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Berner Oberland Switzerland - Lenk, August 2018

The Alps in Switzerland in the Bern Canton.

Pauline

Forums Admin
Woke up to sunshine! The cloud was low on the mountains but it looked like it would lift. We drove up the freaky narrow mountain road to Buhlberg instead of taking the bus. On our first two visits to Lenk we rented an apartment in a chalet up that road and finally started renting in town because the road is so difficult. I assumed we would take the bus but Steve thought driving would give us more flexibility and he was fine with driving. The drive was fine on the way up, only meeting cars coming down when we were near pullouts. On the way back I knew the bus was on its way up but we figured it would be okay. We met it on a narrow stretch and Steve had to back up going uphill on the narrow road with a steep drop off, but he did okay and my heart rate went back to normal eventually.

We parked at Buhlberg and walked uphill for an hour to Hanenmoospass. Instead of clearing the cloud thickened and the rest of the day was heavy overcast and cold. Hanenmoospass sits between Adelboden and Lenk. To drive takes 1.5hrs as you drive out one valley and then back up another. As the crow flies the towns are close.

We had our sandwiches at the pass where they have picnic tables and a restaurant.

From the pass a gondola goes down 250 meters. We took this gondola down, then walked 30 minutes throughout lovely woods to the next gondola station. From there you can take another gondola to Adelboden or take gondolas/chairlifts up either side of the valley. We could have taken one of these up and done a level walk to Hanenmoospass, but I only realised this after buying our ticket. Next time! We walked back up, took us an hour, following the road which was not used much and made the uphill more gradual.

This area is big for trotties and bikes. People take rides up and ride down on trotties (big scooters). Several trotties zipped by us as we walked up the road most of them calling out greetings, as walkers all do to each other here.

After walking back we took the gondola back up to Hanenmoospass. We were in thick fog now. We stopped at the restaurant for coffe and kuchen, and I had my first hot chocolate of the trip (a cup of hot milk and a package of chocolate mix).

We walked back down to the car (30 mins). Our walking time was about 3 hours, 6.5 miles. A lovely day out. I enjoyed the fog. It makes everything quiet. There was no rain and it was cool, but I only needed a light fleece.

We’ve been here a week already! I have made a list of all the hikes I want to do and am scheduling them so we get them all done. And, as usual, I am thinking about adding another week in another area. Easy to do since we don’t have a flight back!

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We started out at Buhlberg in the sun. Looking across the valley to the mountain tops.

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Walking down along a river.

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Walking back up we passed this beautiful cabin.

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Hot chocolate! This is how it is usually served.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Woke up with a very sore foot! Not my usual bottom of the foot pain (that has almost gone), but pain on top of the foot. I think I bruised or strained something yesterday with all the steep up and down walking.

Sunny and warm, but a few dark clouds over the mountains. We did a slow, limping walk around town in the morning. Then drove into Gstaad in the afternoon. Steve has to do all the driving - usually we share it. It is only 45 minutes to Gstaad.

The drive was beautiful. We had a good walk around Gstaad visiting our favourite bakery to get very good local style bread and buttered soft pretzels (we love these). Walked up to the big hotel where they filmed some of the Pink Panther movie. They have big pink paw prints on the walkway leading you to the hotel. Also to the train station where another scene was filmed. I’ve not noticed those on earlier visits.

We had a good visit at the tourist office and I think I have figured out how we can get to a little lake above Zweisimmen that I have wanted to see.

Gstaad was not crowded as it usually is. Must be the end of summer!

Gstaad and Lenk are popular with visitors from the Middle East. There are always a couple of families staying in the chalet that we are in. I’m not sure why they come to this area but it makes sense to come to Switzerland for cooler summer weather. I don’t think they come for the hiking but we frequently see vans of middle eastern visitors (easy to spot by how the women are dressed) driving around enjoying the scenery. Grindelwald is popular with a Japanese because someone very popular there visited years ago and declared the area beautiful. We don’t hear many American or British voices here, but lots of Swiss and Germans. Also people speaking French, but they could be Swiss. This area is near the border of the French speaking part of Switzerland.

