Sunday, July 30, 2017

Italy and Switzerland...Day 11: Hiking Schynige Platte to First...

We were both very excited for this hike.  It is a long one, but one that I had been looking forward to for a few years.  We were taking the old cog wheel trail to Schynige Platte and then hiking all the way to First.

We started our morning by taking the train from Lauterbrunnen to Wilderswil, where we would then take the cog trail to Schynige Platte.  If I remember correctly, we took the 8:00 am train out of Lauterbrunnen so that we could get an early start, since it was going to be a long hike.

The cog trail waiting for us at Wilderswil

The train ride itself is quite gorgeous.  It goes through a lot of trees and woods and then suddenly you come out and having amazing views of the Alps.  I prefer hiking to train rides, but this one was quite beautiful.

This picture was taking from the train.  Quite a view, huh?

We got off of the train, hit the bathrooms, and were on our way for what promised to be a beautiful hike.  There was not a cloud in the sky.  We could not have picked a more gorgeous day to take in the beautiful views that awaited us.

Beautiful mountain views on one side

The beautiful water of Lake Brienz on the other side.  The water really is that blue.  It is unreal.

Looking down at Lake Thun

Looking down at Lake Thun and Interlaken

The first part of the hike was a little bit of a climb to get up on the ridge overlooking the lakes and the Alps.  

A view of the trail overlooking the lakes.

Blue skies for miles and miles

Having so much fun on this hike that we had been looking forward to for years.

We were along on the trail for the majority of the hike.  We came across some other people doing the hike, but it was much later in the hike.  When you depart the train, you can take the lower section without the lake views, or the upper trail like we did for the best views.  I am very glad we did the extra climbing at the start to see the views of the lakes.

More views of Lake Brienz

Each time we turned around, we felt as if the views got better and better.

Looking into the Lauterbrunnen Valley

A view of the trail.  It is no wonder we ended up getting sun burnt on this hike.  We were completely exposed the entire time.  It was on 70 degrees but the sun was a shining.

I am not sure we could have a picture taken with a more beautiful backdrop.  This is real and unedited.  It is that gorgeous in Switzerland!

Life as a 4'10 person means lots of standing on rocks for pictures!

More beautiful scenery.

A panoramic shot of Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.  

This hike did not really have any steep drop offs that scared me at all.  We did run into some snow on the trail in a few different locations and I did not know at the time, but Ken was a little nervous in the snow.

Loving my panoramic view of the Alps

A little bit of the snow that we hiked through

After hiking through a large portion of snow, we came upon a mountain hutte to stop for a drink.  We were so excited to see it and it came at the perfect time.  Ken enjoyed a beer and I enjoyed some coffee with cream.  It was pretty amazing.

Ken enjoying his beer and the time with his girl.  See that hiker behind him?  He is heading up the trail where we would be going after our break.

Ken and the Mountain Hutte.  The fact that this places exist in the middle of the Alps where you must hike in supplies or helicopter them in baffles me.  I am so grateful that we have gotten to experience them!

Looking back at the hutte once we got up above it.  I cannot remember our elevation, but we felt like we were on top of the world.

Taking it all in.  I definitely had an amazing time hiking with Ken.

Hiking through more snow.  There may have been a snow ball or two thrown.

It is hard to believe that the snow gets so tall that these poles are needed to mark the trail!

We really had a hard time not taking pictures.  We felt so lucky to have such a beautiful day for this hike.

The Faulhorn was closed so we skipped it but this was our lunch view.  We dined on a croissant, Sweet Tarts, a hard boiled egg and pretzels.  It was pretty amazing.

Started our trek down and overlooking the Bachalpsee

I found a little hutte that I would love to live in!

We had a steep hill to get down that was covered with snow.  It was not dangerous or anything, just a big hill completely covered.  We started walking down and Ken started sliding and I started falling forward.  The next thing I know, ken is on his butt and I am pushing him like he is on a sled all the way down the hill.  We were screaming and laughing like two little kids.  It was the absolute best part of the day.  We both ended up completely covered in snow and laughed and laughed about all the fun we had.  We even saw a couple that was walking up the trail later that was asking us if that was fun, we were laughing that loud.  It was such a fun memory to make.

The view of the hill.  You can see where Ken's butt was sliding in the center of the hill.  It was so much fun.

The other side of the Alps getting closer to First.

The Bachalpsee

All smiles for a 10 plus miles day of hiking

I think he liked the hike quite a bit.

We got to First and bought tickets for the cable car down to Grindelwald.   We also bought two candy bars and two sodas for a total of 18 Francs.  We were both in need of a snack and a drink so, you know.

The view of the cable cars from First to Grindelwald.

It was about a 20 minute ride down to Grindelwald.

We got down to Grindelwald and stopped at the Co-op for chips and salami.  We boarded the train to Lauterbrunnen where a sweet older lady started asking us if we were enjoying our holiday.  We enjoyed talking to her and telling her all about our hikes.  She was so nice to talk with for the ride back into the valley.

Back in Lauterbrunnen and walking back to Hotel Staubbach

We later got freshened up and went to dinner at Hotel Oberland, which is our favorite place to eat.  We both got some fondue and ended with apple strudel.  

Our delicious fondue

Ken and his model pose.

We ended our night with chatting with Adam at Hotel Staubbach and enjoying wine on our balcony.  It was such a beautiful day spent in the Alps.  

The flower was courtesy of Ken.  He picked me a flower on every hike this trip.  

Up next is another beautiful day in Switzerland, visiting Gimmelwald and Murren for a nice relaxing day!

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.