During the ten years of our relationship, Brandon has traveled to twelve different countries for work and with every coming year there is potential for a new one. I’m usually left behind reluctantly waving goodbye as he sets out on a new adventure but when I heard that Switzerland was a possibility at the end of the year, I refused to let him go without me.
We started the trip in Paris because he had more work to tend to in France at the end of our stay and from there we drove to Beatenberg, a small village perched in the Swiss Alps overlooking Interlaken. The view from the balcony of our hotel room (pictured above) was so beautiful that I almost couldn’t believe my eyes.
While Brandon was at work for the first three days, I spent my time catching up on sleep, blogging, and wandering the narrow, winding streets of Beatenberg. One of the highlights during my time exploring was spotting a pack of llamas! There were three altogether and this one was especially cute and goofy. I mean, just look at that face.
Most of Brandon’s meals were covered by the conference so I ventured out for lunch to Hotel Gloria next to our hotel. I had the Swiss Raclette with potatoes and pickles and it was cheesy and delicious.
I also tried a place further down the road called Chilchi Pintli which had several vegetarian options. It’s run by a husband and wife and they were such a friendly couple! The food was awesome too so I took Brandon back with me one night for dinner and we had pumpkin soup, vegetable spaetzle (the German version of dumplings), and a big salad served with a baked potato.
We booked a fourth night at the hotel in Beatenberg so that we could spend a day hiking the Jungfrau and my only regret is that we didn’t stay longer. This part of Switzerland is just jaw-dropping gorgeous. I felt like I must have said “wow” a million times that day! And although the main language in this region is German, almost everyone spoke English so it made it really easy for us to get around.
The plan for the day was to drive to Stechelberg and take a cable car up to the car-free town of Murren. To get there we had to pass through the east side of Interlaken which is a small city nestled beneath the mountains. There were plenty of restaurants and shops in this area so we popped into a bakery for some handmade chocolates and then spent a little time strolling around the cobblestone streets. I couldn’t get over the color of the river running through the city; it was such a beautiful shade of blue!
Stechelberg is a little higher in elevation than Interlaken but it also sits in a valley between the mountains. Everything there was so picturesque and the sounds of the waterfall and cow bells gave it a very enchanting feel.
For our hike, I chose to start from Murren based on what I read in Rick Steves’ Swtizerland guide. He describes it as a peaceful ski resort town with breathtaking views of the Swiss Alps and it was that and so much more. The resorts were impressively perched on cliffs, staring directly into the massive mountains and the surrounding homes were quaint with colorful shutters and adorable little garden gnomes. I was so tempted to forget the rest of our plans, check into one of the hotels and just stay there instead!
The “hike” I had planned for us was actually just a thirty minute walk down a paved road to the locally-owned small village of Gimmelwald. According to Rick Steves’, it’s home to roughly 120 residents (the majority with the last name of von Allmen or Feuz) whose families have fought to protect it from the commercialism of the resorts seen in nearby Murren. Most of the residents barely get by raising enough hay to feed their cattle but they believe in working hard to uphold the traditional Swiss mountain culture.
It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with Gimmelwald. From the historic water troughs pumping fresh glacial water for both cows and humans to enjoy to the small organic gardens alongside every house, it is nothing short of magical.
The village even has a self-service Honesty Shop with edibles and antique trinkets for sale. On the inside there are several signs advocating compassionate farming and animal welfare which, of course, I loved.
You could really tell the people here believed in taking care of the animals and the land. The cows looked strong and beautiful and the goats were in pretty good shape too!
Even though October is considered off-season, we managed to find a small store selling some local goods. We bought a chocolate chip cookie and some good luck tea (from Ursula von Allmen…there’s that name!) before heading back up the mountain for lunch.
I loved every second spent exploring Gimmelwald and I told Brandon that if I had him, Coco and Gigi in that village, that would be my idea of heaven. And then our families would live close by in Murren. ;)
Then we finished the day with fondue, a bottle of rosé and another incredibly amazing view.
The whole day felt like a dream. One that I hope to relive when we return some day!