We spent the majority of our weekend in Lauterbrunnen and the Lauterbrunnen Valley. It’s in the Jungfrau region of Switzerland as it sits under the Jungfrau mountain in the Alps. The valley is known as the Valley of 72 Waterfalls and given that you are greeted with a view of the Staubbach waterfall as you approach the village, it doesn’t take long to understand why. While I’m sure we only saw a small fraction of those 72 waterfalls, you truly do see them everywhere in the valley.
The area is also J.R.R. Tolkein’s inspiration for Rivendell (which, for non-nerds is the place where all the elves lived in Lord of the Rings). Even though it was cloudy and rainy throughout the weekend, there was something absolutely magical about the valley. Even the thin layer of clouds that covered the area made the valley seem a bit surreal.
It took about three hours of train rides to get to Lauterbrunnen from Basel. We had to change trains twice along the way. We had no complaints about the trip, though. The view from the train was beautiful. We even spent a long time riding along Lake Thun, which inspired our side trip on the way back. Entering the area was truly magical in many ways. Yes, the area was pretty, but also it was about 30 degrees cooler than it was in Basel. We actually had to pack jackets and it was the first time since we got here that either of us wore jeans.
We checked into our hostel (Valley Hostel) before deciding to start searching for our waterfalls. I chose this hostel because several blogs called it the most beautiful hostel in the world. The views we had from our room were a bit spectacular, so I can’t blame them. You could even see Staubbach Falls from the bed.
Staubbach Falls was, of course, the first of the waterfalls that we wanted to explore. It’s the most prominent from the village and the closest. We walked along the main road of Lauterbrunnen to the outskirts of the village to get a better look. Once there, we noticed that people were climbing into the mountain a little to get a view of the waterfalls from the other side.
It wasn’t really that high at the end of the day, but it was still a bit of a climb. You climb up the stairs of the hill first, and then cross a creepy tunnel, before climbing up wet stairs to make it to the top. Once you make it to the top, though, you get an view of the village below you and even though we were sweaty and gross from climbing up the stairs, the view was worth it.
After we did Staubbach Falls, we made our way over to Stechelburg to take the cable cars up the mountain to Mürren. I’ll write more about our trip up the mountain in a separate post, but we had a lot of fun up in the mountain even though it was too cloudy this weekend to make the trip up to Schilthorn worth it.
The best thing about being in a much colder environment is that we finally felt like it was an appropriate time to get our first taste of fondue this trip. We went to Restaurant Oberlander for that. This is the third time I’ve had fondue in Switzerland and the experience has been a little different each time. This time, we got garlic, onions, chives, and mushrooms (ew) to add to the fondue. Chris ended up dipping the mushrooms into the cheese since I wanted nothing to do with them. True to my form, I put way too much garlic in mine. At least we knew we wouldn’t be approached by vampires overnight.
We went to bed pretty early, in part because of all the hiking and in part because we wanted to get up early to either chase more waterfalls or have the James Bond themed brunch they offered at the top of Schilthorn. They also have a James Bond museum up there because one of the movies was filmed up there, but the primary driver of that trip would have to be the view from the top. Unfortunately, while we loved our view from the window in the morning, it was still cloudy and the video footage from Schilthorn was all gray on Sunday morning.
So we stuck with our plan B, which was to continue chasing the waterfalls of Lauterbrunnen. This time, we went to Trümmelbach Falls, which is a series of 10 underground glacial waterfalls, actually the biggest accessible underground waterfalls in Europe. The tickets to get in are 11 francs and it is cash only(although they also take USD). We thought initially, it’d be a little too pricey to see some waterfalls, but it’s well worth the admission.
You can either walk up the mountain to see all the waterfalls or take the elevator. We opted for the elevator. This turned out to be a wise chose because there’s a lot of climbing even with the elevator, there is a lot of climbing. It should also be noted that while you can take the elevator up, you do have to climb back down the stairs. Pictures don’t quite do Trümmelbach Falls justice, but it’s quite an experience to be climbing up and down a mountain next to the deafening sounds of waterfalls.
It gets crowded because it’s a popular local POI, so we ran up to the top and made our way down. It helped us bypass the crowd that came up with our elevator and make it up just in time for the crowds from the previous elevator to disperse. It also helped that we were there right around the time that the site opened. Even when we were leaving, the line to get into the area was long. Five points for #teamcralea
My favorite waterfall was the last one they showcase: the corkscrew fall. It falls in several directions as a corkscrew would. This, of course, is something you can’t experience in a picture, but I’m going to have to show you anyway.
Now, we were going to walk back to Lauterbrunnen village from the falls. It’s a relatively short hike and you get to feel like hobbits given that it’s Rivendell and all. Unfortunately, our legs were a little shaky from the walking on Saturday and all the stairs from Trümmelbach Falls, so we decided to wait for the bus back. This probably was for the best because it started raining on our way back.
Given the rain, the fact that it was far too cloudy to take cable cars into the mountain, and the fact that we were not physically or mentally prepared to do the cliff hiking at Via Ferrata in Gimmelwald, we decided to cut our trip a little short and explore some of the sights on the way back to Basel instead. We were kind of in love with the area, so we’re going to have to come back when there are sunnier skies.