Archive for the ‘Switzerland’ Category

New Year in Switzerland

After a wonderful 10 days in the Netherlands I took the train to Switzerland, to celebrate New Year with Célia and her boyfriend, plus a group of her friends from her choir in Brussels. On the last day of 2015, we went for a walk – even if the weather was not really cooperating: fog, rain and sometimes sleet.

Hiking into the fog Not much of a view from the top...

We took a group photo on top, even if there was no view :D There was a restaurant near the top where we had a well deserved hot chocolate before returning the way we came.

Group photo on top Hiking back

In spite of the bad weather, it was quite pretty and atmospheric, and I think we all needed some fresh air :)

Nice atmosphere

In the evening we celebrated with lots of nice food, good music and even some dancing :) A great way to end 2015!

Tasty starters :) All the girls :)

The next day we planned to visit Creux du Van, an amazing place I had only visited in summer. This year there is so little snow in the area that the road to Creux du Van is opened all the way to the end.

When we woke up it was completely foggy, but while eating breakfast the fog started to lift and the sun broke through. We were all excited to go hiking :) Reaching the edge of Creux du Van, we saw a glory, Brocken Spectre and a fog bow on the fog below – amazing! We had a lot of fun playing with our shadows and declaring ourselves saints :)

Approaching Creux du Van Having fun with the glory / Brocken Spectre
This one shows quite well why it's called Brocken Spectre - spooky! Glory, Brocken Spectre and Fog bow - how to make a meteorologist very happy!

A photo of the choir girls, and a panorama showing Creux du Van filled with fog.

The choir girls at Creux du Van Panorama of fog-filled Creux du Van

Suddenly we could see the Alps very clearly on the horizon – so beautiful!

Suddenly we could see the Alps very clearly on the horizon - so beautiful! Creux du Van and the Alps
Katharina enjoying the view Such amazing views, we took so many photos!

We took so many photos! It was such a beautiful hike. Almost symbolic how we spent the last day of 2015 in the wet fog without any view, and the first day of 2016 in glorious sunshine above the fog – we all hoped it was a good sign for the year to come :)

In a way it was sad to see the lack of snow, but it did mean we got to enjoy those views Célia & Benoît

We walked to the cross at the top, to have an ever better view of the valley filled with fog, and the Alps on the horizon.

The cross on top Below the fog is the lake of Neuchâtel
The saint & the cross ;) Enjoying the views

Of course we had to take a group photo here too – a bit different from the one taken the day before :D

Célia took a photo of me :) Group photo

Nice views in all directions…

Another panorama What a great way to start 2016: fantastic hike with great people!
The highest mountain on the right is the Mont Blanc Fog in the valleys and flowing over the mountain tops

One last photo looking back at the Alps, before returning to the cars.

One last view looking back towards the Alps

What a great way to start 2016!! The only thing that “worries” me is that I might not beat this beautiful hike this year ;) but that won’t stop me from trying! Happy New Year everyone!

Across Switzerland in 45 Panoramas

It’s more than 6 months ago that I hiked the Alpine Pass Route. I’ve been planning to write a detailed blog post about the journey, but that is very time consuming (I’m a perfectionist when it comes to trip reports) so I never got around to it. Today I was looking through the photos, thinking it was such a waste that they’re only on my computer where nobody gets to see them, and that I should at least share some of them :)

This map shows the route, diagonally through Switzerland:

Map of my hiking trip through Switzerlands: From Sargans to Montreux

A short summary of the hike: I followed the route from the Cicerone Guide by Kev Reynolds – a fantastic book that I can’t recommend enough. To save weight, I brought only the eBook on my iPhone which worked really well. I used to find accommodation, usually only a day in advance. I hiked the route during the last two weeks of July, and never had a problem finding accommodation last minute. The Alpine Pass Route makes a complete east to west traverse of Switzerland, it covers 326 km, and crosses 16 passes. It can be done in 15 days. According to one hotel owner, the summer of 2014 was “the worst summer since 1956” and I had quite a few bad-weather days where I had to improvise. In the end I used 16 days: I spent one day waiting for better weather, and I also skipped two hiking days by taking public transport (both due to bad weather) and changed the route slightly near Lenk. It was a FANTASTIC experience, such a beautiful route! It was tough at times – some days are over 30 km and that is a lot when you add the height differences and the muddy-cow-dung paths in the equation. I was hiking on my own, which was usually not a problem – Switzerland is so well organised, the quality of signposting and the hiking paths is excellent.

