Some people think that walking and time in the mountains is all over after the 30th September. However this is simply not true. October can be a glorious month of long days ending with some crispness but brilliant blue skies and golden colours. Hence the popular name Golden October.
The colour of the sky on these clear days is a stark blue, possibly due to the colder higher temperatures. Often the sunsets will be glowing after such a stunning day and you wish the day wouldn’t end. The crowds have waned and there is still so much to enjoy on the trails. Late blooming flowers still enjoying sun will delight you and the meadows are quiet since the cows have usually been returned to the lower grounds in this month.
Scherenschnitte ("scissor cuts" in German), is the Swiss 16th Century art of paper cutting.
Paper was invented only around A.D. 100 in China and paper cutting became very popular there at the time of the Sung Dynasty (10th - 13th century). The cutouts were used for decoration such as on windows, pasted on lanterns or house door adornments.
These can be made as white cut outs and glued onto coloured or black background, or cut out of black paper card. In Europe white cut work is much older than black.
While you can buy special paper cutting paper that is gummed and ungummed or rubberized paper that has a black and white side of the sheet. The white side has a light adhesive so you can moisten it with water to fix it to the final place. You can also get super sharp silhouette scissors for the silhouette cuts, corners, fine filigree and holes. But you don’t need to buy these special things, since sharp nail scissors will work well and the choice of paper need not be too thick.
Cut out the white template and then put it on the black paper, stencil around the template with a pencil on the black paper and then cut out the black. While time consuming, it is very relaxing and rewarding.
Recipes in the alp areas of the Berner Oberland are uncomplicated, easy and delicious due to their high quality ingredients and fresh preparation without mixing too many flavours and different ingredients.
Breakfast could be fresh bread, with a lot of butter and choices of honey, marmalade or Nutella. Maybe a mixture of grated apple with some quark, yoghurt, raw oats, sultanas and raw nuts may also be served. And coffee.
Bread with cheese or fruit may be eaten at the 10 minute morning tea break, called “Shnoonies”. Often it is the “second breakfast” for outdoor workers.
The famous Fondue (melted cheese with bread cubes) or Raclette (melted cheese over boiled potatoes and condiments) or roasted sliced meat are special occasion meals.
The main hot meal is mostly eaten around 12:30 and usually a green salad is enjoyed first after being tossed in a light dressing.
Simple potatoe and noodle dishes are common. Such as, boiled potatoes served with quark mixed with dill or shallots alongside 20 minute boiled, then 10 minute baked sausage (smoked or plain) with their ends pre-cut 2 cm deep in a cross. Or perhaps a vegetable pie, lentil soup, goulash or plain hot pasta garnished with caramelised onions could be midweek favourites.
The evening meal is often simply bread, butter, cold meats and several different cheeses. Hot tea made with fresh lemon balm leaves or mint with boiling water and a little honey makes a refreshing accompaniment.
When visitors arrive for “cake and coffee”, the much loved sweet treats appear like Apple strudel or cake or the renown Käsekuchen (Cheese cake), a baked semi sweet cake made with quark - so delicious on its own without any garnish.
Rösti (Swiss) pronounced “roerrshtee” is a Swiss dish, mostly of potatoes, in the style of a fritter. It was originally a breakfast dish. But now eaten as a main midday dish, often with a fried egg on top. It is very filling.
4 medium potatoes
1⁄4 cup butter or 1⁄4 cup margarine
1 small onion, chopped
1⁄2 cup diced gruyere or
1⁄2 cup swiss cheese
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons water
Heat 1 inch salted water to boiling. Add potatoes. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and cook until tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Peel and shred potatoes or cut into 1/4 inch (2cm) strips.
Heat butter in skillet until melted. Add potatoes, onions, and cheese.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook uncovered over medium heat, turning frequently, until potatoes start to brown, about 10 minutes, adding 1 to 2 Tblsp. butter to prevent sticking if necessary.
Press potatoes with spatula to form a flat cake; sprinkle with water. Cover and cook over low heat, without stirring, until bottom is golden brown and crusty, about 10 minutes. Place inverted platter over skillet; invert potatoes onto platter.
To make the Alp Noodle version:
Take out 2 potatoes and add in a handful of pasta noodles and cook the pasta and potatoes (cut into small pieces before cooking) together. Don't shred the cooked potatoes.
Then heat butter, or oil in skillet/pan as above. Just before serving stir through half a cup of apple sauce. (The Swiss serve the apple sauce cold on top, but I think it is easier to stir in before serving so it heats up a little.).
