Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Italy and Switzerland...Day 10: Hiking Kleine Scheidegg to Grindelwald...

We woke up on Saturday morning feeling tired and refreshed all at the same time.  We knew we wanted a far easier day than the day before, so we decided we would hike from Kleine Scheidegg to Mannlichen, only to change our minds when we arrived to Kleine Scheidegg.

I went for a run down the valley to start off my day before breakfast.  It was nothing but blue skies.

Any day that starts with running this view, is bound to be a good day.

After breakfast, we rode the train from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg.  This is also the route that people take to catch the Jungfraujoch to go to the Top of Europe.  Ken and I are obviously not those people.  The train was packed and we were both relieved that we enjoy hiking versus visiting such tourists spots.  

Arrival in Kleine Scheidegg.  It was fun watching people lose their shit over running to get in line to the Jungfraujoch.

We walked around Kleine Scheidegg for a few minutes and this is when we decided to hike to Grindelwald instead of to Mannlichen.  Ken was wanting to visit Grindelwald, so we chose to go ahead and hike down to visit the village.  

The view from Kleine Scheidegg down to Grindelwald.  Much different than in 2016. You can barely see the Saint Bernard to the left of the buidling.

The same view from 2016.  It is amazing how different it looks without the snow and the clouds.

We started the hike with a pretty steep downhill section.  We saw a few mountain bikers that were pushing their bikes up the hill because it was so steep.  I kind of laughed at the thought of us going downhill because we both truly dislike it so much.

Looking back at Kleine Scheidegg.  It was a beautiful day.

I wanted to include a picture that shows the tee pee.  I love the tee pee for whatever reason.

The trail leading from Kleine Scheidegg to Grindelwald

We had a great time hiking along the trail and talking about our trip thus far.  We were all alone on the trail and enjoyed seeing the mountains from this side of the valley.

The North Face of the Eiger.  Can you believe people climb that thing?  Clearly with my dislike for chain hiking, this will not be something I will ever attempt.

Taking time to stop to play in the wild flowers.  Why is it that even weeds look more beautiful when there are gorgeous mountains around?  (tank and pants)

These guys were enjoying the sunshine and the views.

The highlight of the hike was when we noticed a mountain hut that we were approaching.  We decided to stop to enjoy a cocktail.

A mountain hut with cows outside?  Yes please!

Ken enjoying the sunshine

It might look like I am enjoying the view, but I am really staring at the cows in the valley below.  I love me some Swiss cows.  (long sleeve shirt)

Looking back at the mountain hut

A beautiful, bright-sunny day.

We saw another mountain hut, so we stopped for a drink.  We both agreed that we did not enjoy this stop as much as we did the first one.  The highlight of this one was watching the cows around it take off in a herd sprinting.  They were quite funny and I have honestly never witnessed cows moving so fast in my life!

Our second stop of the day.

At this point, we were kind of hot and tired of walking downhill.  The views were beautiful, but we were kind of losing steam.  We approached a field that had farmers out raking up hay by hand and we decided that we did not have it so bad hiking downhill.  The Swiss farmers are incredibly hard workers.

Even Grandma was out working in the field

I might consider farming if this was my view everyday.

Looking down into Grindelwald.  We are getting closer!

We were really ready to be finished at this point.

We finally made it to Grindelwald and checked out the train times to get back to Lauterbrunnen before we shopped for a bit.  We stopped for a panini at a place called Avacados, where we spent 52 Francs on two paninis, one radler, and two margarita type drinks.  It was good, but not 52 Francs good.  We both agreed that Grindelwald was not our favorite, but we were glad we checked it out.

We took the train back to Lauterbrunnen, relaxed for a bit in our room, and then went out in search of dinner.  At this point in the trip, we were very tired of sitting down for dinners every night.  We could not decide on a place to eat and then we remembered that there is a meat shop in town and he had set up to make sandwiches and what not so we stopped there.  

It was just what we needed for dinner.  We enjoyed some fries and schnitzel sandwiches and a chocolate shake.  It was much better than having to sit down for an extended dinner.

The view of the little shop set up in Lauterbrunnen.  It was the perfect little spot for an easy dinner.