Icing my foot now. I’ve had two deep foot rubs from Steve. Hopefully this will repair quickly!

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Pink paw prints lead to Gstaad Palace.

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The hotel sits high above Gstaad.

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View of the train station from our table at a cafe.

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Coffee 4.20CHF, about $4.20. Same as in Lenk.

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Bakery, Early Beck, on the Main Street in Gstaad.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
My foot is much better today. We went to the pharmacy and got a natural cream (arnica) that is supposed to help and a cold pack. The pharmacist was very helpful.

We decided to have an easy walking day to rest my foot more, but the day did not work out as planned. Instead of an easy 30 minute walk to and from a lake we did a fabulous 5 mile walk in the alpine area near the lake with lots of ups and downs. And I did fine. We took it slower than usual and rested a couple of times.

Seeburgsee is a small alpine lake (1800m) high above Zweisimmen (900m). You can walk up to it but the climb is too much for us. You can take a van up but it only runs twice a week and leaves at 9am (early for us). Or you can drive up on a narrow mountain road that zigzags up the steep hill. The last part is private and you pay 5CHF to drive it.

We tried to drive up last year but I freaked out when the road got really steep and narrow and insisted Steve turn around. We talked to a woman at the Gstaad tourist office and she said you need a really good car to do this drive. Instead we should drive up from Diemtigtal Park where the road is better. However this is a longer drive (2 hours compared to 1 hour) because you drive down the valley towards Spiez then into the park and drive almost all the way back just one valley over.

I found a video showing someone driving the steep road from Zweisimmen and it didn’t look bad, so we did it. It took 20 minutes to Zweisimmen and 30 minutes up the road. It was very narrow (one car width). We had to pass two bikers and that wasn’t easy. It was also steep and had a steep drop off at the edge. There were a lot of pullouts and we made it up and down fine. We passed a few cars but we able to use the pullouts.

The drive was stunning. We drove up through beautiful farms, fields and forests. At the top was a large alpine area. We parked and walked 30 minutes up and then steeply down to a perfect alpine lake. There was a large group of hikers having lunch. They were probably doing a long distance walk. We had our sandwiches by the lake.

We decided to do the trail that makes a circle around the area, figuring it would be an easy walk. It started out on a good path and went to a farm restaurant. We stopped and had coffee (instant) and kuchen (the best we’ve had so far). Then the trail turned difficult going down one valley, then up, then down another valley and up. But it was fabulous. A good hike with great views down towards the Sannen/Gstaad mountains.

The day was mostly sunny and warm. When some clouds moved in it got cold and I had to put on a fleece. But the sun came out again.

Such a nice day!

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Coming up the road, cows blocked our way. I was getting some out of the way when these boys went back to the car.

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Seebergsee.

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View from our lunch spot. All those greens!

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Alpine cows.

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Cows really do like me.

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Views from the walk. You can see the steep path on the left.

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Steve.

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From inside the car as we started down.
 
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Pauline

Forums Admin
Sunny and warm today, temps in the mid 60sF which felt hot at times. Today we did one of the Gstaad hikes that we have done many times. Drove to Zweisimmen, took the Rinderburg gondola up, walked along a ridge with fabulous views, then down to a nice track, ending up at Hornfluh for lunch (rosti). A bit more walking to a chairlift which took us down to Schoenreid. We had an hour until the next train back to Zweisimmen so we walked on an easy trail to the next town and got the train there. A very nice day!

If you stay in the Gstaad area you can buy a pass for 19CHF per day to pay for all the mountain rides and trains. Because we are staying in Lenk, outside the Gstaad zone, we had to pay 56CHF (about $56) each for the rides! Years ago they would sell the pass to us not asking where we were staying, but those days are over. You have to show proof of where you are staying. Last year the chairlift was closed so we didn’t do this walk but instead drove up, on a narrow steep road, to the restaurant. The year before we didn’t do the full walk but instead took the chairlift up, did part of the walk and had lunch, then chairlift down. I am happy we did the full walk today. I had forgotten those incredible views!

My foot did well on the walk. Just over 6 miles but not much uphill and downhill because the rides did that for us.

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Walking up to the viewpoint.