Basic Swiss Salad dressing for Soft Leaf lettuce
3 tablespoons quality White wine vinegar
a third teaspoon salt
Mix together so salt dissolves.
Then add in a teaspoon or 2 of mustard, a pinch of ground black pepper, stir so that mustard breaks down.
Lastly stir in 4 tablespoons Oil. No need to shake the dressing.
Pour over Soft leaf lettuce and decorate with nuts, pumpkins seeds, finely diced radish or carrot strips. Always simple.
From Wengen catch the cable car to Männlichen. Enjoy a little steep walk via the Royal Walk to the Crown and marvel at the 360 degree view.
Then time for coffee at the Sennespielplatz playground at Männlichen. The giant cow slide is surrounded by swings, a seesaw, spinner, bowling, and a rope swing that you can also lie back and relax on in the sun.
Then back on the Panorama trail to Kleine Scheidegg, with easy walking over 4.7 km, (about 2 hours with children) and gradually descending about 200m. The trail is OK for all-terrain strollers with big tires. There are cafes at Kleine Scheidegg but nothing along the way. The train ride back to Wengen and Lauterbrunnen would be a better choice rather than walking if your children are small. And a faster route to the next playground in Wengen J
Look for the time-telling device on the outside back wall of the Lauterbrunnen church.
These early timepieces, when carefully built, are capable of keeping accurate time. The problem is that a sundial uses local solar time so a different sundial for every combination of latitude, longitude, and day of the year is needed.
A simple sundial consists only of a pin or metal rod (called a gnomon) sticking vertically out of a marked disc. The rod casts the sun's shadow onto the marked disc area of the wall.
Even after clocks were invented, sundials were still used to reset inaccurate clocks!
The Schilthorn reaches 2,970 m (9,744 ft) and is a lovely day out to see the James Bond Museum and walk down to Murren and enjoy totally amazing views along the way. The cable car and or train ride up are also a pleasure and you can see where you can then later walk back from the top if you choose. From Schilthorn to Birg, Birg to Murren and Murren to Grutschalp will take you about 4 hours after your lovely lunch at the revolving restaurant on the summit.
From the top of Schilthorn you feel like being on top of the world. There are 2 exit points to pathways out of the Schilthorn. You need to take the one at the front of the building that faces the Birg station to take the easier and safer path down to Borg. The other path takes you down a different valley, so be careful. You will know you will be on the right path when you see this sign with the high heel shoe.
Yep, crazy as it seems, many tourists are trying to get a better picture by tottering and teetering down the rocky path. I have suggested to several tourists before that simple tennis shoes will not be a good idea down the steep and stony path where there is a fixed cable in case the stones slide under your feet and you get that slipping sensation.
I think tourists do not realise that the open red circle means: stop, don’t go here. But hopefully the humour of the shoe heel image would help them to work that out!
After passing Birg and making the cliff walk over the glass and wire pathway – total fun, the path continues along a rocky road and then into ‘Heidi – land’ through the meadows below. Listening to cow bells and sitting in the grass to enjoy the flowers and the towering alps and glaciers around you will see the day disappear fast.
p.s. Hiking boots and sun screen necessary
At some time, your favourite comfortable Ski boots will need replacing. A sad but true necessity. A necessity because sloppy soft boots or any poor fitting boots where your feet have too much movement, will mean that you will not be able to manage your ski edges and control your skis well. It could be dangerous. This will be particularly noticeable on steeper slopes, icy places or that sugary or slushy stuff we surf through in late afternoons.
My 8 year plus boots were OK in the morning but by noon I could not tighten them enough and my skis wobbled constantly. The boots were old and soft. So I hired a pair from Crystal Intersports in Lauterbrunnen for 2 days. Wow oh wow. No wobbling skis, more confidence and better skiing. The hire boots were new Tecnica Mach 1 105 a good boot for women since the heel was narrow so my feet didn’t lift up. And they were so lightweight! The hire person said that if one skis a lot, then one needs new boots every 2 years.
Not having CHF449 I needed to think of another option, though the hire shop did say I could purchase them for CHF350 since they had half a season’s use. Something to ponder on.
In our attic were an ancient 12 year old pair of men’s boots that I had skied in earlier. With a wide foot, I had bought second hand men’s boots that had worked reasonably well. But when I re discovered them, oh my, I could get the top part tight enough but not over the foot and with too much movement my skis were messy and I felt unsafe. So I visited Molitor ski shop in Wengen. There are 3 ski equipment shops in Wengen but I think Molitor offer the most diverse and personalised service and are ever so helpful. One can also buy ski boots there as well as hire. https://www.molitor.ch/en/ Molitor offer an amazing boot fitting analysis and service. https://www.boot-doc.com
They can analyse your feet since most pairs of feet are different in themselves and then custom fit each of your boots to each foot correctly.