Anyway, PHOTOS :)

Day 1: Very sunny, a beautiful day to start (very hot though). This is looking back to Sargans where I started that morning.

Looking back to Sargans where I started my journey

Day 2: Leaving the cheese farm in Vorsiez where I spent the night (amazing experience!), another beautiful, hot day.

Leaving the cheese farm in Vorsiez where I spent the night (amazing experience!), another beautiful, hot day.

Climbing up to the Foopass.

Climbing up to the Foopass

The first pass, the Foopass at 2223 m. Reaching a pass is wonderful, you suddenly have a totally different view into the next valley. The descend to Elm was long and exhausting, and I only just about reached the hotel before a thunderstorm arrived.

The Foopass, 2223 m

Day 3: cloudy but mostly dry. I hardly met anyone that day.

Climbing out of Elm

View from an unnamed saddle towards the Wichlenmatt Basin, with the Richetlipass in the distance.

View from an unnamed saddle towards the Wichlenmatt Basin, with the Richetlipass in the distance

Crossing the Wichlenmatt Basin.

Crossing the Wichlenmatt Basin

The Richetlipass, 2261 m. Another tough descent was waiting, more than 1700 m down to Linthal.

The Richetlipass, 2261 m. Another tough descent was waiting, more than 1700 m down to Linthal.

Day 4: rain and low clouds, so I took the bus over the Klausenpasss (1948 m). It didn’t look quite so bad there, so I hopped off the bus and hiked to Unterschächen. A very beautiful area that I’d love to return to in better weather!

View from the Klausenpass, 1948 m

Ascending to the fairy tale village of Äsch.

Descending to Äsch

I took a bus to my hotel in Seedorf. On day 5 all I did was walk to Attinghausen, where I took the cable car to Brüsti and spent the night at a mountain hostel there. It was raining heavily in the valley, and it was foggy higher up, but on day 6 the fog cleared away :) Yay, sunshine!

Leaving Brüsti, sunshine!

The hike from Brüsti to Engelberg was amazing, my favourite of the whole route. Beautiful views everywhere…

Great views, this was my favourite day of the route

The Surenenpass (2291 m), with two guys who were helping watch the cows. They showed me a large group of ibexes through their binoculars, they were on a ridge just above the pass – amazing!

The Surenenpass (2291 m), with two guys who were helping watch the cows. They showed me a large group of ibexes through their binoculars, they were on a ridge just above the pass - amazing!

Day 7: I woke up to a heavy thunderstorm. I waited for the weather to calm down a bit, and took the cable car up to the Jochpass. The guy selling me the ticket thought I was crazy for going up there in that weather ;) This is looking down towards Engelberg

Looking down towards Engelberg

And just to show that not every mountain pass is scenic, this is the Jochpass (2207 m) – basically a sad construction site ;)

The scenic Jochpass... sad place!

On the way down from the Jochpass to Engstlenalp.

On the way down from the Jochpass to Engstlenalp

The weather improved a lot after I passed Engstlenalp.

The weather improved a lot after I passed Engstlenalp.

Looking back towards the Jochpass.

Looking back towards the Jochpass.

Beautiful views! Towards the end of the day, thunderstorms were treatening again, but I reached the cable car station at Reuti just in time. I spent the night in Meiringen.

Beautiful views!

Day 8: my second-favourite day, hiking from Meiringen to Grindelwald – a beautiful and relatively easy hike.

A beautiful day for hiking from Meiringen to Grindelwald

The Reichenbach stream.

The Reichenbach stream.

Beautiful views!

Pretty views

Grosse Scheidegg (1962 m), time for ice cream!!

Grosse Scheidegg (1962 m), time for ice cream!!

Instead of descending to Grindelwald, I took the balcony path to First.

Instead of descending to Grindelwald, I took the balcony path to First.

With beautiful views of the Wetterhorn :) I spent the night in the mountain hostel at the gondola station, best view ever and great food!

