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.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Only One Hotel Jungfrau (Mürren-Swiss Alps) Lives Up to Its Name

Switzerland is filled with countless lodgings bearing the name Hotel Jungfrau, but there is only one place in the world where that is it not a misnomer. The Hotel Jungfrau of Mürren, in the Lauterbrunnen Valley (Swiss Alps) can actually boast of offering the world’s best of the Jungfrau.

Built in 1894, as one of Mürren’s oldest hotels, it was renovated in the 1980s. Though completely modernized, it retains an old world feel in its wooden exterior and spacious lounge areas where comfy sofas line the windows and fire place.

happy flatlanders in front of the hotel

The construction of the Mürrenbahn in 1889 and the Allmendhubelbahn in 1912 brought tourists to the valley. British Sir Arnold Lunn (1888-1974) put Mürren on the global map when he organized the first slalom race, which was held next to the Hotel Jungfrau in 1922.

The hotel offers the ideal setting to fall in love or renew wedding vows. Owners of the family-run 3 star hotel share their own love story. Veronica Fluck, from the French speaking part of Switzerland, fell in love with Alan Ramsay from Scotland, and chose Mürren as the perfect place to raise two daughters. The couple and their staff are so warm and welcoming, you feel more like special house-guests than passing tourists.

Booking rooms, costing from 93 to 177CH per night, is always challenging as there is so much choice and you can never be sure what your are getting for your money. Accommodations are simple, but clean, and the rooms are fairly large by European standards. Rooms with views cost extra but hey, if you do ever make it up here what is a few extra bucks? For an extra $20 a night, you can admire the 3 kings right outside your window in 3 dimensions. In room 26, at the end of the floor, you feel like you can reach out and touch the mountains as you admire the sunset from your balcony overlooking the village.

a view from our room

Located next to the ski school, Hotel Jungfrau is ideal for winter sports. In the summer, meadow trails just outside your door are perfect for hiking, biking and adventure sports. However, Mürren is so small everything is centrally located with easy access to the great outdoors.

What sets Hotel Jungfrau apart is the hospitality of the owners. It also offers what Gerald and I agree was the best continental breakfast we ever had in Europe. A copious spread of cereal, fresh grapefruits, oranges, melons and pineapple, 5 different juices, 3

…and from down the hall

…and from down the hall

homemade jellies, dried apples, prunes, apricots, scrambled eggs, bacon, ham, beans (must be the Scottish influence), local cheeses and fresh bread, rolls, and pastries awaited guests. The morning chocolate, coffee, or tea is piping hot.

The mountaineers’ breakfast, included in the bill, was so delicious, we regretted not staying there for dinner to try the cuisine of Chef Hans-Peter Schaer. He combined innovative culinary ideas from his long stay in Australia and Asia with the traditional Swiss Cuisine in the Restaurant Gruebi.

The Hotel Jungfrau website boasts, “This is the only place where a genuine Scotsman serves a large selection of single malt whiskies in the Swiss Alps!”

cozy lobby

Recommended by travel guru, Rick Steves, I can also vouch that Hotel Jungfrau in Mürren truly lives up its name.


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.

[cincopa A4MAc46tm5b9]