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Berner Oberland Switzerland - Lenk, August 2018

The Alps in Switzerland in the Bern Canton.
Hasliberg is a big hillside that has a steep drop off to Meiringen below. There are two towns that sit near that edge. We are in Reuti, the one further south. The other town is Wasserwendi. There is one road into this area and it ends at Reuti. You can drive down to Meiringen in 17 minutes or take a cable car down from Reuti.

For hiking there are three gondolas. The Wasserwendi gondola runs only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at this time of year. It’s middle station is Lischen (1480m), top station Käserstatt (1840m). The Reuti gondola runs daily with middle station Bidmi (1423m) and top station Mägisalp (1710m). From Mägisalp there is another gondola that goes higher to Alpen Tower (2250m).

Today we took the Reuti gondola to the middle station then did an easy 30 minute walk across the hillside to Lischen, the middle station of the other gondola. Then up to Käserstatt. From there we did a 2 1/2 hour circular walk out to Gibel (2035m), a viewpoint above the valley below. We could see Brienzersee and Interlaken and the mountains beyond even though it was overcast. On a clear day you see the Zürich mountains. It was stunning.

The trail was busy with hikers and bikers. Many of us had our packed lunches at the view point. There were many families with young children out walking too. Not many non-Swiss tourists up here.

We walked back a different way, lower down, ending with a long climb back up. Instead of going back down the gondola we walked across to the Reuti gondola top station. Sebastian who we are renting from told us to cross at the middle station level and I can see why. If we had crossed at the top it was longer and a steep climb. Easier to do going back when it was downhill.

We were anticipating rain, but it didn’t start until we were in the gondola heading down, around 4pm. And then it was only a light drizzle. We were joined in our gondola by 3 local teenagers who got in, did not acknowledge us, pulled out their phones, did not speak to each other, and slouched so much on their bench that they took up most of the room. Don’t mind us I said but no one even looked up. So, those lovely small Swiss children in their cute hiking boots, waving at us and being the sweetest kids, turn into surly teenagers like everywhere else.

A great hike, great views but the hiking here is not as good as in Lenk. You have a few good hikes here but then you have to drive to other areas. I have wanted to come to Meiringen/Hasliberg for years and am happy to be here, but this is not my kind of hiking destination. Too many hikes that are downhill from gondola stations. And the ones from the top stations are too difficult for us I think, but we will give them a try and see. After all, I’ve only been here for a day.


The trail to the viewpoint (end of green ridge).


Cow with the Eiger and Jungfrau behind.




Viewpoint looking back.


View of Brienzersee.

Old huts at high level.
We walked over 130 miles the 3 weeks we were in Lenk, averaging over 40 miles a week. Most of them were not easy miles - rough trails, lots of ascent. We are pretty pleased with ourselves.

As we were strolling around Lauterbrunnen on Saturday with fellow 1000miler @kay perigo we passed 1000 miles for the year without realising it! Now I am really happy we had that Black Forest cake at lunch. :dork:
Today was much better weather than yesterday - hot and sunny - and would have been a better day for a hike! But instead we decided to have an easy day. We wanted to have breakfast out, but the hotel on the corner that has a nice cafe were shocked when we arrived at 10am hoping to find a croissant. No chance at this late hour! So we went to the shop, got bread and butter and went back to the apartment. Thus our late start to the day. But it was a lovely lazy morning in our sunny apartment with that fabulous view.

We forced ourselves out around noon and drove just past Meiringen to the Aare Gorge (Aareschlucht) which @artnbarb went to last year and recommended to us. We almost didn’t go because the brochure made it look too touristy but we did go and loved it. There were not many people when we started because it was lunch time. As we were leaving, a couple of hours later, it was getting more crowded.

It is a long, narrow gorge with a platform sidewalk built through it. The river runs below you. It took us an hour to walk from one end to the other, a bit less to go back because we didn’t stop as often. The Gorge is so narrow in spots that you can touch the other side. You look high up to see the top in sunshine.