Beautiful views of the Wetterhorn :)

Day 9, heavy rain again. I took the cable car down to Grindelwald, spent some time in the tourist office trying to work out what to do. In the end I admitted defeat, and I took the train to Lauterbrunnen, skipping a stage. The weather was still bad on day 10, but I took the cable car to Mürren and hoped for the best. It was mostly dry, but I walked in the clouds a lot that day.

Cloudy day on the hike from Mürren to Griesalp

I stopped for soup at the Rotstock cabin, before continuing my way to the pass.

Looking back towards the Rotstock cabin, somewhere in the clouds

The Sefinenfurke (2612 m), with no views at all. The descent from here is quite scary, with cables and steps and finally a slope full of loose shale/small rocks. I was glad there were quite a few other hikers around that day, so I had company at times. I spent the night in quite a special place in Griesalp, a small hotel with shared bathrooms, and no electricity in the rooms, but a 3 course dinner was included and there were alpaca’s next to the hotel :D

The Sefinenfurke (2612 m), with no views at all. The descent from here is quite scary, with cables and steps and finally a slope full of loose shale/small rocks.

Day 11 started sunny. A tough but beautiful climb to the next pass.

Leaving Griesalp

The Hohtürli (2778 m), the highest point on the whole route. The Dutch couple who I met in the hotel were waiting for me at the pass, and we walked down to Kandersteg together.

The Hohtürli (2778 m), the highest point on the whole route.

Looking towards the beautiful Oeschinensee. Not long after, it started to rain, and we were glad there was a cable car for the last bit :)

Looking towards the beautiful Oeschinensee.

Day 12, rain again. There were flood warnings out and there were placing sandbags in the village. It didn’t take much convincing by Marien and Ireen to join them by bus to Adelboden and from there by cable car to Engstligenalp where they had a hotel booked. They had a room for me too, and in the afternoon we walked around the plateau – a beautiful place!

The beautiful plateau at Engstligenalp

Day 13: rain, but I decided to hike to Lenk anyway. This is where I didn’t follow the book, but I ended up in the same place. To be honest, it was a miserable day. Seven hours in nonstop rain, without meeting anyone. The descent from the Ammertenpass (2443 m) was quite scary, I was very happy with the hiking pole that the Dutch couple let me borrow. Looking back at it, I shouldn’t have hiked that day – at least not alone.

Day 14: Fog. Sigh. I took the cable car to Leiterli, also because I wanted to see the “exciting tight-rope path among a mass of mini-(limestone)-craters” – which was very cool indeed!

The 'exciting tight-rope path among a mass of mini-(limestone)-craters' - which was very cool indeed!

The Trüttlisberg Pass (2038 m) was not the most exciting pass ;)

The Trüttlisberg Pass (2038 m) was not the most exciting pass ;)

Luckily, the weather improved :) I descended to Lauenen, and from there it was another climb to the Krinnen Pass (1659 m) and finally pretty Gsteig, where I stayed in a beautiful old hotel.

On the climb from Lauenen to the Krinnen Pass

Day 15: Nice weather, long day ahead (3 passes!!). First a steep climb to the Blattipass (1900 m).

Day 15 starts with a steep climb to the Blattipass (1900 m)

Beautiful views towards the Seeberg farm and the Arnensee below!

Beautiful views towards the Seeberg farm and the Arnensee below!

The wall is the boundary between Bern and Vaud, which meant I would be in French-speaking territory from now on.

The wall is the boundary between Bern and Vaud, which meant I would be in French-speaking territory from now on.

Col de Voré (1910 m), and lots of cows. And people ;)

Col de Voré (1910 m), and lots of cows. And people ;)

Leaving Col de Voré, climbing towards Col des Andérets (2034 m).

Leaving Col de Voré, climbing towards Col des Andérets (2034 m).

Thunderstorms were forming in the afternoon. I was very tired by the end of the day, and a kind gentleman gave me a lift for the last couple of kilometers to Col des Mosses – much appreciated! It was August 1, the Swiss national day, and I watched the fireworks and campfire near the hotel, before collapsing quite early.