Out of all of the hikes we did in Switzerland, this was my least favorite.  They cannot all be your favorite, right?  Tomorrow, we take on the hike from Schynige Platte to First.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Italy and Switzerland...Day 9: Hiking to Hotel Obersteinberg...

At some point during all of my trip planning, I came across a little candlelit hotel called Hotel Obersteinberg.  The minute that I read about it, I knew it was a hike we would do.  It is no wonder that we made this our first hike during our time in Lauterbrunnen.

We absolutely love going from Grutschalp to Murren and down to Gimmelwald.  This hike would allow us to do that and continue on to Hotel Obersteinberg and then down to Stechelberg and back to Lauterbrunnen.  It was going to be a long day, but we were ready for it.

I had set my alarm early to get up to go for a run, but decided against it.  Ken had gotten up and opened our curtains and our door, so we had a perfect view looking out into the valley.  I figured I can always run, but I cannot always snuggle with my husband looking out at the Lauterbrunnen Valley.  Now that the sappy moment is over...

We enjoyed breakfast and then walked to the cable car to get up to Grutschalp to start our day.

Starting the trek from Grutschalp to Murren

Most of the trail from Grutschalp to Murren runs along the train tracks.  This was our third time to make this trek and we still absolutely love it.

We had a decent amount of cloud coverage, but we were so grateful that it was not raining or completely cloud covered like our trip last year.  We arrived to Murren and stopped at the Co-op for some salami and pretzels to enjoy later in the day.  Soon enough, we were leaving Murren and own our way down to Gimmelwald.

Saying hello to the cows on the way to Gimmelwald

The view of the trail from Murren to Gimmelwald

Gimmelwald is one of those villages that we cannot get enough of.  It is so unbelievably charming.  Our first stop was the Mountain Hostel for a quick drink.

One of our favorite stops in Gimmelwald

The Mountain Hostel offers some of the best views, in my opinion

I wish I could put into words how happy I was sitting at the Mountain Hostel in Gimmelwald enjoying my glass of white wine.    (long sleeve shirt)

In the middle of the mountains, you can see the shark fin.  That is where we were headed on our hike.  We went right below the shark fin.

See that waterfall above my head?  We end up seeing it from a different view much later in the day.

We enjoyed our wine and dunkel and were ready to take on the rest of the hike.  Once we left Gimmelwald, we would go down hill for a bit to turn and round and go straight up.

Leaving Gimmelwald, heading for Hotel Obersteinberg!

I adore the cow bells

Outside of Gimmelwald with the most amazing views all around

Ken was definitely in his element

Ken picked me a flower.  Who says chivalry is dead?  (tank and capris)

Walking along and every new view looks better than the last!  It so hard to not take pictures.

Sporting my beautiful flower

If I wasn't on a 15 mile hike, I think sitting on that bench with a bottle of wine would be about perfect.

Soon enough, we made the turn like we were going to Stechelberg and crossed over a wooden bridge.  Instead of turning for Stechelberg, we followed the signs to Hotel Obersteinberg.

This ended up being one of my favorite pictures of the entire trip.

The trail description is pretty blunt and basically says you climb up hill for a mile and a half.  You climb over 2,000 feet in about a mile and a half.  I would say that is pretty steep!

Looking through the trees at Gimmelwald.  

The trail was not dangerous at all, just steep.

Looking back at Gimmelwald and the mountains surround us.

Up, up we go!

See how the trail comes up from nowhere?  That is because it comes straight up.  We had beautiful views of the Schilthorn during this hike.  We had planned on hiking to the Schilthorn during this trip, but decided this hike gave us all the views we needed.  It was such a gorgeous hike.

We were up above Murren with the views to prove it.

We were truly having the best time.  We love our hikes together.  (tank)

Ken has really come a long way with the uphill hiking.  He did not complain about it one time.  He really enjoyed the hike, but I am not sure if I could convince him to do it again.

Looking back at Murren and into the Lauterbrunnen Valley.  What a beautiful world we live in.

Ken was checking out the valley from our lunch stop.

We decided to eat lunch overlooking the Lauterbrunnen Valley.  We enjoyed our salami and pretzels for lunch and also felt very, very fortunate.