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Looking down to St Stephen in the Lenk valley where the Cow Parade is happening on Saturday. Farmers bring down their cars from the hills on the left of the photo.

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Chairlift station.

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On the chairlift. A bit scary.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Another sunny day but rain was forecast for the afternoon. We did the walk from the end of the valley, Simmenfalle, up to Siebenbrunnen, the waterfalls. We did this walk our first day. It is a great walk and doesn’t take the whole day. We drive to Simmenfalle then walk on an unused rough road along the river up to a high valley. It is one hour up, some parts steep - a 300m climb. At Siebenbrunnen there is a farm and a restaurant.

We did a good climb up (I love this walk) in sunshine but the clouds came over as we were having our sandwiches sitting at the waterfall. No one else was there today. The rain started and we put on our rain coats and headed back, stopping to buy alp cheese from the self serve fridge.

The rain stopped after 20 minutes and it was sunny again. Later in the afternoon we walked out to the shops to get some supplies and do my yearly visit to the excellent cooking shop.

Our friends (from Santa Fe) arrive tomorrow so I probably won’t post until Monday, but I will probably post a photo or two from the Cow Parade.

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On the walk up to Siebenbrunnen.

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Up in the high valley.

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View from the bench where we had lunch. The falls were behind us.

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The detailed trail signs on the way.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
We had a wonderful weekend with our friends from Santa Fe. They are doing a tour of Switzerland and overlapped with our time in Lenk.

On Friday it was forecast to rain all day, but it didn’t. We all went for a walk around Lenk, and then out and back along the river.

Saturday was the Cow Parade (St Stephan Simmental Alpabfahrt). We got there by 11am and wandered around the booths selling local food and craft things. We listened to a singing/yodelling group, followed by alpenhorn players. There were a lot of people but it didn’t feel too crowded. I think it was mostly locals and Swiss. I did not hear anyone speaking English except our group.

We watched three families bringing down their cows. A young family member leads the procession with a sign displaying the family name. Then the family follow with the cows. The people are in traditional dress and the cows wear hats of flowers and have big cow bells around their necks. The best milker has the biggest bell. One family has goats, another brought its bull down first. These cows had been in the alpine farms and fields for the summer and were coming down to the valley farms for the winter.

We left and were stuck behind a group of cows parading down the highway on the way to Lenk.

After the Cow Parade we drove up to Iffigenalp, did a nice hike in the valley then had coffee and strudel at the mountain restaurant.

On Sunday we took the gondola up and walked down the long trail to Lenk. Ed and Sheila enjoyed the walk. It is one of our favourites and we had already done it the first week. This time it was sunny and hot (last time we got soaked). We took our time going down and spent 7 hours walking! We picnicked, stopped for me to rest my foot, stopped at a watering place so Sheila and I could stick our feet in the freezing cold spring water, stopped at a mountain restaurant for coffee and kuchen. That explains 7 hours to do a 5 hour walk!

Dinner at Hotel Waldrand, where they were staying, was excellent. Everyone except me had local salmon trout. I had a very good breaded zucchini dish.

Ed and Sheila left this morning, going to Chamonix. We took the gondola up again and walked down to Launen in the Gstaad area (3 hours). This was our first time doing this walk and it was beautiful. The day was hot and sunny again. The hike is an hour walking out from the gondola station and up to Stubleni. Then 2 hours downhill through fields, along a dirt road, past farms (many people were haying), into woods along a river and into Launen. Some parts were steep but it was not bad. The views were outstanding.

We got to Launen just in time for the 3pm bus to Gstaad (5.20CHF each). The bus was crowded, standing room only. We didn’t take the next train but had an hour in Gstaad then took the train back to Lenk (18CHF each). Another wonderful day.

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Hiking from the gondola station down to Lenk.

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We saw these type of mushrooms last year.

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Walking down to Launen.

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Walking down to Launen.

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Haying on a steep hillside.

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Bus to Gstaad. Lots of other hikers but we didn’t see any on our trail.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Cow Parade photos.






 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Another fabulous day. It was hot and sunny. We took the bus to Iffigenalp. Usually we drive up there on a narrow timed road and then do an out and back walk.