We passed on the Reichenbach Falls because we saw them years ago and we were being lazy. We went into Meiringen which was very quiet, had a late lunch at the Migros (supermarket) restaurant, spent some time at the tourist office getting hiking info for the rest of the week, then went to a Tea Room for coffee and merengue (when in Rome ...). I don’t think I’ve really had merengue before. Interesting but I don’t need to have it again. It reminded me of sponge candy that I used to eat when I was young.

It takes 20 minutes to drive down to Meiringen. It is staggeringly beautiful here, the long valley with high mountains on three sides. Late afternoon we sat out on the balcony for a last bit of sunshine and views.

Photos of Aareschlucht.





In the canyon are underground caves built by the Swiss during WWII.


A disappointing day! It rained in the morning and was cloudy. The forecast said rain in the afternoon. We have a couple of things we want to do but are waiting until Wednesday and Thursday to do them, when the weather will be good. The rain stopped and we decided to drive up to Grimsel pass to do a hike recommended by the person we are renting from and by the person at the tourist office.

It was an hour of driving and the road was very winding to get up a steep pass. The views were beautiful. We stopped at Grimsel Hospiz, almost at the top of the pass. We drove on the top of a dam to get to the parking by an historic alpine hotel. There were dams everywhere up there and the lakes were all created by the dams. The lake we were to walk along had very steep mountains rising up from it. The plan was to walk on the trail on the north side of the lake.

First we went down a wire mesh staircase here you can see through, then we crossed the dam that created the lake, then up a covered staircase to the trail. At this point I stopped the hike. I was not going up that path. It zigzagged up a steep rock face to what looked like a tunnel! After all that it looked like a narrow path along the lake, then you walked back the same way.

We called off the hike - I can’t remember the last time we did this. We walked back to the parking. We checked out the hotel menu and it was staggeringly expensive, which is saying something here. We drove down to look at the Gelmer Funicular which they say has a 106 degree angle??! No way we were riding that. It went straight up a long steep rock face to another lake formed by a dam.

We actually sat in the car in the parking lot and ate our sandwiches, then drove home. A tour bus arrived for the funicular as we were leaving. It was now a hot and sunny day. We got back around 3pm and should have taken the gondola up and done a hike, but instead we lazed around reading, sitting on the terrace, napping. I think we wore ourselves out in Lenk!


The road up to Grimselpass.




Hotel Grimsel Hospiz.


This is where I decided to stop the hike.


The damn we walked across to the start of the trail. The path zigged then zagged to what looked like a tunnel.


Gelmer Funicular.
A wonderful day! Hot and sunny. Temps are low 70sF, cooler at high altitudes. Today we drove an hour to Beatenberg, on the north side of Thunersee, past Interlocken. Our friends who we visited with in Lenk had stayed there and saw an Ibex when hiking at the top of the Niederhorn gondola. They didn’t realise that was what it was but when we were talking about Ibex, as we frequently do, they said they had seen one. Then I remembered reading about a place north of Thunersee where there were Ibex colonies. So we decided to see if we could see them.

(We did see them, but only two females and five babies, not males with the long horns.)

It is best to see them early in the morning before the hiking crowds arrive, or early evening. We got there as early as we could and were at the top of the gondola at 11am, but there were a lot of people on the trails and no Ibex.

We did a fabulous hike, along the ridge and climbing up two peaks. Parts were very steep and narrow. Not an easy hike. We had lunch on Gemmenalphorn (2061m) - the gondola top is 1950m, so not much higher, but we had to climb up, then down, then up, etc. From what I read the Ibex are usually around Gemmenpass but we did not see any. There were about 15 other hikers having lunch on the peak.

We took a lower route back to the gondola top and ended up walking for four hours. When we were almost back to the station we saw our small group of Ibex grazing. We sat and watched. Then back to the station, coffee and hot chocolate at the restaurant. They have a dormitory there and lead weekly groups to see the Ibex. I talked to one of the guys and he said there are only three male Ibex in the area. The rest died last winter because it was a severe winter. He sai the best time to see them is June when the snow has melted. The cows come up in August and September and the Ibex move away to avoid them.

