Tuesday, September 26, 2006 - Lucerne to Mürren, Switzerland
This morning we went down to the self-proclaimed "rich breakfast buffet" to have the worst breakfast of our vacation. They didn't even have any salami out (Can you believe?), but instead had a tray of some sort of horrible-looking cold-cut pickle loaf. I didn't know I'd miss salami for breakfast until I saw the alternative! The coffee was super strong. Tom and Brian hated it, but I thought it was fine. The breakfast room was very loud, and the staff was surly.
Jesuitenkirche, on the Reuss River
There was no rush to get on the road today since we had only a short drive to our next destination, so we decided to stroll around Lucerne's old town again now that it's light. A lovely vegetable and flower market was in full swing along both sides of the river.
We walked across the covered bridges, the Kapellbrücke and the Spreuerbrücke, and got some good photos, but there were so many tourists, it was really more enjoyable last night in the dark and drizzle. Lake Lucerne was beautiful with the Alps in the background.
A wonderfully scenic road brought us to the Jungfrau Region, at the heart of the Bernese Oberland, the most dramatically scenic area on earth, and probably the universe. On the drive from Lucerne, we passed fantastic waterfalls, gorgeous Alpen lakes, called sees, and lovely green meadows. It's very cloudy today, and the Alps are obscured, but it's still a beautiful drive.
Our hotel the next two nights is in Mürren, population 450, a traffic-free village accessible by cable car from Lauterbrunnen or Stechelberg. Mürren is the highest altitude resort in the Bernese Oberland. At the Schilthornbahn cable-car station in Stechelberg, Tom obtained a time table for the lift, but since it was so cloudy that the Alps were invisible, we decided to explore the Lauterbrunnen Valley before going up.
Trümmelbachfälle is a series of ten powerful glacial waterfalls inside a mountain. The water drains from the snow and glaciers on the Holy Trinity of mountains in this region, the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. The total drainage area for Trümmelbach Falls is 24 square kilometers. As many as 20,000 liters of water per second forces its way over the falls.
For CHF 11, you can ride an incline elevator up into the mountain and climb through several dimly lit crevasses to view the thundering water shooting and corkscrewing downward until it bursts out of the mountain into the valley below. Photos can't capture the roar of the water or the chill in the air, nor do they do justice to the scene visually, but we did what we could. This is a great excursion, especially on a gloomy day.
Another of the Trümmelbach Falls
Not surprisingly with the size of the surrounding Alps, there are waterfalls visible virtually everywhere you look in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Another especially good one is the well-known Staubbachfäll, a 300-meter (yes, METER) waterfall that's the first thing you see when you enter Lauterbrunnen.
We hadn't eaten anything since the substandard breakfast in Lucerne, so we tried to get a meal in Lauterbrunnen at about 4:00 p.m. Alas, it was too late for lunch and too early for supper, and nothing was open. So with empty bellies, we drove back to Stechelberg and caught the next cable car to Mürren. A round-trip lift ticket between Stechelberg and Mürren is CHF 30.40 each.
Stechelberg from the cable car
The elevation in Stechelberg on the valley floor is 807 meters. Mürren lies at 1650 meters. That's over a mile high in American. On the way up you change cable cars in Gimmelwald (1367 meters). It would have been a great view if we could see it, but the gondola was in the clouds once it left the valley floor, and it was raining on and off. We couldn't see a thing. Once in Mürren, it's a wonder we found our hotel. I could barely see my hand in front of my face. We're lucky we didn't walk off a cliff!
We checked in to the Jungfrau Hotel, for which we paid $80 per person per night (with breakfast). I'd paid in advance from the U.S. in dollars. Brian had his own room, and Tom and I shared one room, but since the charge was per person, our room cost twice as much! At least ours was a little nicer. Tom and I had a balcony, but it was about the smallest balcony ever. Two people at a time could stand out there comfortably. All three of us could fit if we squished together. Brian's room was across the hall, and there were cows in the field under his window wearing those big LOUD Swiss cowbells. They sounded like they were actually IN his room. The Jungfrau is a nice hotel, but we ain't used to paying these resort prices. It probably costs twice as much during ski season.
Typial Swiss cow, with her freakishly loud bell
It was still a few minutes before the hotel restaurant opened, so we drank a bottle of wine before we went down for a decent but uninspiring meal. At CHF 169 ($135) for an unexceptional dinner for three, we made plans tomorrow to eat elsewhere. After this dreary weather day, we're sure hoping for some clear views of the Alps tomorrow.
Tom left some of his luggage in the car in Stechelberg, thinking he wouldn't need everything. Somehow we missed out on the "free luggage transfer from Stechelberg to Mürren," so we had to haul our luggage with us on the cable cars. Unfortunately for Tom, he brought up his dirty clothes instead of his clean clothes. Ha!!! He did some laundry in the sink and it worked out all right, but ha!!!
Tom's stiff-as-board, radiator-dried sock
Please, please, please, please, please, we want a clear day tomorrow for some magnificent views.
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