The bus was crowded. I got the last seat, in the back row, and Steve managed to sit on a step in front of my seat and didn’t have to stand for the whole ride. I thought all the young people would give us oldies a seat, but we were the young ones of this group.

Not everyone got on the bus but they brought a van and loaded the rest of them into that.

Hike: Iffigenalp (1584m) - Langermatte (1856m) - Siebenbrunnen (1405m) - Simmenfalle (1102m), 3 hours walking time. Bus to Iffigenalp, bus back from Simmenfalle.

Today we did a walk I’ve wanted to do for the last few years. We started from Iffigenalp and climbed up a hillside for an hour to Langermatte. It was a good 300m climb. About 12 people from the bus were doing this walk but we were well spread out on the hill. The other people on the bus must have been doing the bigger climb to Iffigensee, the alpine lake. We did that hike a few years ago and it was very difficult. These Swiss are very good hikers!

Langermatte is on the saddle of the hill between Iffigenalp and Siebenbrunnen. It is beautiful up there. Large meadows, a farm selling cheese and drinks and incredible views of the huge rock mountains and glaciers. Most of the walkers stopped up here and had lunch. We sat for 30 minutes or so, enjoying the sunshine and views, and had our lunch too.

The next part of the walk was an hour down a steep hillside. Down through fields, then tight switchbacks through forest until we reached the valley on the other side (450m descent). We frequently walk out to this valley, so this was familiar to us. We walked along the river to Siebenbrunnen (the falls we like to walk up to) and for the first time stopped at the farm restaurant there. We shared a melted cheese on bread (käseschnitte) sitting outside with a view of the falls.

Then back down to Simmenfalle where we could get a bus but we chose to walk back to town, taking another hour and giving us over 8 miles for the day. On the way down I stopped and put my foot into the freezing water running all night the path. Felt great! As we got back into town a farmer was bringing his cows down the main street stopping traffic.

It was a great hike but I was exhausted after. Another big hike tomorrow, then the weather changes. An easy walk Thursday, then packing up Friday and we leave Saturday. I booked an apartment in Hasliberg, above Meiringen, for 5 nights so we are not heading home yet.

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Leaving Iffigenalp.

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Looking ahead to the hill we had to climb.

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View back to Iffigenalp where we started.

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Cows at the top.

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View of mountains, glaciers, waterfalls.

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Cows on the road in Lenk.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
I think I have reached peak happiness. Both of us have. What a great vacation!

Hot and sunny with big blue skies. We took the bus up the mountain to Buhlberg, then walked for 4 hours across the mountain to the Simmenfalle path, then down to Simmenfalle and took the bus back.

Last year we did a version of this walk but lower down the mountain. I had intended to do the lower walk but starting at Buhlberg. Last year we used the Metsch gondola to do the hike but it is not running now so I thought we could walk to the Metsch middle station from Buhlberg. Instead when we left Buhlberg we followed the signs for Simmenfalle and the route took us much higher up. A more difficult walk but worth it. We had incredible views. One part of the path was a very narrow path carved out of a steep hillside, but the rest was good. The last 1hr 30mins was downhill but not too steep.

Up on the high slopes we passed a farm and the farmer came out to chat. Steve’s German was good enough to do this. His cows are going down to the valley on Saturday. He lives in the house/barn up there in the summer making cheese.

Our 3 weeks are almost over. I could stay another 3 weeks. There are still more hikes to do!

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Incredible views!

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Looking across to where we hiked yesterday.

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This cow is heading to the valley this weekend.

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Bathing my sore foot.

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Steve’s feet are fine but he tried a glacier bath too.
 
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Lisa in Ottawa

500+ Posts
What gorgeous scenery. I haven't been following but as am sick in bed I thought I'd see what adventures you might be having. Looks like Switzerland has become your special place.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
We are tired from all these wonderful hikes so decided on an easy lower level walk today. It was easy enough but was longer than I had planned, 3 hours.