We had almost finished the climb up and could not believe the views of the Alps and the wildflowers.  I mean, just look at these next few pictures.  This is real.

Remember that waterfall from earlier?

Our steep climb was over, but now we had to get down to Obersteinberg.  Yeah, that was easier said than done.  The hike was kind of sideways down the mountain and it was pretty narrow.  I had to utilize the booty slide many times during the hike, but we survived.

I wish this angle could do the trail justice.  It was oddly downhill and sideways at the same time.

Once we started to approach Obersteinberg we heard cow bells and saw these guys.

Such amazing views to be had

We saw so many waterfalls that we unbelievable

There she is, Hotel Obersteinberg!

Hotel Obersteinberg

This place does not have electricity, it functions with candlelight only.  All supplies are brought it via helicopter or mule.  I feel so fortunate to have gotten to visit such an extraordinary place.

Very happy enjoying my wine and waiting on my goulash!  I sent this picture to my friend, Aunt Bon, and told her how much I was thinking about her sitting at the mountain hut.  (long sleeve shirt)

If we wouldn't have had the hike to get back down, we would have loved to have spent more time here.

We left Obersteinberg with full tummies and full hearts.  We had so much fun hiking to this hut.

The gates keep the cows enclosed into a certain area.  You just walk right through and close the gate when you leave.  Can we also take a moment to praise how well Michelle cuts my hair?  This is with blow drying only and no flat iron.  Pretty impressive.  She is like a hair goddess.  Anyway, moving on.

This picture pretty much sums up our day.  Mountain huts, cows, and mountain peaks, it was pretty amazing.

We left Hotel Obersteinberg armed with a Snickers, a postcard, and lots of smiles.  We vowed to come back some day and stay the night with a day pack.  One of these days, we will.  We knew that there was another mountain hut on our hike down and were pretty shocked when it appeared less than 30 minutes after leaving Obersteinberg.  We have a rule on these hikes, when a mountain hut presents itself, stop.  So, we did just that.

Isn't it adorable?

I loved the creativity of the menu

This dog came up and hopped up on what was clearly his table.  I could not help but be slightly jealous of him!  What a view!

The hike down to Stechelberg is really not a lot of fun.  It is pretty steep going down and after a full day of hiking it is hard on the knees.  Finally, after what seemed like forever, we got down to Stechelberg and decided to stop at the restaurant in the village.  We were going to order ice cream, but were bothered by the flies so we just stuck with drinks.  

As we were sitting there, we heard cow bells.  Yes, more cow bells!  We were so excited to see a farmer bringing his cows through the village on the way back to his farm.  I felt so blessed to have gotten to see this yet again and so up close.

Happy hour in Stechelberg

As if my day was not already amazing enough!  This was just a nice little bonus.

Everyday life in Stechelberg

We left the restaurant and started our walk back to the trail to Lauterbrunnen.  We did see an area where we could stop and get a drink for the road, so that is just what we did.

Armed with wine and beer for the walk down the valley back to Lauterbrunnen

We arrived back to our hotel around 8:30 pm.  We walked in and saw our friend Adam working and we were so excited to see him!  We talked to him for a bit and told him about our hike.  As a local, he was shocked to hear what we had accomplished.  After chatting with him, we left to go and enjoy dessert at Hotel Oberland.  Hotel Oberland closes at 9:00 pm, but they will allow dessert until 10:00 pm.  All we cared about was getting a drink and a dessert.  We figured after hiking 15 miles, we earned it!

Ken was enjoying his black forest cake.  He was mad because I told him to wait to eat until my apple strudel arrived!

Have I mentioned how much I love apple strudel?  I mean, it is pretty freaking amazing.

We walked back to our hotel and snapped a few photos on the way.  Can you believe it is almost 10:00 pm in these pictures?

A view of Staubbach Falls

Hotel Staubbach

We ended our night pretty exhausted.  A 15 mile hike through the Alps is no joke.  It was, however, such an amazing day.  It was one of those days that I will never forget.  I got to hike 15 miles through the Alps with my best friend, there is not much more I could ask for.