Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland - The Quiet Corner of Heaven
by Packardca on September 4, 2011
This trip to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland for me was my 9th trip to Europe, and I had to delay it a whole year to tie up some loose ends back home in Minnesota. Needless to say, I had been looking at pictures, and researching this place as much as I could. I came across Valley Hostel, a very affordable place to stay for about USD$40 per night, which is a steal when you think of how expensive everything is in Switzerland. One large latte will run you about $7!
Travel Tip: Make sure to bring your ATM card, so you can take money out of machines; this way you will get the best exchange rate, and you will only have to worry about your ATM card!
Back to accommodation. Keep in mind that this place is a hostel, but it is a very comfortable hostel. I went during October, or the off-season, so there weren't many people there. Nevertheless, the host of the place was very friendly, showed me the ins and outs of the hostel, and was available for any information of the area. While in Lauterbrunnen, make sure to go shopping for food earlier in the morning, because the food store in town closes at approximately 6:00pm. No worries, though, if you don't get there before closing, you can always take a short train ride to Interlaken for some food for the evening. All I have to say is get ready to have the most calming time you will probably ever have in your life!
Now that we have accommodation taken care of, what is there to do here? Sadly, there is not much in town for you do to other than gaze at the amazing beauty of the valley that never seems to end! There is a walking path on the north side of town that goes all the way up the valley to get you to the places I mention below. The path leads you to a park that is part of the town. You have to hike up a bit of a hill to get to the entrance of this long metal tunnel. I had to rest for a bit before I went on, so it is a good idea to sit on the bench that is right before you go into the tunnel.
On a side note, this tunnel has a very cool echo in it! While you are sitting there waiting to get your breath back, feel free to yell, "Echo!" After resting for a bit, you will enter the tunnel, and you will find yourself walking up stairs to a point behind a waterfall. Yes, that is right. I said behind a waterfall! It was very fun, and you can also take some great pictures while you're up there. I hope you will all bring your best cameras. I recommend the Cannon Powershot 210IS. The reason I recommend this one is that it is light, easy to carry, and takes amazing photos along with 720p HD video. When you're back home watching the videos you took, you will find yourself transported back to Switzerland!
Another place you can stop is Trummelbachfalle, a place with 30+ waterfalls in the side of the valley wall. The price is very reasonable, and it is just a short ride up the elevator to go and see all the falls. It is quite loud in this place because of all the water, but it is still very fun and interesting seeing the different patterns the waterfalls make. The man who operates the elevator told me something: He told me you need three things for Switzerland, and those are good shoes (boots), a good jacket (waterproof), and a big camera (good quality camera). I added something to that list myself. Everywhere in Switzerland you will find fountains with water coming out of them. They looked so inviting with that pure water coming out of them. When I was there, I asked someone if I could fill my water bottle up there, and they responded with, "Sure you can, it's from the glacier so it will be cold." "Perfect!," I thought to myself, and ended up enjoying glacier water during my whole trip in Switzerland.
After your stop in Trummelbachfalle, you can head further down the path, and you will come to a checkpoint where the cable car leaves for Schilthorn. If you remember in an old James Bond film, Mr. Bond finds himself surrounded by mountains and snow and a very peculiar round building. This is that place. It costs about USD$100 to get there. Since my friend and I have a very strict budget, we decided not to go, but we still wanted to go to the top of the valley. We went instead to Muren, a beautiful place to take some very nice photos. There was a huge stump there that you can stand on and have some perfect photos with the valley behind you. There wasn't much to do in Muren since it was the off-season, but we did eat at an amazing restaurant. It was just to the right as you exit the checkpoint for the cable car. You can choose to sit inside and have a great view out the window of the valley, or you can choose to sit outside and have a truly breathtaking view of the valley. Your table is almost literally on the edge of the valley with a steep drop-off right over the railing! It was great to have some well-deserved lunch at this place.
My friend and I decided to hike down one cable car checkpoint since we went up two of them as described on our ticket. The hike down was very calming and awe-inspiring! The whole time, on this very narrow road, we were staring at the side of this great valley. I know I have said this over and over again, but it is true you never get used to it! You always say to yourself, "Man that's amazing." But you can't really put any other adjective on it! We got on the cable car after our hike, and we went back down to the valley floor and hiked back.
When you are in the valley, take some time to just not speak and listen. Listen to the cow bells ding back and forth. There is something very mysterious about hearing this, especially for someone who doesn't get out of the city much like me.
If you decide to take the train a bit further, you can take the train to the Jungfrau, the third highest mountain of the Bernese Alps. When you get up there, feel free to experience all the excitemen