Thunderstorms forming - luckily they didn't reach me

Day 16: I happily accepted an offer by the hotel owner to drop me 5 km along the road, which saved me an hour of relatively boring walking. The first part of the hike followed the shores of the artificial Lac d’Hongrin.

The first part of the hike on the final day followed the shores of the artificial Lac d'Hongrin.

The Hongrin Valley.

The Hongrin Valley.

Ascending to the final pass. It was very muddy here, and I fell over twice, getting quite frustrated.

Ascending to the final pass. It was very muddy here, and I fell over twice, getting quite frustrated.

But all is forgotten when you reach Col de Chaude (1621 m) and you can see the Lake of Geneva below…

But all is forgotten when you reach Col de Chaude (1621 m) and you can see the Lake of Geneva below...

I MADE IT!! :) :) :)

The Lake of Geneva, I MADE IT!! :)

What a journey! It was my first long-distance hiking trip, and I loved it :)

Rail Journey through Switzerland Part 3: Zermatt

Finally, the last part of my trip through Switzerland – more than a month after I came back :D.

We had a nice and relaxed train journey from Interlaken to Zermatt. The weather had changed completely, it was sunny and very warm. Our hotel in Zermatt was wonderful, we were warmly welcomed with a nice drink and we had  a beautiful room (with decorated wooden ceiling panels) with a perfect view of the Matterhorn.

The last time I was in Zermatt was Christmas 2006, when I went skiing with Paul (see here). It was fun to recognise places in a totally different season :D

Zermatt and the river - it's really fast and loud! The view from our beautiful hotel room

We went for a short walk just out of Zermatt, but it was really warm (28 degrees) so we quickly abandoned our uphill path and didn’t venture very far. Zermatt is car-free, but there are lots of electric vehicles buzzing around, most of them owned by the hotels. The small town is almost entirely based on tourism. It’s also a real mountaineering base, of course for the Matterhorn but there are many other mountains over 4000 m around Zermatt. I took lots of photos of the Matterhorn, it’s such an iconic mountain :)

I took quite a few photos of the Matterhorn from our hotel room and combined them into this one photo :) I love this iconic mountain, which looks different all the time! The view at night... beautiful

The next day we took the Gornergratbahn which goes up to 3089 m. This time we had no issues at all with the altitude, Zermatt itself is at 1600 m so we must have become accustomed. My dad managed to walk into a glass panel though – thinking it was an open door – so perhaps he was still kind of influenced by the altitude ;-) Luckily this time we actually had a good view from the top!

At the top of the Gornergrat Bahn The Gornergrat train station

It was quite a circus at the top station, everybody was posing for pictures in front of the Matterhorn, and in addition there was a professional photographer with a St Bernard dog… He had a Japanese assistant (very clever), who would hold a cardboard shield in front of any camera that was illegally taking a photo of the St Bernard portraits :D It was quite fun to watch all this ;-)

It was quite a circus at the station, with people posing for photos everywhere :D Some tourists made me giggle... I love people-watching in these kind of places

I love people-watching, playing “guess the nationality” and secretly taking photos of all the silly tourists ;)

Four old ladies on tour :) Can you guess the nationality? ;)

Including my dad of course, hehe.

Another crazy tourist posing for a photo ;) The Matterhorn reflected

There is a hotel/restaurant/observatory at the top, and great views of the Gorner Glacier.

The observatory at Gornergrat. I lost my dad just after taking this picture (can you find him?) He rushed inside to find wifi for his tablet :D Nice view over the Gorner glacier

Some more views of the glacier…

Gorner glacier and station Detail of the Gorner glacier

After a lot of searching, we finally spotted the new Monte Rosa Hut! It opened in 2010 and looks fantastic, a really modern building, with solar panels and its own water system. Inside it’s all wood :) I’d really love to visit! You have to cross the glacier to get there though, so I’ll have to find out how difficult this is.

Can you spot the Monte Rosa Hut? It took us a while to find it! It looks incredible, I'd really like to stay there one day

After enjoying the view (and the free wifi :D) we took the train back to Zermatt, but got out at the Riffelalp station, which is situated at 2200 m. We walked from there to Sunnega, 7.5 km away and only about 100 m higher. Though as my dad will stress: we went up and down a lot, so the height difference of “only” 100 m is a bit misleading ;)

View towards Zermatt after we got off the train at Riffelalp Starting off on our hike

It was a beautiful hike. The first part went through the forest, with lots of hollow trees. We also found some words of wisdom on a bench :)

A piece of wisdom on a bench. It says something like: take a break, forget your worries, enjoy - you don't know if you're still here tomorrow Hollow tree

My dad kept saying he felt like he was walking around in a model-train landscape, and sometimes it really does look exactly like that!

