Travel stories are often replete with chance encounters and unique experiences and part of why I travel is for the same. It is so fascinating to understand the way of life of a person in another country routinely going about his job. It is perfectly normal for him to keep doing his chores day in and day out and yet unique to us as the visitor. My mother often claims that the single most fascinating experience for her as a child was to see how a cow was milked by the local milkman!
Take Peter’s job for example ( Swiss Alps – Part I), he must have been making cheese for years. Its part of who he is and yet watching him at his job has formed part of a must have travel experience in my books while in Switzerland and yet there is more to travel than the experience of cultures and chance meetings. It was not for anything that Lord Byron said “I love not Man the less, but Nature more”. Switzerland is replete with the exquisitely beautiful face of nature. Being disappointed for two days in a row for the very nature showing yet another face of hers in the form of rain, we do all we can to enjoy the country in every other way. Yet, when beauty of such magnitude surrounds us, we await for nature to take us to her heights with visits to alpine peaks.
After visiting Peter, we decide to see the glacier gorges of Grindelwald. The train from Alpiglen to Grindelwald is again almost empty and the views on the ride, spectacular. The twenty minute ride offers magnificent views of the notorious north face of the Eiger. Glacier gorge is situated about two kilometers from the station and is accessible by bus. The wooden walkway inside the ravine stretches for about a kilometer. We walk along the walkway with the glistening pink marble surrounding us while the constant thunder of the melt water flowing past us fills the ravine. The walk is a pleasant one and we have a quick trip around Grindelwald, thereafter which we follow our route back to our Chalet in Wengen in the evening and thank our hostess for suggesting a wonderful itinerary for a day that could have been dull.
The next day is a relatively clear day and the webcam shows the top of the Jungfraü clearer than the Schilthorn. We head for the now familiar station of Wengen from where the Jungfraü is close. We can’t help noticing the droves of tourists ready to jump into the train when it arrives. This is one popular destination in Switzerland and so when the train arrives, we are left standing. Seeing this, the ticket collector asks us to step into the driver’s cabin and take seats next to the driver! We were on some luck with all the trains. Not only were we not brushing shoulders with other tourists, but also had the best possible view of the marvelous tunnel. The train makes its way gradually towards the top of the Jungfraü. The view from the top is majestic with the snow capped mountain peaks at the distance although for most views we had to stand behind glass panes and the peaks felt a little at a distance. It can also get pretty crowded at the top so I am not sure if the traveler who looks for only peace and quiet would like it although missing such beautiful views would be a shame too. Another aspect is how such a place is again catering to a particular type of people to exactly what they would like to see. As a consequence, the food at these places are too pricey, not good and for some reason, busy. Something I would not recommend anyone to try out. Nevertheless, we still enjoy the mountains and return to the Chalet well into the evening. The evening with the setting sun shining among the alps is a beautiful sight to behold. Our hosts are just preparing to have dinner and invite us to some Rösti, the national food of Switzerland which consists of potato fried in fresh cheese and some home made ice-cream. We spend time out in the open meadows enjoying the food and feeling lucky to be there amongst such wonderful people while the sun sets in the background.
The next morning we are lucky to have a clear indicator on the Schilthorn. For the Schilthorn we reach the gorgeous village of Murren from where we take a cable car to the Schilthorn. The peak is hugely famous for the Bond movie shot there and the Piz Gloria consisting the revolving restaurant. There is a museum at the top dedicated to recreating scenes from the Bond franchise and other fun activities. I believe that this is a good revenue model for selling the place. Again, expect a lot of tourists here and some shelling out of money. For more authentic mountain tops I would rather move to the french border Chamonix – In the cradle of French Alps where I felt that the peaks were much closer and the experiences a little bereft of in-your-face tourism. That said, I can never complain against what the beautiful alps always have to offer and Schilthorn offers yet another panoramic view of the breathtaking mountain range. The revolving restaurant is worth a sit-in too. We spend the morning in Schilthorn before we make our way to Murren from where we decide to move on to Interlaken, bidding a sad good-bye to the wonderful Bernese Oberland and to our lovely Chalet in Wengen.
All in all, the time spent in the Bernese Oberland for about a week was just enough to experience both the cultural and the natural delights that the region has to offer. The weather in mountainous regions are highly unpredictable and therefore having the days flexible for the mountain excursions is highly recommended. There are plenty of other options for the inclement weather. Switzerland is a beautiful country and the culture quite intriguing. There is no doubt that the country feeds on tourism and therefore it is important to scratch the surface to see that Switzerland is beyond its touristic image.