It was sunny and hot again this morning after last night’s huge thunderstorm. We started out from Lenk and walked up one of the residential roads to the path to Matten, the next town down the valley. The path took us through fields and farms on a hillside well above the road/train/river below. It ended at Matten where we crossed the road/train/river and walked back on the riverside path. A nice walk which we had not done before.

I have a week’s worth of walks still to do, but we will do them next summer.

We got home at 2pm and the rain started at 2:30. The forecast was right with the time but it said light rain and this was heavy rain.

Our apartment is in a 6 apartment chalet, 2 on each level. For the last two and a half weeks we have been the only ones here, which has been great. I can hear kids screaming and running around tonight, signalling a new family beside us. We seem to get heavily perfumed women next door (we both hate perfume) - the only downside of this apartment. The upside is that no one seems to stay longer than a few days.

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Walking out along the hillside.

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The river.

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Walking back near the river.

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Hiking signs in the town center. We’ve done a lot of them in the past 3 weeks.
 
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Pauline

Forums Admin
Today was cooler, low 60sF, and overcast. The day slipped by without us going for a walk. We did grocery shopping for next week since we have a good Coop here and Reuti-Hasliberg has only one small shop. We got packed.

In the afternoon we walked up to the Lenkerhof, Lenk’s 5 star hotel, and went to the spa! I’ve wanted to this on all our other trips but we never wanted to give up a day of hiking. When we saw that the weather was not going to be good today we booked massages. We used their outdoor sulphur pool, then Steve went for a massage and I spent more time in the sulphur pool. I even swam laps in their indoor pool. Then I had a massage and Steve went for a walk (he is not as much of a water person as me).

The massages were great. It has been over 10 years since either of us have had a massage! I was worried they would use fragrant oil or the room would be fragrant but everything was perfect. The sulphur pool was not hot enough but that is probably for health and safety reasons. It uses water from a nearby spring, but they mix it with regular water. I liked being outside in the warm water. There were only a few other people there. We’ll do this again!

Back home and out to the recycling center with our recyclables. Started loading the car.

Then we went out for dinner at Hotel Krone, very near our apartment. It is “rosti” week so I had Rosti Caprese, potatoes topped with tomato and mozzarella. Steve has trout fillets. It is a casual restaurant with good service and great food. We each had a small beer. I started with mixed salad (I love the salads here), Steve had tomato soup. 84CHF (about $84), which explains why we had only three meals out in three weeks here.

I am sad to be leaving. I wish I lived here and that it was always June to October (I don’t ski).

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Fall is in the air!
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
The car was more full leaving Lenk than it had been arriving! It must be the groceries we bought for the week ahead. Or maybe I was less organised in my packing.

We checked out and the woman we rent from, Erika, gave us two boxes of chocolate (one for each of us)! We told her we would be booking soon for next September. We drove to Lauterbrunnen to meet @kay perigo and her husband Russ. The plan had been to watch the Cow Parade together but we missed it. We arrived at 11:30 and the one group of cows went by at 11:15. Kay and Russ saw it. We walked around Lauterbrunnen and saw the cows grazing in a field with their headdresses on. The Cow Parade in Lenk is much bigger and more of an event.

We all piled into our car, Kay and Russ squeezed in with our luggage, and drove to the end of the valley where we had a nice lunch sitting outside with views of the magnificent mountains. Most of us had rosti which was very good. We had an unforgettable Black Forest Cake for dessert! Then we dropped the back in Lauterbrunnen (they are staying in Wengen). It was fun to meet them and we had a lot to talk about. Kay and I are both in the walk1000miles group.

We drove on to Hasliberg which sits on a sort of edge 400m above Meiringen. The road was narrow in spots but was mostly good. We rented an apartment called Alp n’Rose (https://www.alpnrose.com/). I found it on AirBnB then found his website and booked that way. The apartment is lovely. It is smaller than our Lenk apartment but is very well laid out and very comfortable. We have a view of he Grindelwald mountains including the Eiger. The town is more of a village with one shop, a gondola station and several hotels.

The apartment owners live nearby and have already given us some good hiking advice. I’m ready to hit the trails tomorrow.

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Cows in Lauterbrunnen.

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Lunch bill for 4 of us.

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View from our balcony this evening.
 
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