With views like this, I understood why my dad kept saying he felt like he was inside a model-train-landscape My dad catching his breath for a moment

Of course there were lots of flowers around to take photos of…

Beautiful little rock plant This flower was huge! Another very big and colourful flower

About halfway we came passed a restaurant, a very welcome break. My dad had tomato soup and I had a pancake with warm cherries and ice cream, mmmmmm… :)

Lovely views all the way! And that restaurant in the background provided a well-deserved lunch break Tomato soup for my dad, a pancake with cherries and ice cream for me :D

At some point we crossed a river that comes from the glacier. In some of the nearby shallow (and still) pools, we found lots of tadpoles!

Another pretty stop on our hike Crossing a river, in some of the shallow bits of water we found lots of tadpoles! Leftovers from the glacier (I assume) - it looks like it might tumble down any moment, but there was actually a dirtroad going up this slope!

The Grindjisee – famous for its reflections of the Matterhorn, but it was getting cloudier and the reflections weren’t very spectacular.

The Grindjisee The Matterhorn seen from the Grindjesee - famous for the reflections, but with all the clouds, the reflections weren't very spectacular

A break between the flowers :) and a very pretty lake further down.

Another short break between the flowers A small lake below - what an intense colour!

My dad was not so keen on the last part of the hike, where you had a relatively steep drop next to the narrow part. I didn’t even pay attention to it, but he was very relieved to reach the end of that path :D A little while later we reached Sunnega, from where we took an underground funicular railway back to Zermatt. What a nice day!

My dad told me later he found this path very scary, with the drop on the left... Relieved to have survived the scary path :D A final view of the Matterhorn from the Leisee, which was where our train departed back to Zermatt

The next morning it was time for a classic train trip: the Glacier Express from Zermatt to St. Moritz. A very beautiful train with big windows :)

The famous Glacier Express! Beautiful views, so nice to have such big windows on the train

It takes 7.5 hours and there is a lot to see on the way – spectacular bridges and loops, high passes… We really enjoyed it! Most people in our first class compartment were having lunch served at their place, but we only ordered a big piece of chocolate cake (we had brought our own lunch). The only down side of the Glacier Express is that none of the windows opens, with made it very hot at some point, and it also caused reflections in all the photos I took. The next day we backtracked along the most spectacular part on a regional train where the windows did open, so I got better photos the next day :) These two photos show the famous Landwasser viaduct, which is 65 m high!

One of the famous bridges along the way, but the reflections in the window kept spoiling my photos Same bridge, taken the next day from a train where the windows opened :)

We got to St. Moritz in the early evening, but we were surprised to find that everything (shops, supermarkets) etc had already closed. Oh well. The next morning we got up early and started our journey back to the Netherlands. I had been a bit scared about this last day, as it was going to be a 15 hour journey, but the views were so beautiful that time passed very quickly.

Beautiful views from the train. I opened the window and you could smell flowers and freshly mown grass, and feel the warm wind... so relaxing Our train passing another bridge... bye bye Switzerland, hope to be back soon!

Our trip went like clockwork all the way until the Dutch border – there we were thrown out of our train because of “technical problems” and we had to continue by regional trains with a few changes. We finally made it back home at midnight…

What a journey! I enjoyed this week in Switzerland a LOT and I am so happy my dad and I had the opportunity to go on this trip. I also rediscovered how much I love Switzerland, and I hope to come back soon :)

Rail Journey through Switzerland Part 2: Interlaken

After a relaxing trip from Luzern, the day wasn’t over. We decided to take the funicular (Harderbahn) from Interlaken up to Harder Kulm. It’s a fast, but very steep ride up. Unfortunately the rain had come back and we were in the clouds at the top station. We had been quite optimistic and didn’t bring any rain gear, but we walked to the restaurant anyway (5 minutes from the top station).

