The Penthouse

We left Luzern this morning about 10am to travel first to Interlaken, where we change rail lines, to go on up to Lauterbrunnen. The rail line to Interlaken is the farthest Swiss Rail goes, after that, you buy a ticket on a private railroad, Berner Oberland Bahn.

“BOB” Berner Oberland Bahn

The trip from Luzern to Interlaken is about 2 hours and full of beautiful scenery. We gradually rose in elevation (my ears popped at one point) and the mountains that were a few thousand feet in height became 6-8,000′ with snow caps. On the lower elevations, you can see houses and barns spreading out above in the alpine meadows.

The train skirts alongside the Brienzersee, a large alpine glacial lake. Brienz is a summer resort. The Interegio train from Luzern stopped at a few small towns along the way before getting to Bregenz, then reversing and taking another track to Interlaken, which is the end station for this train.

We disembarked at Interlaken (Inter = “between” , laken =”lakes”), situated between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz) so we could 1) buy a ticket to Lauterbrunnen and 2) go across to the Coop to buy something for lunch. Interlaken is a good sized city, but there were a lot of tour busses waiting or arriving to pickup groups off the train. Fortunately our train to Lauterbrunnen was not full and it was only a 20 minute trip from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen. Summertime is busy tourist season for these small towns.

Our hotel is not too far from the train station. It’s great to be back in this small village.

Main Street Lauterbrunnen

We checked in with our B&B and chatted with the manager, who recognized us from prior stays. We discussed the room as she wanted to ensure we knew what it was. It’s the “penthouse ” (my term). Literally, the highest “up”grade available here. It’s the attic. No, I’m not kidding and we chose this; we’ve stayed up here before and it’s fine. You just have to watch your head clearance at times. It offers some unique views. The bakery is across the street. A few years ago when we were here and staying in the penthouse, the bakery caught fire. Fortunately the fire department is immediately behind it, but we got to watch the commotion, and the bakery didn’t burn down, so we had croissants the next morning.

View from the “penthouse “

We took a walk down “Main Street” which turns into a mostly one lane road and then a path as it leads you out of town, past Staubbach Falls, Camping Jungfrau and the farms that scatter across the valley floor. As you walk out of town, you’ll discover even more waterfalls, as the Lauterbrunnen valley is home to 70 some odd waterfalls depending on the snow melt. This year was apparently a heavy winter and late spring, with snowfall as late as May. Staubbach Falls in particular seems particularly voluminous in its water flow. In fact the entrance to go up behind the falls are closed, probably due to the amount of water coming down the cliff (the cave entrance comes from behind the waterfall about a third of the way up).

Staubbach Falls

Hiking further out the path, we’ll occasionally see or hear a helicopter. Helicopters deliver construction materials to otherwise inaccessible locations and there is a helicopter operations base on the other side of the river.

I hear a “Woo-hoo” behind me and turn around in time to see a paraglider landing in the field behind us, between the path and the river, having jumped off the cliff to our right. No thanks. But hang gliding is a popular sport here with several companies offering programs.

With the end of snowfalls, the flowers in the valley are beginning to burst out into bloom. The meadows are covered in dandelions, purple flowers and white and other wild flowers.

This farmer has his cowbells stored in his barn according to size.

What looks like the end of the valley ahead of us isn’t actually the end; you could walk quite a ways further. Trümmelbach Falls is located in the valley and we took a Post Bus out to tour it years ago.

The tallest of the two peaks ahead of us are ~12,400′.

We stopped for a “kaffee und kuchen” at Camping Jungfrau, which is actually a campground. You can pitch your own tents, use one of their cabins, or bring your travel trailer. There are a few permanent buildings here, like the restaurant, the store, office, etc. and probably the full time staff housing.

I’ll leave you with a few more photos of some of the beautiful flowering plants we encountered on our walk.

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