Trip 39, Day 9
The travel to the Lauterbrunnen valley from Vienna was long. We left Vienna in a NightJet sleeper about 9:30pm. We had a 6 couchette compartment that was limited to just the two of us, so we had some more room – at least we didn’t have to compete for a place to store luggage or, as has happened in the past, slept with our luggage. The fact that there were two of us in a six couchette setup didn’t mean the couchettes were any bigger or spaced farther apart. It did mean we didn’t have to be concerned about other people coming in/out during the night and it was probably cooler. We stopped several times during the night, once in Salzburg for a good while. But sometime after midnight I don’t think we stopped as often.
I really couldn’t ever sleep for long, the couchette is not much wider than you are, not a lot of clearance above you, and hard. But we chose this method of transiting so that we would use fewer daylight hours traveling from Zurich to Lauterbrunnen
We arrived in Zurich about 8:20am and had enough time to get a little something to eat before our train out to to Bern at 10:20am , where we changed again to go on to Interlaken OST (East). In Interlaken, you have to buy a different train ticket (even if you have a Eurail Pass), because it’s a private rail system. When we first started coming here, you had to go into the ticket office in Interlaken, take a number, stand in a long line ; now, automated ticketing for most common things. We left Interlaken OST about 12:30 and by 1:00pm we arrived in Lauterbrunnen. Leaving Zurich and on to Bern, the sky was mostly cloudy, but no rain. As we moved up in elevation, the clouds covered the tops of the mountains, but down below, it was a pretty day with lots of sunshine and in the mid 60’s.
Lauterbrunnen is a small village with one main road through town and our hotel is located along that road, so it’s trudging uphill from the station and then down the road to our hotel, about a 15 minute walk. The street is no more busy than usual, with hikers and off-road cyclists mixed in with the locals and just plain tourists like us. Small hotels and restaurants dot the roadside. Check in at the hotel we’ve used for many years and rest a bit before heading out to the COOP (grocery store chain) to buy something for lunch/dinner.
After dinner we’re going for a walk that takes us out of town. As we walk down the two lane road, the church is on the left and just a bit further is the cemetery. Permanent residents are limited to those from villages in the Valley. Just across from the cemetery on the right is the entrance to Staubbach Falls. In the summer, the falls are open until 7 and you can walk up the path and behind the falls itself.
This is the largest falls in the valley but the water volume is certainly diminished compared to some years we’ve seen. I don’t know what their winter was like in terms of snow but all of the falls in the valley, as is the Lutschine river that runs through the village, are fed by glacier and snow melt.
Walking further, the road is bounded on both sides by farms with large pastures and there’s a farm that set up a cheese vending machine (no cheese today).
Camping Jungfrau is a large, permanent, campground. It’s open year round, with a mix of small cabins and spaces for tents and RVs; we’ve even seen tour buses here. They have a restaurant and store. It’s pretty busy at the moment.
This time of day the parasailors and base jumpers are often floating down from their leap off the side of a mountain 😳 and one descends quite near us. Within a couple of minutes, we see him with his flying squirrel gear gathered together calling to be picked up.
But just a half mile down the road, two more are coming down and we can hear the sound of their chutes and watch as they maneuver to avoid landing on one of the nearby houses. As beautiful as it must be, so many have lost their lives paragliding and base jumping.
We turned around for a view of the path we’ve taken so far (the road goes on through the valley) as the sunset starts to take hold, before heading back.