Life in the Alps
After a night in the Valley of Waterfalls, we drove as far as the road would take us to where the valley ended and the mountains grew up from the Earth. It was here that we parked at the Stechelberg Gondola. We downsized our two bags to one and tucked the rest of our gear safely in the trunk of our rental car. With a one way ticket up to Gimmelwald, we ascended into the Alps and watched as the fast-paced world shrunk beneath our feet. The packed little cart hanging on a string was filled with an energy and excitement that seemed to propel it skyward, past waterfalls and rock faces.
Jarrett and I were the only passengers to hop off the gondola at the first of two car free villages on the edge of the Alps. We breathed in the fresh air and stared around at the Switzerland we had envisioned. It was beyond surreal.
Everything about the Alps was confirmed; rolling green hills, chalet style homes lined with stacked firewood, and every sized cowbell imaginable hanging from the facades of those chalets that were so richly decorated with wooden balconies and carved ornaments.
After briefly exploring Gimmelwald, we began our short trek up to Mürren along the path only used by foot or the occasional farm truck, quickly forgetting that we were on the edge of a cliff. And then we heard it, the sound of the Alps; cowbells. As we meandered around the bend, we saw the large, awkward creatures running down a hill in the hopes that we were their owners bringing food. Their sure-footedness made their saunter look graceful as the bells around their necks jingled with delight.
With spirits uplifted, we continued en route to Mürren. Once the village materialized in front of us, it wasn’t long before we found ourselves on the streets lined with more Swiss homes, restaurants, and hotels. We followed the incline of the roads to the center of the village and easily located Blumental Hotel. We were pleased to be able to check into our room right away and the hostess led us from the main building which housed a restaurant and guest rooms to a separate guest house where we were delighted to discover a spacious room with a balcony overlooking the village and mountains.
The comfort of the room was exactly what we needed after our mile and a half incline walk, but we needed to taste more of the Alps so in short time we departed to explore this Swiss oasis, free from cars and pollution. As with most new places, we found ourselves in the local grocery store nearly right away. The Mürren COOP had all the necessities needed, but with the typical hefty prices of Switzerland. From there, we weaved our way through the town admiring the architecture and taking in every view. Our hotel, as I believe most in Mürren, offered us passes to the Alpine Sports Centre, which had a wonderful indoor pool and hot tub that stared out at the Alps. For a fee, you could also receive a massage or use the gym. During our three day stay, we utilized that pool for a quick dip everyday after hiking the hills.
To spend even just a day in Mürren is to embrace another world. One without distractions or interruptions. One that allows you to clear your head and connect back to this world’s beauty. And with numerous hiking trails that splinter out from Mürren, one is never short of an adventure. The simplest of hikes, and most rewarding, is heading straight up to Allmendhubel, the hill that overlooks the village. With a stunning backdrop of Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau, you could spend a day just staring out in wonderment.
A 3.6 mile trail from Allmendhubel will lead you straight up to the top of the Schilthorn; most memorable from the 1969 James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. If you so choose this trail, it will save you the $85 round trip ticket price from Mürren to Schilthorn by cable car.
As it so happened we opted out of the strenuous trail skyward, and walked amid the mountains at a leisurely pace, stopping every so often to enjoy the cows that make the Swiss hillsides their home. We are always sure to respect hiking etiquette and this is especially pertinent in the Alps, as the trails lead you through the cow pastures enclosed by gates. They are easy enough to open and pass through (or over), but just always remember to close the gates behind you!
Our three night stay in Mürren, Switzerland provided a much need rejuvenation of the body and soul, along with a deeper appreciation for the wonders and majesty of the Alps. Though it is hard to honestly recommend this location for budget travelers, it is truly worth every extra penny to see the Swiss Alps in all their glory with pristine 360 degree views from atop a cliffside. You won’t regret visiting this destination of a lifetime.
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