A lovely day, great views, Ibex, a very good hike.


Beatenberg-Niederhorn gondola, top station.


Steep part of the hike.


Lunch on the peak. It took us almost two hours to get there.


Lunch views.


The lower trail going back.


Ibex. The young ones in front, female at the back.
Our last day in the Alps for this year was a great one.

Hike: Alpen Tower - Balmeregghorn - Tannalp - Engstlenalp
From Hasliberg-Reuti gondola to Mägisalp, gondola to Alpen Tower, walk to Engstlenalp (3.5 hours), bus to Innertkirchen, Train to Meiringen, gondola to Reuti.
Cost: 58CHF (40CHF with half price card) per person. This is a popular walk so they have a set price for the whole thing.
Time: We were on the gondola just after 9:30, started walk from Alpen Tower at 10:45, Walk took 3hr15min plus break for lunch, got 15:45 bus, home by 17:30.

I put the details of the walk above. It was a hot and sunny day. We walked at high level, above 2000m, then descended to 1834m. The last time we were at Engstlensee was about 20 years ago when we spent 2 weeks in Engleberg. From there we could gondola and hike up to it. This time we came at it from the other direction.

It was a good trail, better than yesterday’s rough and rocky trail, and there were a lot of people on it. About 15 other people, most doing a Swiss Classic long distance walk, started when we did. We had a group of them behind us for the first 30 minutes. Ah, the melodic sound of Swiss voices. This group of six women talked in loud voices nonstop. We had to stop for a water break to let them get ahead of us. Finally they all stopped to eat and we sailed by them, never seeing or hearing them again.

It amazes me that when you are out in all this beauty that people talk the whole time or smoke or, even worse, vape. Oh well, at least they are out using the trails.

After 2hrs30mins we reached Tannensee. This area, and Frutt, are much more developed than when we were here last. They are served by a gondola and many hotels have been built on the lake by Frutt. We had our lunch sitting in a field with an incredible view.

In another 45 minutes of descent, down a steep hillside, we reached Engstlenalp. We were an hour early for the bus (you have to reserve it ahead of time because they only run it on weekdays if there are enough people) so walked down to Englstensee, which is as pretty as I remember it. We soaked our feet in the cold water.

The bus was not full, but almost. It was a 40 minute ride down an incredibly beautiful valley to the main road, then to Innertkirchen where we got a small commuter train to Meiringen. A half mile walk to the Reuti gondola, a bit of a wait, then it took us up the mountain and we were home.

Big day, great hike. Tonight we pack up, tomorrow we drive to Basel for one last night in Switzerland, making it 4 weeks we’ve been here. We’ll probably be home Sunday night.


Swiss Classic hikers on the trail (with orange banners on their packs).


Looking back on the trail.


Pauline having lunch with a view.

I have two more photos but I can’t get them uploaded. The internet in this lovely apartment is not good because it is a bit remote here. Even my phone isn’t getting good data tonight.
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You've inspired me, Pauline. After following along on your Swiss adventures over the years, we are thinking of going to Lenk next year. It just looks so beautiful.
We have never really considered Switzerland in part, because of the costs. Yikes! But....thosr fields and mountains and marvelous hikes. Perhaps we'll go at the same time as you and Steve.
We had a good drive home. On Friday we checked out of the Hasliberg apartment and drove under 2 hours to Basel for a last night in Switzerland. We drove via Lucerne, instead of via Thun and Bern, and traffic was thick. Next time we will take the Bern route so we don't drive through such a busy area.

When we were almost at Basel we saw a sign for Augusta Raurica, with a symbol indicating an archaeological site, so we turned off. It was just a few miles off the autoroute and was well worth the visit. Augusta Raurica was a Roman city with 15,000 people. It has been turned into an archaeological park set in the middle of a suburban neighborhood. There is a large theatre, some remains of an amphitheatre and remains of a few temples. Only one large stone remains of the forum, but you can walk around the field where it was. There are also baths and the remains of a building that was used by the Roman government.

