Let me start by apologising for my prolonged absence from my beloved WP community. Sure, I have replied to comments and even stalked my favourite sites from time to time, but for the most part, it might have appeared that I’d slipped into premature hibernation.
Alas, I have just been travelling! Unlike my previous travels, this trip was a keenly anticipated affair involving some of the most secluded destinations and maiden experiences in Finland, Iceland, Denmark (yes, again!) and Switzerland. Travelling never ceases to have the power to amaze or bedazzle, and over the coming months, I hope to share my journeys and disseminate the travel bug near and afar.
On my final leg, I spent 9 days in Switzerland soaking up the glorious Swiss Alps and its labyrinth of lakes and villages. Switzerland’s crippling cost of living may have deterred the budget conscious (myself included, although hiking on a restricted diet is a sure-fire way to lose those stubborn kilos), the country has decidedly won me over with its jaw-dropping landscapes and vibrant urban culture.
Located in the Swiss Jungfrau region and sandwiched between Lake Brienz to the east and Lake Thun to the west, Interlaken – literally meaning between lakes – is geographically blessed and easily topped my list of “must-see” Swiss destinations. Many will also attest to Interlaken’s strategic connectivity to some of the most iconic Swiss hiking trails and undulating alpine villages. Most of the sites are accessible by car, but the Swiss trains, funiculars and mountain railway networks are meticulously planned and offer an unbeatable travel experience.
Whilst a separate blog post will be dedicated to Interlaken shortly, here are my Top 5 recommendations within a stone’s throw of the town.
Lauterbrunnen, the valley of “Many Fountains”, is arguably the most picturesque in the Jungfrau region. A breezy 20-minute train ride from Interlaken, its very name alludes to the proliferation of thundering waterfalls (all 72 of them). The Staubbach Falls is perhaps the most Instagrammed, creating a dramatic backdrop to showcase Lauterbrunnen’s gigantic rock faces and traditional wooden alpine houses.
From Lauterbrunnen station, I decided to hike the (relatively) flat terrain in the Lauterbrunnen valley along the Stechelberg bus route. My lazy tendencies set in after a while and I hopped on the next yellow Stechelberg bus that rolled along. The legitimate reason, of course, is that the supposed 1.5 hour hike would have taken until midnight with a camera clicking in overdrive. The bus leads to the Gimmelwald gondola (terminal stop), where, after 5 spellbinding minutes, the village of Gimmelwald awaits.
Compared to its better known cousin, Grindelwald, Gimmelwald is an unpolished gem hidden in the Swiss Alps. With an elevation of ~1,367m, the traffic-free village is perched casually on the edge of a cliff. At first blush, the village seems to be overrun by mountain goats and alpine horses and cows…
But with vistas like these you soon learn why they are in no hurry to give up the place they call home.
(Taken at different locations, these two combined to create an uncanny photo jigsaw!)