The restaurant at Harder Kulm Hmmm, nice view! At least the sign tells us what we're missing ;)

There wasn’t much of a view, so we had a cup of tea/coffee in the restaurant while hoping it would improve. The clouds did lift every now and then, giving a nice view of Interlaken, Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. We thought of walking down instead of taking the funicular, but decided it wasn’t such a good idea without any waterproof gear.

A lone woman on the observation deck Hurray, the clouds lifted for a moment and we had a view of Interlaken!

The next day it was time for our big excursion to the Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in Europe at 3454 m! It was disappointing to wake up to clouds and rain again, but nothing we could do about it. This is the big disadvantage of being on a tight schedule, and unable to postpone this trip to the next day. We got up early, and departed for Grindelwald.

A very cloudy day, even the river made its own cloud :) Destination: Grindelwald

Grindelwald is a very special place for me, I stayed at the youth hostel there during two summers and thought it was paradise on earth ;) The youth hostel is located higher up the hill, overlooking the valley and the impressive mountains, and I went on some really nice walks from there. It was strange to be back and only change trains, especially since the area around the train station is very touristy – filled with souvenir shops and huge groups of Japanese tourists – not the Grindelwald that I remembered ;)

My dad laughing at the Japanese tourists - some were dressed in high heels and elegant clothes, while others were wearing shorts with long johns underneath :D You feel almost out of place as a white person here... nearly all of the train compartments were reserved by Japanese tour groups!

We continued to Kleine Scheidegg, and at some point we came out of the clouds and had a view :) Actually we had come into a layer in between the lower and the higher clouds, which didn’t promise much for the view from the top station, but we stayed optimistic :) At Kleine Scheidegg we changed onto the final train line which soon enters a tunnel (with 2 stops to look at the view from windows built in the tunnel wall) that took us to the top station.

Nice views when the train came out of the cloud layer One of the tunnel stops. The lowest one did give us a view, but the higher one was in the clouds

I had been up to Jungfraujoch once before, and tried to prepare my dad for the possibility of feeling funny because of the high altitude. The last time I was here, I came from Grindelwald (at 1000 m), where I had already been for a couple of days, and I only had mild symptoms while running up a flight of stairs. This time we came straight up from Interlaken at 500 m, and were not acclimatized at all. We both were soon hit by the strange feeling – lightheaded, dizzy, racing heart – it’s quite scary actually, especially if you have never experienced it before. We found some seats and took it easy for a while – making sure to drink plenty of water. After a while, I convinced my dad to come for a walk around the station. There is a 1 km long tunnel which partly goes through the glacier – quite spectacular! We took it really easy, walking slowly, and stopping whenever the symptoms came back.

Inside the glacier! My dad with his new toy, he bought a tablet just before the trip and became inseparable from it ;) The tunnel through the ice - looks almost like a slide here, but of course it was (almost) flat here

You could see the layers of the glacier quite nicely in the walls of the tunnel. They had also made some ice sculptures here, and there was an exhibition about the building of the train line up to Jungfraubahn, which is quite incredible – they started building it in 1896!

A layer of small rocks in the glacier A rare photo of me :)

Halfway through the tunnel walk, there is a lift that takes you up another 120 m to the Sphinx Observatory which has a viewing platform. My dad was not feeling well, so I didn’t want to risk taking him even higher up. After completing our walk around the station, he went to sit and play with his tablet (they have free wireless internet – crazy!) while I walked back to the lift. I soon found out that I shouldn’t walk too fast either though… but taking the lift up was not a problem at all. It was nice to get some fresh air, and FRESH it was – it was a few degrees below freezing here. Not much of a view though ;)

The Sphinx Observatory - it has a nice dome on top but even that was invisible in the clouds Look at the layer of ice growing underneath the information sign!!

Part of the platform was closed due to icefall – and occasionally ice rained down onto the part that was open as well. It was very windy, and very cold… I didn’t last very long out there! It was impressive to see the ice that was growing on the fence… I wonder how it can move so neatly without breaking off?