There were a lot of school kids around. Some in official groups but the ones hanging out in the theatre were probably from the nearby school. We spent about an hour walking around to the different parts (it is quite spread out) but did not make it out to the aqueduct. We'll save that for another time.

As we heading back to Basel the rain started and was quite heavy at first. We got into Basel and could not find the hotel. Waze kept telling us we were there but we could not see it. We drove around in circles several times. I was driving. At one point I pulled into a road for trams only, then pulled over to the side to check Google Maps. A tram went by us about an inch away! Turns out Waze would not direct us down the trams only street, but that is where the hotel is and you are allowed to drive there to get to it. Steve saw a sign for it - or we would still be driving around I think.

I booked one of the Sofitel hotels, The Pullman, because of easy booking and parking. We were hit by a wave of fragrance as we entered the lobby. Instant headache and we had to stand there forever to check in. Thankfully our room did not have fragrance and we had a balcony so we could get fresh air.

The rain had stopped and we walked around Basel. We've never been to Basel and it was interesting to see but I did not love it as much as Zurich. It is on the Rhine River and has a large old city. The modern shopping area is mixed in with the old city. We stopped at a pretzel stand (!!) and had the best buttered pretzel ever. We found the Tibits vegetarian restaurant which is buffet style and looked good but was quite a walk from the hotel for dinner. Instead we had dinner at a Thai restaurant across the street from the hotel. It rained all evening.

I think we will stop in Basel next year on our way to Lenk but this time will stay in a different hotel.

The next day, Saturday, we drove about 6 hours across France to Amiens. Waze took us a different route and most of the drive was lovely. We were on autoroute (with lots of tolls) but off it for a few hours. We had wanted to stay in Arras again because it is only an hour's drive from the tunnel and has a great vegetarian restaurant, but the Mercure where we stayed on the way out was booked and so were most of the other hotels. I think there was a WWI event that weekend. The rain held off all day, but arrived in the evening.

We had been to Amiens a few years ago but only for a short visit. It is 1hr30mins to the tunnel, so almost as good a place to stop. I had forgotten how charming the town is, with a lovely historic center around that magnificent cathedral. We walked around a bit but it was raining. We ended up having dinner at the hotel because it was raining and the menu looked good - but, yuck, what an uninteresting meal with bad service.

Sunday morning we drove to the tunnel in pouring rain - a deluge! We booked the 12:50pm train the night before and you can arrive up to 2 hours ahead and 45 minutes after. If you get there ahead they will put you on an earlier train. We got there in time for the train we booked.

Drive on the left! The driving in Europe, on the right with our UK car, was easy! And switching back to the left as easy because we were driving motorway. We got off the motorway after a few hours to visit a friend who lives near the M3. I was driving. We approached a large roundabout. Waze told us to take a left turn (first exit) and I entered the roundabout thinking that would be third exit! Steve did too! He reminded me to move over so that we would be in the correct lane for the right turn. I wasn't driving in the wrong lane but I was thinking the roundabout worked in a different direction. I corrected my mistake and we drove on. That was the only driving mistake we made on the whole trip!

Home on Sunday evening and tired - from the drive and from all the hiking. We hiked 169.92 miles in the 4 weeks in Switzerland! It was a great trip. We will go back to Lenk next year, and we will drive there. It was nice to have our own car. We used to do long road trips in the US frequently. I don't know why we have put off driving in Europe!


Augusta Raurica - theatre.


Augusta Raurica - remains of temple across from theatre. People in the theatre could watch the processions at the temple.


Augusta Raurica - remains of a temple.


Pretzel King!!


Old Town in Basel.


Amiens Cathedral.


Driving onto the car train for the EuroTunnel.


On the car train heading home.

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