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Berner Oberland A Month in Switzerland, 2023

The Alps in Switzerland in the Bern Canton.


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Lenk Tourism posted some great photos of the Cow Parade on Instagram.

They have a short film from 2019 on YouTube about the families preparing the cows for the parade.

View: https://youtu.be/AAztmJbrsw4?si=QExDD6OBM4ju6cho


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Tuesday September 12
Sunny and not as hot 75F

The weather finally broke tonight with a powerful thunderstorm and heavy rain. I love mountain weather. It reminds of our time in Santa Fe, in the foothills of the Rockies.

This would have been a good day for hiking. It was cooler but sunny and the rain didn’t start until 7pm, but I did not feel well today so we spent the day on the balcony. Maybe yesterday’s hike wore me out. I think our “one day hiking” and “one day resting” policy works best.

BOOKS I found it hard to start another book after “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow”. I kept thinking about that book. But now I am reading two at the same time, plus we are listening to an Audible book together. “The Covenant of Water” is on all the best book lists and I am enjoying this far ranging family story.

“French Dive” about a US couple with 4 young children who buy a tiny, rundown apartment in Nice and move there. This is my kind of expat-porn. Unfortunately this was not on Kindle Unlimited where most of them are (I have a trial subscription) so I had to buy it. Big hesitation before hitting that BUY button because reading it you keep thinking “what are they doing?” and he kind of lectures you on lifestyle.

On Audible we are listening to “The Salt Path” which I read years ago when it first came out but Steve didn’t. I’ve read Raynor Winn’s following 2 books as well. I’d forgotten how desperately sad the first chapters are as this middle aged couple lose their farm in Wales, become homeless, have no money, and Moth, the husband, finds out he is seriously I’ll, then they decide to walk the South Coast Path. The book is about their walk. Winn is a celebrity in the South West of England. The path goes by a mile from our house and we’ve walked many parts of it. It is 620 miles from Minehead to Poole.


The storm is coming in.


The deer take shelter.


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Wednesday September 13
Overcast and cool 65F

The forecast showed rain all day so we didn’t plan a hike. Instead we drove to Saanen and Gstaad about 40 minutes away by car. In the end it didn’t rain until late in the afternoon. The cooler weather was a relief. It was nice to see clouds on the mountain.

In Saanen we went to the bakery/cafe that we like and had a coffee and croissant sitting at a table outside. We spent 2 weeks in Saanen about 20 years ago. Since then the town has changed and is much more upscale, to match Gstaad, but I still love going there. The bakery has better bread than we have in Lenk and there is a very good fruit and vegetable shop across from the cafe.

During the SlowTrav years I wrote an article about Saanen in some magazine that is no longer around (can’t remember the magazine, can’t remember if I wrote the article or someone else did) about Saanen using some of my photos. The fruit and vegetable store was in a different spot and the cage we favoured then was more plain. And you could drive down the Main Street - now it is pedestrian and there is a huge underground car park. (Transitions Abroad - that was the magazine.)

We drove on to Gstaad which was always very upscale and still is. We spent a couple of weeks here too, many years ago. We walked the Main Street. I love seeing the Grand Hotel sitting above the town that was used in one of the Pink Panther movies.

Late lunch at home with things we picked up in Gstaad.


Milchkaffee and gipfel in Saanen.


The cafe menu. I posted this last year and the prices were shocking. They’ve gone up. Milchkaffee is now 4.90 but was 4.60 last year. I’d like to try that Chococcino.


The cafe in Saanen.




Cafe in Gstaad.




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Indeed expensive! Even more than in downtown Tel Aviv, a city notorious for its high cost of living. Maybe you could ask them for a "botz", Pauline .... ;)
Thanks for the lovely reports, sure is nice to see so much green. Keep well and enjoy yourselves.


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Thursday September 14
Some sun and cooler 65F

It was a good day for hiking but I wasn’t feeling well, so it was a day on the terrace.

Friday September 15
Some sun and warm 69F

I felt much better today and we had a lovely day out. The weather was perfect. Some sun and some cloud and not too hot. I have more energy walking in this weather.

