The Swiss Alps

Trip Start Jan 01, 2012
Trip End Jan 01, 2013

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Where I stayed
Hotel Staubbach Lauterbrunnen
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Switzerland  , Swiss Alps,
Saturday, June 2, 2012

Oh, where to begin....This trip was, by far, the most enjoyable experience we have had during our time in Europe.  When I was researching places to ski last winter, I ran across this car-free village in Switzerland called Murren.  Unfortunately, it was all booked up, plus skiing in Switzerland was a little out of our price range, so we ended up going to Austria.  However, my interest in Switzerland had peaked.  I read a few travel books about the area and decided we had to go in the summer.  I'm sure the area is beautiful covered in fresh powder, but everything would look the same:  white.  I penciled it in on the "Priority Travel" list I keep on the fridge. 

I booked the trip for the first weekend in June.  Ben had been at school for a couple months and we hadn't been able to travel anywhere, so I wanted this next one to be big.  I wanted to cross a major location off my list.  I had already decided on the location, I just had to decide on a hotel.  I wanted to book one in one of the car free villages for the unique atmosphere, but the reality of leaving the car on the valley floor and dragging all of our luggage, diapers, strollers, and kids up on the cable car then walking across the village to a hotel put quite a damper on the idea.

We ended up staying in Lauterbrunnen on the valley floor at Hotel Staubbach, and we are glad we did.  I had read about the hotel in trusty old Rick Steve's and when we looked at the website, we were sold.  The hotel was built in 1890 in the Victorian Style and had magnificant views of the Staubbach Waterfall.  The owners are an American from California and a Swiss woman who met while attending an international college in Spain.  The hotel had free breakfast and free parking.  I had contacted them previously and told them we would be arriving early in the morning, far before check in, and asked if we could park our car in the parking lot instead of paying to park it at the train station.  They kindly said "of course!" 

We hit the road Friday after work and drove 3/4 of the way.  We stayed at a flee bag hotel in Lyssach that cost around $120....the cheapest in the area!  Crazy! 
We left that hotel as soon as the sun came up and only had a little over an hour left before we got to Lauterbrunnen.  When we arrived at the hotel I went inside to let them know we were leaving our car there.  They asked what our plans were, so I told them of our hiking plans, and to our surprise, they offered us a hot breakfast from thier buffet.  After feuling up, we put Carson in the backpack, spent a few minutes petting the cows in the front yard, and headed to the train station.
We took a cable car 0.9 miles up the side of the mountain to Grutschalp in 4 minutes. From here we started hiking on a trail filled with wildflowers and mountain views.  All the way along the trail we could see the three famous mountains of the area: The Eiger, the Monk, and the Jungfrau.  The plan was to hike all the way to Murren.  It was 2.5 miles and categorized as "easy", meaning it was relatively flat.  After that we would take a funicular up to Allmendbuhel.  Of course that plan changed during the first 5 minutes when Maddox saw the choo-choo train that ran across the ridge.  He wanted to ride, but Ben and I wanted to hike.  He whined most of the way, but we ended up making it half way to Murren, then jumped on the train the rest of the way.  It was fun and it made the boys happy.

Murren is wonderful car-free town.  The views were amazing and I loved the fact that I didn't have to worry about the boys getting run over.  We bought the boys some hats, took pictures of the view, and found a couple mountain churches.  We didn't know if we were allowed in or not, but the door to one was unlocked, so we quickly peeked inside to take a picture.  After that we found the funicular to take us even further up the mountain.  We were surprised to find a little playground and restaurant at the top.  We spent several hours up there playing, relaxing, and eating the best ice cream we have ever had!  Carson fell asleep in the swing.  

There were many hiking trails down the mountain, but they were steeper than the one we had previously tried to hike.  We skipped the hiking because we knew the boys would never make it and took the funicular back down to Murren.  From there we walked to the other side of town where the cable car took us down to Gimmelwald and then over a sheer cliff back to the Lauterbrunnen Valley.  

Once on the valley floor the boys found a natural spring fountain and spent a lot of time playing in it.  We walked along the trail, past numerous waterfalls (there are 72 in the valley), back to the Hotel.  I think it took us around 2.5 hours to walk back, so Maddox and Carson were constantly switching between walking and being carried.  It took a lot of encouragement to keep Maddox going, but Carson did a pretty good job keeping up (probably because he was in the backpack most of the time saving his energy)

We got up early the next day and took a quick walk out to the waterfall next to the hotel called Staubbach Falls.  It is the second tallest waterfall in Switzerland, nearly 300 meters high.   In the summer, warm wind causes the water to swirl around and spray in all directions. The spraying water gave the waterfall it's name because Staub means dust.  We climbed the stairs to get to the cave that led us to the waterfall.  Madoox loved running through the tube in the cave, but was not happy when we got to a damp, slippery staircase that leads you behind the falls.  I held his hand and we carefully climbed the steps, while Ben went ahead to find out where stops.  It was a good thing we had rain jackets on because we would have been soaked.  When we made it to the end Maddox and I took a quick look around  and headed back down.  Ben took a few pictures and followed, carrying Carson in the backpack.  

After that, we loaded everything up in the car and started the 4 hour drive home (which turned in to 6 because of road construction!) 
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My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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