By Eilene Lyon
While my Colorado Rocky Mountain home is fabulous, something about the Old World charm of the Swiss Alps has always called to me. We took this dream vacation in 2014. We flew into Zurich, visited Luzern, Lausanne, and Bern, but we spent the bulk of our trip in Lauterbrunnen. You will see why.
After landing in Zurich about 8 a.m., the second item on our agenda (after coffee), was to purchase a SwissRail pass for eight days. This is a must! Everything in Switzerland is expensive to an American, but a rail pass provides considerable savings. It covers much more than train travel. It is also good for trams, ferries, cable cars, buses, museums, and more. For transportation, we only had to pay a surcharge for the highest-altitude cable cars.
We made only one reservation in advance: a night in downtown Zurich. A room with bed, bath, and barely space to turn around cost €300. They did graciously allow us to have breakfast that morning (before our night’s stay), for a little extra charge.
The next day we arrived by train in Luzern. We stopped at the tourism office and found a spacious room for the night. After dropping our luggage, we took a (free!) boat trip across the lake to catch the funicular and train to the top of Mt. Rigi. Though overcast in the city, we enjoyed above-the-cloud views from the peak.
On to Interlaken, where we again visited the tourism office and arranged to stay in a furnished chalet apartment in Lauterbrunnen for four or five nights. It was lovely, but low doorways were a bit of a headache for The Putterer (at 6’ 2”).
We rented bicycles in Lauterbrunnen one day and rode up valley to see the Trümmelbachfälle, which is a waterfall hidden in a cleft in the rocky cliffs that line the valley. It’s very difficult to get a photograph to do it justice. (Click images to enlarge)
We rode all the way down to Interlaken, then brought the bikes back to Lauterbrunnen by train.
Reluctantly, we parted from our temporary high-altitude home and took another train to Lake Geneva (also called Lac Léman; this body of water sits in both Switzerland and France). We found an incredible room in Montreux, right on the lake, with a balcony, for a very reasonable price.
We spent the next day in Lausanne, walking around the city and visiting the Olympic Museum. Our last leg took us to Bern, the capital city. From there, it was off to the German portion of our trip—for another blog!
Feature image: View of the Eiger (left), Mönch, and Jungfrau peaks as seen from our hike down from Schilthorn. This is probably the most iconic view of the Swiss Alps.
Note: Technically, Heidi’s home was in the Maienfeld district in eastern Switzerland, not any of the areas we visited.