We walked out from the chalet, down the valley on the river trail. We had lunch on a bench along the trail. When we had walked 5.5 miles, 2 hours, I was tired, so we took the train from Stockli back to Lenk. This is a nice walk with train stops along the way. You can walk all the way to Zweisimmen where the train to Lenk starts (7 miles).

In Lenk we checked out the new cafe at the train station. Not much changes in Lenk so this was exciting. It looks nice but the outdoor seating is just benches and we didn’t feel like coffee. We got a few groceries, some apple turnovers from the bakery, and walked the 1 mile back to the chalet. A lovely day!


View from the bench where we had lunch. The river is to the left.


Near the end of our walk.


The village of Reid at the end of our walk.


Stockli is a request station. Push a button in the train waiting booth to let the driver know you want the train.


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I’m losing my Israel chops! What is that?

Description taken from an old article from the Israeli "Haaretz" newspaper. It's the cheapest basic coffee :

"The drink of Ottoman Sultans is now known in Israel as simply 'black coffee' or, more endearingly, 'mud'.

"Botz," in Hebrew, is mud – the kind that dirties your car and shoes in the rain. Don't be shocked, however, if at the table next to you at a restaurant, someone asks the waiter for mud. Because, in Israel, "mud" is also coffee.

The drink known around the world as "Turkish coffee" bears the attractive moniker of "mud" or "kafe shachor" ("black coffee") in Israel.

The preparation of such coffee is simpler than most: beans are roasted, finely ground, boiled in a simple pot of water and poured into a cup, where the grounds settle to the bottom, forming a "muddy" layer before being drunk, usually without milk, thus "black".

The benefit of this age-old method (first recorded in 15th century Yemen) is that it requires no special tools – perfect for nomadic caravans needing a little pick-me-up while transporting spices across the Negev and Sahara deserts.

Unfortunately, you probably won't find "mud" on the menu at your local gourmet restaurant or trendy cafe. In fact, lots of places turn up their nose at the stuff. So these days, the coffee of Ottoman Sultans tends to be more the territory of blue-collar lunch spots and home kitchens."


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Yes! I had some of those by ordering black coffee and I came to like them! Cardamom in the coffee is another thing I remember. I really want to get back to Israel.

Georgia & Zig

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Contest 2019 Winner!
Hi Pauline! We are in Cadiz Spain today and the high was only 76 degrees! Delicious weather! We are blessed to be here at the end of our 2nd transatlantic cruise on Cunard. We left Fort Lauderdale on September 5th and will arrive in Barcelona on the 18th. We will try to post a report on our trip in the future. Glad you made it to Switzerland.


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Saturday September 16
Sunny and warm 70F

The weather apps have shown afternoon rain several times but it never appears. Today was another one of those days. It was sunny and warm until around 3pm when we got a few clouds, but it cleared up again soon.

We drove into Lenk. A running event was going on. I think they were going from Adelboden to Lenk and then onto Gstaad. They run on the trails and do big climbs between the valleys.

We drove on to Metsch where we park to do a shorter version of the river walk. This takes 2 miles off the 5 mile walk. So we did a lovely and easy 3 mile walk.

We only have a week left here! Then we drive across the country to Pontresina which is higher up and colder. The forecast shows snow when we arrive and highs in the 40s. I have winter clothes with us so we are set but it will be an adjustment.

The other day we hiked up to Siebenbrunnen where always buy cheese but they had only alp cheese from this year. I like the older cheese from the year before. On one of our drives back from Metsch we stopped at an organic farm that I had always noticed but never stopped at (because we drive by it, it isn’t on a walking trail). We stopped this time since the cheese is bio (organic) and got some. Their self serve cheese fridge is in a cave carved out of a large rock beside their farmhouse. Well, this is the same cheese as at Siebenbrunnen. This is their valley farm! Imagine owning that piece of heaven up at Siebenbrunnen and owning a farm on the outskirts of Lenk!


