Of course this place is spectacular… It is in the Swiss Alps! However, we had just come from Corvara, Italy in the Dolomites and it was quickly apparent the whole town of Lauterbrunnen is much more rustic and in need of a bit of a makeover by comparison. Maybe Lauterbrunnen is just more authentic.
We Arrive in Lauterbrunnen
There is basically one street in town containing all the restaurants, hotels, ski trams and train station. The first stop in town for us was an ATM to get the very colorful Swiss Francs, then to a COOP grocery store for some much-needed beer and snacks for the weary travelers. We then schlepped our luggage uphill to the extreme end of town to our hotel that overlooked the Staubbach Falls, which was illuminated each evening, shown below.
Most Hikes Begin with a Tram Ride
Many of the hikes begin where the ski trams end, hiking between them or down the mountain. Here is a colorful character seen on one of the trams. I’m guessing he has lived here his entire life. I wonder what he thinks of his mountain being over-run with tourists.
Systems of snow fences line the edge of the mountain where our hike began.
007 Movie ‘On her Majesty’s Secret Service’
After the initial tram ride, a train and another tram, we arrive at the scene of one of the most successful James Bond movies, ‘On her Majesty’s Secret Service’. The famous Eiger mountain peak can be seen on the left. The top of this tram ride served as the fictional headquarters of James Bond’s nemesis and head of SPECTRE.
We almost stayed in the mountain hamlet of Gimmelwald based on a Rick Steves recommendation. That would have been a huge mistake. There are more cows and goats than people, leading to a massive number of pesky flies.
My First Hang Gliding Experience
After taking several ski trams, arriving in the very scenic nearby hamlet of Gimmelwald and having a couple of beers, an advertisement for paragliding caught my eye. The bartender informed me they were booked for the day, but my mind was made up to go paragliding in the Swiss Alps the following day.
The next day, after two long ski tram rides to the top of the mountain and a ten minute hike to the take-off slope, I was ready for my inaugural flight. My instructor handed me a helmet and quickly acknowledged that it was strictly for looks, for if I actually crashed it would certainly do me no good. During the unpacking of the silk, I saw the designs of the other silks had eagles or the Swiss flag on them, which unfortunately looked too much like an ambulance cross, but worse, my para-glider was pink….
The start of the glide was delayed due to dense fog. The videos below shows a lady taking off from the ski slope just before me. Then it was my turn. I caused a problem by lifting my legs too soon so our first attempt was embarrassingly aborted. Eventually I got to fly by one of the many waterfalls in the valley. Certainly one of the most exhilarating experiences of my retirement so far.
Wow, the hang-gliding looks scarry but also exhilarating!