Ice growing on the fence - how come it's so neatly out of sync with the fence? Detail of ice on the fence

We decided it was time to leave, and even while walking to the train my heart started racing so fast I thought I might actually need medical help – really scary. I’m not sure why it was affecting us so badly this time, but seems like you never know how you will react. Last time I was here, the building was full of signs warning you to walk slowly and not run up the stairs. Now there was nothing! I find that strange, because not everybody knows that this can happen, my dad had never even heard of altitude sickness, and then you’d be extremely worried if you suddenly feel so ill.

Anyway… it was all easily solved by getting on the train and descending more than a 1000 meters :) We got off at the Eigergletscher station, just outside the tunnel, and decided to walk to Wengernalp, two stations away. I was amazed my dad was up for it, as it would take at least 2 hours (all downhill though) and we were started off on a tiny path straight into the clouds, with hardly any visibility :D

Starting our hike, on a small path following a ridge near the glacier Sometimes the clouds would lift and suddenly we could see around us - the building is the station we started walking from

The hike was actually really beautiful and the clouds added to the atmosphere. We met 2 people close to our starting point, after that we didn’t see anybody. The path was easy to follow, and the abundance of wildflowers was just amazing…

A pretty flower SO many flowers... one of the reasons I love hiking in Switzerland

Suddenly we heard a loud BANG and when we looked around to find where it was coming from, we saw a piece of the glacier tumbling down the cliff. Wow! There was no danger, as we were nowhere near it, and it was impressive to watch the forces of nature at work. I almost forgot to take photos until my dad nudged me :D

Suddenly we heard a big BANG, and when we looked around, we saw a piece of the glacier tumbling down the cliff - luckily far away from us Impressive to see the force of nature...

On and on we went, in and out of the clouds…

My dad walking off into the mist Funny flower decorated in raindrops

We found this “nest” of caterpillars, and so many wildflowers that it almost seems unreal.

Lots of caterpillars! Flowers everywhere...

At some point we saw a helicopter flying around in the thick mist, carrying buckets of concrete from a working area lower down. I just hope he had more visibility than we did!

Entering the forest Helicopter flying in the mist

We even came across this Alpine Salamander. Don’t think I’ve ever seen a salamander before! They look like a lizard, but their skin is slimy like a frog’s. It sat so still we thought it might be dead, but sometimes it made small movements. According to wikipedia, they are very stationary and apparently only move up to 12 m during a whole summer – so perhaps it’s still sitting on the same rock?? :D

Beautiful cornflower An Alpine Salamander!

Suddenly our little path was blocked by a HELICOPTER! Yes, the very same one that we saw flying around. They were building a new skilift here, and we had to take a small deviation from the path to get around the work area.

One of the many signs on the path, it's hard to get lost in Switzerland Suddenly our path was blocked by a HELICOPTER

We had been hearing cow bells all the time, and finally we came across a group of cows :) The farmers were trying to move them to the farm, by singing to them :D

Hello cow! All the cows in Switzerland wear bells and you can hear them from far away

Pretty raindrops…

Raindrops on the grass.. quite pretty! Rain drops inside a lupine plant

The drizzle and mist had now turned to heavier rain, and we were happy when we reached our destination: Wengernalp station. It had a comfortable waiting room to wait for the train down to Lauterbrunnen. We had a well-deserved big plate of pasta in Lauterbrunnen, before returning to Interlaken.

At Wegernalp, waiting for our train to Lauterbrunnen There it is! You can clearly see the cogwheel track in the middle of the regular tracks here

The next morning we woke up to a sunny and warm day :) Our hotel in Interlaken was in the ugliest building in town, a big concrete tower block. This photo was taken on the day we arrived, but the panorama showed the view on the morning we left – it might be an ugly building but it sure has the best view in town! The field in the middle is used as a landing place for the many paragliders – some passed by very close to our balcony!

Our hotel was in the ugliest building in Interlaken (at least the outside) But I am pretty sure it had the very best view!

Look at this view of the Jungfraujoch, if only we could have gone a day later… Still, I actually really enjoyed our day in the clouds! The second photo is taken from outside the train station at Spiez, where we changed trains on our way to Zermatt.

Jungfraujoch seen from the hotel... if only we could have gone a day later! View from outside Spiez train station, where we waited for our train towards Zermatt

But Zermatt will be featured in part 3, I think this blog post is long enough now :D