Cheese from Family Allemann


We walked by the start of the trail to Iffigfall.


Walking into the woods.


Looking back on the trail.


When it is overcast we can see the mountains from our balcony more clearly.


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Sunday September 17
Sunny and hot 70F

Hot but not too hot. Sunny but with a bit of cloud. We drove on the timed mountain road to Iffigenalp. It was busy up there, being a Sunday, but we found parking even though we came up later on the 12:30pm slot. I love driving up this road. It is rough and steep and narrow but since it is timed you never worry about a car coming towards you. We drove up in a group of five cars.

Iffigenalp is at 1600m, so you are up into the mountains with rock faces on one side. We spent two hours up there, walking out to Groppli and back (3 miles, 600ft/200m ascent). We had our lunch at Groppli and spent some time enjoying the view, then walked back down for the 3:00pm descent.

There are several big hikes you can do from here. Or you can drive up and have lunch at the restaurant.

A wonderful day. Iffigenalp is one of my favorite places here.

On the way home we stopped at the bakery and got two slices of Black Forest Cake! Special treat!


Walking up the valley.


Here I am!


At the end of the valley. You can start climbing here and over that ridge is an alpine lake. We’ve done that hike twice but it is a big climb. There is no way I can do that now.


Looking back to the start. This is the farm house at Groppli, built right into that rock.


Black Forest cake.


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Monday September 18
Overcast and rain 65F

A day of bad weather came at the right time. Laundry, getting organised, reading.

After the rain stopped the 5 deer next door and the 3 goats were running around the field. The deer did that hopping running thing they do. One deer likes to go after the goats. They go up on their climbing platform to get away from him. There are chickens too.


From the balcony.


I’ve been comparing muesli.


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Tuesday September 19
Overcast and cool in the morning, then sunny and warm 67F.

Today was forecast to be nice and we planned to drive to nearby Schoenreid and take the Horneggli chairlift up, then do an easy walk. When we got to the start of the gondola it was cool and clouds were on the mountain tops. Where we were going looked clear. There were hardly any cars in the car park, so not many people out.

We don’t get a discount on the chairlift with our Lenk Guest Card because it is in the Gstaad region. The cost is 36CHF each return. I think it has gone up quite a bit from last year. Steve asked for the Lenk discount but they said no (as they do every year, but it doesn’t hurt to ask). Then he charged us only 19CHF each return! He didn’t explain why - maybe because the weather wasn’t good, maybe he just took pity on us. He gave Steve special cards that he had to return when we came down. Nice! The families that own the gondolas work at them too and he was close to our age so maybe it’s his business. You also pay 5CHF to park so these guys know how to charge.

I really thought I had made a mistake with the weather. The ride up was a bit cold and windy. But the sun came out eventually and it was warm.

Only a few people were on the trail or in the restaurants. Last year when we did this walk there were a lot of people and a large school group. Today we almost had the place to ourselves. We walked 4 miles in just under 2 hours, stopping at a bench for lunch. It is an easy walk on a nice trail and has beautiful views. Plus I love riding that chairlift.

On the way back we stopped in Zweisimmen and there was a small fruit and vegetable market. Nice to shop somewhere other than the Coop. In Lenk it was their weekly wine and cheese afternoon which was well attended but we skipped. I don’t know why but I was just exhausted after that hike today!


View from our balcony this morning.


View from our lunch bench.


Good bakery in Zweisimmen.


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Wednesday September 20
Sunny and warm 70F

This is our last bigger hike in Lenk and it was a great one. We learned about this hike from the Boltigen tourist office two year ago and now do it every year. We started at Reidenbach (park at the tourist office) then climbed up for an hour, up to Schwarzenmatt, a village that sits above Reidenbach, then up through the woods to a farm and a viewpoint. We had lunch there. Then we made our way down along a small road to another beautiful village Tubetal. From there we wanted to go back to Schwarzenmatt across the fields but the trail was closed (they are building something) so we took the trail to Boltigen. This trail went along a river in the woods and was a bit slippy.

