Mürren Switzerland, Last Stop Before Heaven

IMG_3617_copyIn a country where every mile is beautiful, it is difficult to choose a favorite spot, but Mürren rates at the top of my list. Perched precariously on a narrow balcony 5,397 feet above the Lauterbrunnen Valley, the highest resort village in the Bernese Oberland offers the best view of Switzerland’s most famous trio, the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. Mürren is as close to heaven as it gets.

Part of the splendor is the journey upward on the Lauterbrunnen to Grutschalp funicular. Opened in 1891, it was once the steepest funicular in Switzerland until they replaced it with a gondola. After riding up a sheer incline, we stepped out into a station and boarded a train that crept even higher until the line ended in Mürren.

At first, British tourists invaded Mürren, accessible only in summer months. As early as 1869 a British visitor complained, “It is crowded to excess with English.” Archbishop of Canterbury was appalled to see people playing tennis within view of the Jungfrau. He considered it sacrilegious to participate in such an artificial activity when surrounded by such a spectacular natural sport arena.

In 1910, the hotels persuaded railway lines to open lines for winter season. In 1928, the first Inferno Ski Race from the summit of Schilthorn mountain (9,744 feet altitude) put Mürren on the map. Mürren has also been associated with ballooning since the 1910 crossing the Alps ended in Turen.

Sports enthusiasts aren’t the only ones to enjoy Mürren, one of the larger car free resorts. Every day tourists love strolling through one long main streets where bakeries, boutiques, hotels and resorts perch on a ledge of Switzerland’s most famous Alps. Every 50 yards, red benches beckon gawkers and walkers to sit a spell when the panoramic views take one’s breath away.

One step out onto the terrace of our Hotel Alpenruh overlooking the tips of the Eiger, Jungfrau and Munch in full splendor and felt like we’d tumbled into Heidiland. Several hiking trails offered excursions. We chose the children’s adventure trail, which required more dexterity than my old body could muster. Even with my adjustable walking sticks with three different tips for snow, mountain and road surface, I struggled to maneuver the sheer ledges.

We climbed up a peak where half a dozen chalets – abandoned in offseason -looked like a mountain ghost town. The trail disappeared again in heavy wet snow. The only way back was straight down a sheer drop off that even a skilled skier would have trouble descending. Never daunted, my husband bounded ahead sideways like a billy goat and forged our own trail. My knees screamed in pain each step downward, but I pushed ahead fearing that if I misjudged one step, I would roll into another valley and be lost forever.

We finally saw the village below although it took another 2 hours to reach it. Once back at the hotel, I collapsed on the trundle bed under a fluffy duvet enjoying my hiker’s survival high. I admired the show outside my window as the setting sun illuminated the rugged mountain trio in various shadows and shapes. Meanwhile, much to my chagrin, my husband watched a football (soccer) match on a mini TV. In a land offering this kind of splendor just outside one’s window, television, like tennis courts, should be banned.

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Posted in inspiration, relationships, travel.

17 Comments

  1. Wonderful to read about and see photos of this enchanting place, of which I had never heard! Thanks.

  2. Pat, Thanks for another fascinating tour. The slides are breathtaking. The first thing I wondered–is there enough oxygen up there? Then I figured it was probably the freshest of mountain air!

    • Oh yes, Kathy, when we have trouble breathing due to the pollutions at lower levels, the locals tell us to go above the clouds and just inhale!

  3. Beautiful Pat! You must plan your second book around your Switzerland lifestyle and include loads of fabulous snapshots.

    Blessings!

  4. Wow, I never went there! As I read this my heart quickened and my head filled with mountain memories… Thanks so much for that. Naughty Gerald for screening out, but if he was such a mountain goat earlier then maybe we can excuse him? LOL.

    Keep ’em coming! I look forward to my weekly read. Love Rach xx

    • As you know from living here, these sites are not daily our view…usually we are staring at the gym walls and a line of rowdy teenagers and forget that we are surrounded by all this splendor.

      • Ha ha! How I remember that sports hall and upper sports hall… every pothole and chair scrape on the floor… years and years of teaching ‘rowdy teenagers’ was enough to send me into teaching teachers for the last ten years!! You have more patience than me… Funnily enough, I live in Australia and have yet to see anywhere other than local sights due to my working hours over the last six months… maybe I should have just taken a ‘gap year’ and travelled instead of living and working here?… No regrets though. We will find the time to visit places soon I hope; it’s still early days… Miss ya lovely Pat, Hugs Rach xx

  5. Oh, Pat, what breath-taking scenery! No wonder you fell in love with Switzerland! Thank you so much for showing us these beautiful slides and bringing the countryside closer to us. Just to think of you actually living amid all that splendor!!

  6. Enjoyed your hiking story…pics are beautiful…oh yes another one Clara has the right idea for your next book!

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