest of the way to Gimmelwald was spent photographing the alpine flora in full bloom in the summer. Everything from pine cones to the smallest of blossoms got their photo taken. Obviously photos can’t do any such sights full justice, but I had to give it a try. As I concentrated on the flora it was left to the better half and her mobile to take photos of the landscape around. As expected the 2km trail was completed by us in a leisurely hour and a half without any sort of difficulty.
The variety of Alpine flowers on display as captured by the 300mm
The paved road to Gimmelwald
The better half takes a photo of me searching for my favourites – birds!
Where there are flowers there are bound to be bees, butterflies and moths enjoying the plentiful nectar. It was fun watching them flit around from flower to flower and sip away to glory.
Bees, Butterflies and moths enjoy the plentiful nectar on offer
Soon we reached the one lane village of Gimmelwald. My parents had been here a few years ago and enjoyed this walk a lot. They had also mentioned about the numerous cats in the village. So we walked around trying to find them and soon enough we ran across one of the feline residents of this alpine village spying on us from amidst the grass. I took a few photos of this feline before it decided that it had seen enough of us and resumed on its merry way into the bushes.
Descending down the last batch of stairs before reaching Gimmelwald
The one lane village of Gimmelwald
A feline resident of Gimmelwald makes for a great subject for the 300mm
It was way past lunch time , but thanks to the heavy breakfast we had enjoyed in Zermatt we had managed to pull through till now. The walk now done , our tummies decided that they had enough and started growling. So we decided to stop at what seemed like the most popular place to eat in Gimmelwald, the Mountain Hostel to have a very late lunch.
The sign points to the most popular watering hole in Gimmelwald
We ordered a vegetarian pizza and I ordered a big stein of the local dark beer for myself. The pizza and beer were both excellent and relatively cheap by Swiss standards. Moreover the outdoor seating in the great weather made it a memorable meal.
A huge stein of beer for me
A piping hot pizza loaded with toppings makes for a great lunch
The location makes the meal even more memorable
With our tummies satiated we walked towards the cable car station in Gimmelwald from where we would take the cable car back to Murren.
At the cable car station in Gimmelwald
The Cable car dropped us off at the other end of town from where we walked to our hotel. We picked up a few things to eat and drink in the local supermarket along the way that we would have as a light dinner in our room.
It had been a great first day in the Berner Oberlander region and we hoped that the good weather would stay with us till we were here. We had planned to go to the top of Schilthorn early next morning , weather permitting and enjoy that vantage point before the crowds from down below reached there.
But that is a story for another post, some other time, some other day.