We came out in Boltigen which is a beautiful village but is on the busy main road. We walked down to the river and took the river trail back to Reidenbach. It was just under 5 miles with a good climb, 700feet. The weather was perfect.

Near the end of the trail a couple picking plums from their tree called out asking if we wanted any. We tried several languages before we settled on English. We talked to them for about 20 minutes. We don’t often get to talk to locals so this was fun. He is a retired computer hardware guy and since we are retired software people we had a lot to talk about. Except his work was more interesting - building projects around the world. We did high school software around the US and Canada. And we got plums!






Viewpoint. We walked up from the valley floor.


Farm at viewpoint.




Trail closed.


Hiking in the woods.




Walking along the river. We were at the base of that stone Mountain, where the green fields end.


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Thursday September 21
Sunny/overcast and warm 69F.

Last day in Lenk! We did a 3 mile walk along the river. Bought a few things at the Lenk Milch shop to bring home - alpine herbs and tea. Dropped off our recycling.

Now I have the afternoon to get packed up and tomorrow we drive to Pontresina in eastern Switzerland. The drive is 5 hours but the weather looks bad tomorrow. I wanted to drive through Lucerne (pretty drive) but that route takes a bit longer and involves a mountain pass. The route Waze wants me to take is boring Autoroute through northern Switzerland which we did a few years ago on our way to the Dolomites, but in bad weather I’m happier on Autoroute. We will decide tomorrow on the way. Left at Spiez is Autoroute the whole way, right is to Lucerne.

I am sad to leave - it’s been such a nice stay here - but I do think that three weeks in long enough for us and we will be back next year.


On the river walk.


Looking at the mountains.


Interesting irregular fence made from log cutoffs, the part they cut off the make it straight, like i do with the zucchini I cut to fry for sandwiches.


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Friday September 22
Heavy rain and cold 50F

We are in Pontresina! The drive was long, a 5 hour drive turned into 8 hours. The sun as out at the start but the last 2 hours was heavy rain. At one point on the route we came to a tunnel where cars go through on a train. I didn’t know that was on the route.

But we are here, they upgraded us to a larger apartment, tne apartment is very nice, and we are heading out to get some Thai food! Heading out into heavy fog. Can’t see the mountains.


A rest area with an American themed store and diner! Pop tarts, Jiffy, sugary cereals - what the Swiss think is American food!


Waiting for the next car-train.


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A car-train is my name for it. It is like the Chunnel that goes from England to France. You drive onto a train that is setup to hold cars. It goes through the tunnel while you are sitting in your car. On the other side you drive off.

In Switzerland they use them instead of a tunnel you drive through. Probably because it is easier to build one small tunnel to hold one train track than a two or four lane driving tunnel. We’ve used the one from Kandersteg into the Valais. I was surprised to find one on our route yesterday because I didn’t see it on Google Maps so was not prepared.

The one we went through was the Vereina Tunnel, from Klosters to the Engadine Valley. The cost was 34CHF one way. It is 11.8 miles long. You could drive the pass I think but I didn’t see any signs for it.

Passenger trains also use the tunnel. We sat on a siding halfway through waiting for another car train and a passenger train to go by.


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Saturday September 23
Overcast and cold 40F

We had snow flurries in the morning and snow on the mountains. It was cold. We used the puffy jackets, scarves, gloves, and wool caps that I brought just in case.

First thing we walked out to the bakery for gipfel and bread. Later in the morning we did a good 2.5 mile walk around town. We located the chairlift which will take us up to a hiking area. This is where I hoped we would see ibex but the woman checking us in yesterday said not likely and offered us marmots instead. We saw a couple taking wedding photos on one of the charming streets.

There are many beautiful old buildings and many modern ones. The company we are renting from, Alpine Lodging, has three modern chalets with apartments and they are building a new hotel on the main Street. There are many hotels in Pontresina, many more than in Lenk. And we heard some American voices. This is much more an international tourist destination I think.






Wedding photos


Small Bay Window


The 5 star hotel


Our building, Chesa Plattner from Alpine Lodging
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