Cities / Towns Visited: 21
Countries Visited: 8
Steps Taken Today: 8,515
Steps Taken Around the World: 903,385
What has eight legs and isn’t a spider? Our trip to Mürren of course, the small mountain village in the Bernese Oberlands. Now some places really do take a bit of work to get to, but we’ve never been ones to shy away from a challenge. With this in mind, we packed away our things once more, and trudged our way to the train station, hopping on a train to Montreux. One leg down.
Now, it must be said, that we had intended to take the Golden Pass train from Montreux to Interlaken, however, as our bad luck with scenic trains continued, they were carrying out works on a section, therefore what should be two trains, would now be a train, a bus, then another two trains. The only benefit of this inconvenience being that because of the works, we wouldn’t have to pay the usual reservation fee, and thus the trip was covered by our Eurail pass at no extra cost. Silver linings I guess. As the next four legs progressed we were treated, once again, by the stunning scenery which this landlocked and mountainous country has to offer. Mist shrouding the peaks, clear azure rivers carving their way through the valleys, and thick pine forests blanketing the slopes.
Eventually we reached Interlaken, but the adventure was far from over. Purchasing a ticket for the rest of the journey, we hopped onto our fifth and final train for the day, taking the half hour trip to Lauterbrunnen. We quickly disembarked, and barely had a second to drink in the fresh alpine air before we were back on another bus, heading for Stechelberg, the small town at the foot of the mountains. We alighted at the cable car station, taking a little time to admire the waterfalls raining down the sheer rock faces of the peaks, as the warmth of spring melted the snow at the summits. With thick cloud obscuring all visibility of the mountain tops it was as if the water were falling from some unknown abyss. As we tumbled onto the cable car, it was somewhat daunting to acknowledge that you indeed had no idea where you were headed, and with that said, we took off into the clouds, not knowing what we would find on the other side. We made a quick change to another cable car at Gimmelwald, which took as across to its neighbouring station. Finally, after 5 trains, 2 buses, and a cable car (two if you want to split hairs), we were finally here. Our eight legged journey was almost at completion.
As we stepped out of the station, it was as if we had wandered onto the set of Silent Hill, or The Shining. An eerie mist hung in the air, leaving but 10 feet of sight, before everything else was consumed by the whiteness. It was the off season, advantageous to us, as the prices were a little lower, and we weren’t being overrun by skiers and holidaymakers; but as a result, not a single person stirred in the streets. It were as if we were the last people on earth, and at points like that your brain begins to prepare for the seemingly imminent attack of some horror movie inspired creature to slither from the mist and swallow you up.
It was with a quick sigh of relief that we reached our accommodation, although upon first entering there was seemingly no one there either, but a ring of the doorbell and a little patience brought us face to face with another human being. After unshouldering the burden of our luggage we ventured back out to try one of the only three restaurants which were still open at this time of year. Intelligently selecting the one we had passed on our way to the hotel, as we didn’t fancy our chances of finding others in the mist, nor did we feel like playing a literal version of blind man’s bluff.
As we walked in we were greeted with enthusiasm and a smile. Ordering our food we were delivered a small bag of fresh local bread, and a jar of fresh alpine cheese (think soft cream cheese) with herbs. It’s the little things, and it probably cost them very little, but this tiny gesture made our hearts sing. After the abrupt and unwelcoming hospitality of Zermatt, it felt like coming home. once we had devoured our lamb shank, and alpine stew, along with a couple of local schnapps, we meandered back through the endless whiteness to our beds.
Tomorrow we would once more brave a trip up a mountain, but our hope had returned and I dozed with faith that tomorrow would continue to live up to the fine example Mürren had set so far. That’s the difference with tight knit villages, as oppose to holiday metropolises like Zermatt, they are thankful for your custom, and doubly so when business is slow. They are friendly and welcoming because they understand your visit is what sustains them; they have not been disillusioned by the endless barrage of tourists, and the money and financial security that comes with them. It’s the small town mentality, and the good old fashioned country hospitality, that gives places like Mürren a special spot in my heart. This place had already helped start to heal the open wound of our limp Swiss adventure to date. Simply sleeping here, was costing our entire budget, but the difference was, we held no resentment thus far. Its amazing how much money you are willing to spend when you are made to feel worthy and appreciated. May the mountain hold true to the groundwork laid out on this day.