Getting almost to the “Top of Europe”
Switzerland is not part of political but “only” of the geographical Europe and the “Top of Europe” is in Switzerland and it is having a huge success amongst tourists from all over the world.
The destination was on my list for a while. I had been up there as a kid with school but I meant to bring my travel companions up there too as I remembered that it was definitely a worthwhile Swiss spot to visit.
There is nothing like planning a trip in advance. However, if you have trouble to convince your adventure buddies to join the fun of hiking in the mountains you got to be pre-cautious. For that reason I made our hotel reservation late in case there would be some last-minute change of mind or non-cooperating weather. For that destination the sun has to play the game.
After 2h30 drive from Geneva we left the car in Lauterbrunnen to take the train to Wengen, which is a small car free village. I am so obsessed with my big love Zermatt, that I had hardly realized how many other car free villages exist in Switzerland. Wengen is one of them and the day we arrived it looked as if a Jewish-Muslim peace summit took place. Veiled (hijab and niqãb) muslim women and Jewish men with sideburns (peyot) shared the main street leading through the village.
The typical Bernese hotel attributed us a smelly room. We got there late and they accepted a change I made the same day and upgraded us into a bigger room for no extra charge we did not complain. Complaint would not have been worth it anyhow we realized as the entire hotel had this weird smell. We still got a rest although not a too good one as the extremely hot Swiss summer does not even spare mountain villages this year. The open window allowed us to confirm half-hourly that church bells do ring spot on the full and on the half hour.
Next morning we attacked our 2hours and 50minutes hike to the Kleine Scheidegg. We made it in less time. And you will too, the indicated times are usually large specially for an “easy” trail and I think they include large picnic stops.
We made it up to the Kleine Scheidegg, heavily sweated, to find ourselves disappointed. All the tickets for the rack railway to the Jungfrau Joch were sold out for that day and the following. And trust me, I had prepared well and also knew that the fun would cost a fortune (CHF 124 from the Kleine Scheidegg and back if you have no reduction or CHF 170.– from Wengen) but it never said that you had to make a reservation. I even have a flyer that pretends the contrary “no reservation needed if less than 10 persons in the group”. All the trains were full with mainly Japanese, a few Chinese and little Europeans. Well, I guess I prefer to have missed the ride myself instead of some tourist who has come from far away to enjoy one of the top Swiss sightseeing spots. I guess I will get another chance.
A lovely Swiss couple gave us a wonderful tip after seeing my desperation about having dragged my travel companions up to 2061m altitude from 1274m and not being able to go to our final destination. We followed their advise and after a well deserved meal and a beer we went down to Lauterbrunnen and up on the other side of the valley to the Schilthorn. A little less high (2970m) than the Jungfrau Joch (3454m), but the cable cars and the trains almost as expensive as not he other side. From the Schilthorn we had an amazing view on the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau with James Bond background music. As it happens one of the famous spy 007 movies was shot up there…but who remembers “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and George Lazenby, I don’t, sorry George.
There is always one good thing about a bad thing. We did not make it to the planned destination but discovered a different one and on the way to it I fell in love with the tiny car free chocolate box village of Mürren who will definitely see me back one day.