Beatenberg: Alp’s Best – Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau Mountains

With summer right around the corner, everyone drags maps out of drawers and laments the rising gas prices. America is a spacious land with spectacular sights found nowhere else in the world, but it takes so darn long to get there.

In my “petite” country, grand vistas awaits, literally, right around the next corner. After a mere two hour drive, we are in the German speaking, Bernese Oberland, with lush green valleys speckled with amber and gold flowers and imposing, stark, white mountain peeks.

 

Switzerland is well known for out of the way, picturesque mountain villages that look postcard perfect. Beatenberg, at 1,200-meter altitude, offering a ringside view of Bernese Alps, is one of these.

a view to remember

a view to remember

 

Lined with chalets and restored turn of the century hotels, the town clings to the steppe beneath the Niedhorn mountain and braves harsh winter winds; however, villagers are rewarded with an incredible spectacle – the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. Weather « beaten » and forlorn, Beaten berg  (German for town) aptly reflects it name.

 

the Eiger North Wall in the evening clouds

the Eiger North Wall in the evening clouds

 

It lurches on the cliff’s edge above Lake Thun. From our hotel window, we admire the matchbox cars winding around the mountainside and toy sailboats floating on the blue-green lake below. Red-roofed villages line the lake surrounded by evergreen forests, then steep chalky cliffs. At the uppermost level, the snow-covered peaks of the “three kings” reigned majestically.

Popular in 1900s during the Belle Époque, Beatenberg’s hotels once catered to aristocrats. Today, the village of just over a thousand inhabitants is no longer considered chic and trendy; however, it appeals to nature lovers, hikers, bikers and families wanting to get away from it all.

We strolled down the single road into and out of town. Sheep grazed in the meadows alongside a mountain stream. The local bus, a few cars and a half a dozen bikers whizzed past; otherwise, it was is so quiet, we could hear crickets chirp, sheep bleat and cow bells tingle, as if we had stepped into another time period.

quiet chalet in Beatenberg

quiet chalet in Beatenberg

In the morning, I flung open our window shutters but yesterday’s stunning view disappeared in puff of smoke like a figment of my imagination. Clouds rolled in overnight burying Lake Thun and hiding the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, cloaking the village in a fog so dense that even the wooden clock tower steeple of the church across the street became invisible.

Yet surprisingly, on the last leg of our drive home, glimpses of the Alps reappeared as the sun broke through the clouds over Lake Geneva. In our little country, the climate like the topography changes in the blink of an eye.

Just so you won’t think life here is perfect, gas costs just under $8 a gallon and simple dinner for two without drinks is over a hundred bucks. Ah yes, paradise comes with a price.

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Posted in inspiration, travel.

15 Comments

  1. As with all repatriated world travelers, I am sometimes tempted to romanticize my memories of Switzerland, and they are plentiful and warm. But thank you for also bringing me back to the reality of living there by reminding me of how EXPENSIVE it is!!! Yes, beauty does come at a price. But it is still a lovely place to visit. I’ll be back soon. Keep the guest room ready!

  2. sis,
    ahhhhh spectacular view, memories and blog! Thank you for the break from my reality this AM. It’s been quite a wild ride in the past 2 weeks so after reading this, calm is surrounding me! So little Swiss is “Paradise with a Pinch” ! It does appear near perfect! miss you much!

  3. I am open-mouthed at the beauty in the slideshow. Thanks for the thing about gas and dinner or I would have been sick with longing. The homes look pretty big…is that reflective of the wealth of the residents? And the concert! Just spectacular. Thank you for another vicarious vacation moment.

  4. I am open-mouthed at the beauty in the slideshow. Thanks for the thing about gas and dinner or I would have been sick with longing. The homes look pretty big…is that reflective of the wealth of the residents? And the concert! Just spectacular. Thank you for another vicarious vacation moment.

  5. Steep prices or no, those gorgeous pics take precedence! Thanks again for allowing yours truly to live vicariously through you:) Waiting for that book, Pat!

    Peace & blessings,
    Clara

  6. Steep prices or no, those gorgeous pics take precedence! Thanks again for allowing yours truly to live vicariously through you:) Waiting for that book, Pat!

    Peace & blessings,
    Clara

  7. Pat, Thank you again for another tour around the countryside through your words, the pictures and the concert. Breathtaking! As usual, you make me feel like I am right there. But ouch,those prices are so steep! You are right,there is a price to pay for everything. But it is oh so beautiful and I appreciate these little breaks to experience another place so far away. Priceless~

  8. Ah yes, ne’er a day goes by without a sweet Swiss memory, but I do remember how expensive it was too… only I earned twice what I earn here now in the UK!! The first week that I came to live and work in the land of cuckoo clocks and chocs I went on a year 8 fieldweek with Peter Giroux to central Switzerland (near these photos). It was quite a change from Basildon in Essex. Gorgeous glaciers and sunny snow-topped peaks, all explained to me by Mr. Geography fanatic’ every step of the way. These beautiful pictures and the clip reminded me of that time 22 years ago. Thank you, always, for bringing such great ‘souvenirs’ to my living room. Hugs, Rach xx

  9. Ah yes, ne’er a day goes by without a sweet Swiss memory, but I do remember how expensive it was too… only I earned twice what I earn here now in the UK!! The first week that I came to live and work in the land of cuckoo clocks and chocs I went on a year 8 fieldweek with Peter Giroux to central Switzerland (near these photos). It was quite a change from Basildon in Essex. Gorgeous glaciers and sunny snow-topped peaks, all explained to me by Mr. Geography fanatic’ every step of the way. These beautiful pictures and the clip reminded me of that time 22 years ago. Thank you, always, for bringing such great ‘souvenirs’ to my living room. Hugs, Rach xx

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