Switzerland, day 7

We left Zermatt after breakfast yesterday. (Related: I had Nutella with my toast. I know I can buy it back in the States but it just feels like I’m supposed to have it here with my espresso.)

The 2.5 hour trip was beautiful but extremely hot. My watch said it was 29 degrees Celsius outside but it felt much more extreme in the train. By the time we arrived in Zurich we were fading.

Outside the train, and the first time since our arrival in Switzerland, we jumped into a car and picked up a short ride to our hotel.. We just needed a little relief from the heat and our luggage felt 5x heavier than reality.

At the hotel we had an iced latte and sat in the shade overlooking the Limmat. By the time we finished our drinks we were refreshed and recharged. We grabbed our bathing suits, took a few towels from the hotel room and walked along the river until we came upon Seebad Enge.

The Seebad Enge is a cool spot with a few docks and a bar serving drinks and light snacks. We paid 16 swiss francs to get inside. It was a pretty busy scene but really fun as well. We met a nice young Swiss fellow who was enjoying his cigarette as he was sunbathing. He seemed happy we had a great visit to his country. He explained he just left his recent job and was taking 6 months off. He gave us a disapproving nod that our vacation was coming to an end so quickly.

We enjoyed the better part of the afternoon and early evening at the Seebad Enge. The water was super refreshing and it felt so good on such a hot day. I forgot I was wearing my Apple Watch but it seems to be working just fine.

Afterwards, we walked back to our hotel and changed for dinner. We had a delicious meal at Zunfthaus zur Zimmerleuten which is right along the river. After dinner, the heat finally broke so we went for our last walk all over this city, seemingly from one end to another. We talked about future plans and hopefully one day we can find a way to live in Europe for a few years.

We are heading back home today. I am so grateful we had this opportunity to celebrate our anniversary together.

Switzerland, day 6

It was not easy to leave Wengen yesterday. The Bernese Oberland region touched us deeply and we will always have a place in our heart for that part of the world. 

By early afternoon we arrived in Zermatt by train. I just love the trains in Switzerland. They are clean, on time and can bring you to so many places in this country. Like Wengen, cars are not permitted in Zermatt.  

Zermatt is a tourist destination even during this time of year which is their off season. I wouldn’t say it’s overflowing with people because that would be exaggerating but we were hoping it’s remote location and this time of year would thin the various tour groups that are also here. 

The best thing to do in Zermatt is take the train or tram out of the bustling tourist streets and up the mountain. We did that yesterday after checking into the hotel. It was easy and refreshing for our spirits. There were no crowds on the tram up the mountain. And we only spotted two people along our afternoon hike — a friendly Swiss couple from Geneva. 

The hike itself was peaceful and absolutely wonderful. We hiked over the pass and could see the Matterhorn in its full glory. The diverse hilly trail took us through grassy fields, a lush forest, rocky terrain and over some lingering snow banks. I shot twelve exposures which is an entire roll of medium format film. 

After our hike, we went back to the hotel to shower and change into clean clothes. We had a delicious dinner at Zermatterstübli. I devoured a plate of rösti with salad and tomato soup. And I had my second red Rivella of the trip. Lauren had the sausage and also a side order of rösti. I’m a vegetarian so I didn’t try her meal but the empty plate was a good sign. 

There are many more French and Italian speaking people in this part of Switzerland compared to the earlier places we experienced where people spoke Swiss German. And the number of languages the Swiss can speak is humbling. Lauren and I feel barely fluent in our native language and can hack our way through French. That is all we have. Meanwhile people here are speaking three languages or more with ease. Actually it’s not humbling, it’s embarrassing. 

This morning we are heading back to Zurich for one last night before our trip home. The week is flying by.

Switzerland, day 5

During breakfast yesterday (Wednesday) we still hadn’t decided what our day was going to look like. We were undecided if we were going to make the 1.5 hour train to Jungfrau or rent mountain bikes and explore the valley below. 

Just as we were leaning towards the bike ride idea, the owner of the hotel came over and introduced himself. During our conversation, he asked us about our plans. We told him we were still figuring it out. He was a big fan of a day trip to Jungfrau.

So with that, we took the train up to Jungfrau. It is about 11.6k feet above sea level and the train takes you all the way to the peak. The climb is so steep and fast the train makes three stops along the route just to make sure your body can transition properly. 

By the time we reached the last stop before the final destination (around 10k feet), I could see the altitude was having a significant impact on Lauren. But she wanted to continue. 

Twenty minutes or so later, we arrived at Jungfrau. Lauren was feeling very light headed and dizzy but still wanted to press on. So we walked very very slowly and deliberately finding our way outside to enjoy the vista. 

The view from the top was gorgeous. The snow covered Swiss Alps at that altitude and the valley below is incredible. However it is also a massive tourist destination — even during this off season. The trains were packed in both directions and moving around from the observation deck was challenging at times. After about an hour, Lauren really needed to get to a lower altitude so we left. Thankfully by the time we reached 9k feet, her health, color and comfort had returned.

We continued on the train past our stop at Wengen and made a visit to the town of Lauterbrunnen which is at the base of the valley. We had a quick but delicious late lunch outside at Flavours. After lunch we rented mountain bikes and had a wonderful ride around the valley floor. We saw at least 6 amazing waterfalls. Without a doubt that bike ride was a highlight of our trip so far. 

After returning the bikes, we took the train back to our hotel. The weather had cooled and we went for a nice walk around our little village. All along the way you could hear cowbells gently ringing in the surrounding fields. 

We couldn’t see the actual sunset but we saw the most amazing red/pink/purple reflection on the mountain’s face as the evening turned to night. 

This morning we are going to take the train to Zermatt. We are told most places will be closed during the off season and the weather forecast doesn’t look great. But we are both excited to make the trip and hopefully we can get a glimpse of the Matterhorn. 

Switzerland, day 4

The train from Lucerne to Wengen was unlike any other I have ever experienced. Previously Lauren thought she would take a nap and I half expected to read the latest Kinfolk issue in my backpack. But neither happened. For the entire trip we were fixated by the green fields, rivers, lakes and mountains that gave us quite a show as our train moved along from one town to the next. 

I tried to take a few photographs with my film camera on the train but it was challenging with the window/glare. The window did come down to leave a 6 inch opening at the top and Lauren captured this on her iPhone as we approached Wengen. 

The train station in Wengen is adorable as is the bright yellow train that brought us here when we made the transfer in Interlaken. When you depart the train in Wengen you are in the center of this little village at about 4.1k feet above sea level. The valley is below your feet and is stunning. Look up and you can see Jungfrau which I’ve been staring at seemingly non stop. As we crossed the little square we stumbled upon this outside cafe and had our espresso drinks and had an apple strudel. Our waiter was from England. He has been here 21 years and doesn’t plan to go back. 

Afterwards, we walked to our hotel. We checked in, dropped off our bags and went exploring. 

It is very much the off season here in Wengen. Many shops are closed as we are in between their popular ski season and the summer seasons. While it was a pure accident on our part, I’m happy to appreciate this place without the crowds. They don’t allow cars in this town. I love that.

It’s now just before 9am. Lauren is still asleep. I think we are going to try and rent bikes today after breakfast. 

I took this photograph with my iphone. It’s a view from our room just now as I write this post.