The technician was able to retro fit my ancient boots with a neoprene sock to reduce the space and movement in the boot for CHF39. I was invited to ski and try it before paying for it! What great service. Boots that are too big are bad. When buckling up, the technician told me that in a properly sized boot, the buckle clip should be somewhere near the beginning of the buckle ladder or catches.
Ski boot shells are made in different widths and experienced skiers will opt for a narrower boot although the wider boot can be more comfortable around the calf of the leg. The closer the plastic of the boot is to the foot when it is narrow, then the boot has better contact with the ski and so hopefully performs better. The width of the boot is called the "Last" with sizes such as 95, 98, 100, 102, 104mm.
The "Flex" index refers to how stiff the boot is in the forward position. A 98mm last boot in a 100 flex will be stiffer than a 120 flex in a 102mm lasted boot because of the last since the wider the last, the softer the flex will be. The range for flex can be 70 -120. Flex index above 100 are highly responsive and generally offer greater sensitivity for those who ski with confidence, speed and challenging slopes. The ratings are only comparable within each brand. When trying boots in store, they will have a softer flex at the warmer indoor temperature. Cold temperatures stiffen plastic so store your boots off season buckled up and not in a cold place. Also make sure that they are completely dry and clean including dry liners.
Ski boots may have their size printed on them, called Mondo point e.g. Mondo 26.5 women's is about shoe size 9.5 US 41 EU 7.5 UK. Also the boot sole length in millimetres will be stamped near the heel. This is useful for adjusting bindings or trying out skis.
I decided that buying second hand boots is just not an option. Finally I bought some little used ex-rental Dalbello boots (199CHF) that were a size smaller than my old boots! Thanks to the correct fitting by the Molitor technician they are warm, comfortable, so light and I can feel the snow through the skis. Even only 2 weeks skiing a year deserves comfort, ski control and confidence that I think only new hire boots or your own correctly fitted boots can provide.
p.s. If you are hiring or buying ski boots, take along your skis, the socks you would ski in and cut your toenails.
Last month I wrote “yes under your helmet” referring to wearing a thin woollen hat.
Some folks have said to me that a helmet is not essential and can reduce one’s vision and ability to hear. They also said that people can feel artificially safer and so ski/board more recklessly. Also it was said, that having skied for so many years, now in these sunset years why bother?
Head injuries can occur as a result of collision, or impact with the snow. Often at high speed. Research published in the British Medical Journal shows that wearing a helmet reduces head injuries by 35 per cent.
In some regions, wearing a helmet is compulsory. While in France and Switzerland there are no rules, although the ski schools strongly encourage it but in Italy it’s compulsory up to the age of 14.
So why haven’t the Swiss made it mandatory when their culture is typical safety orientated?
The Swiss Council for Accident Prevention say the average ski related head injuries is 17,000 per year. After several prevention campaigns "Enjoy sport – protect yourself" their 2010 report noted extensive research into the increased use of helmets and the effectiveness of wearing a ski helmet. From the available results of the studies, it is impossible to determine whether primarily light or severe injuries can be prevented. Nevertheless, no precise details on the protective effect of a helmet can be given as the results achieved differ according to the study design.
They note that, “It is important that the helmet fits as snugly as comfort allows and that the chin straps are always tightly fastened. The protective effect is strongly dependent on the impact speed of the head against an obstacle or the ground”.
The study noted some useful recommendations such as ski rental companies supplying a helmet free of charge and aerial cableway companies could ensure that only advertising in which snow-sport participants wear helmets is shown in their snow-sport areas. “The message to young people should on no account be that not wearing a helmet is cool.”
Dr Mike Langran, president of the International Society For Skiing Safety, says “But all the people who have looked at the data realise the risk of serious injury is too small to make them mandatory.”
According to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA),there has been an associated 50% reduction in head injuries for those wearing helmets.
The Swiss expect people to take responsibility for themselves and have the freedom of choice while acting sensibly.
Personally, there are enough silly people waving their ski stocks around and inappropriately carrying their skis on their shoulders, to ensure that I put my helmet on around the train station as well as on the slopes.
Image Credit: mape_s
A Polar bear’s coat has two layers of hair: an outer layer, made up of long (5-15cm) clear guard hairs that are hollow core filled with air; and a thick undercoat, made up of shorter hair. When sunlight shines on Polar bear outer guard hairs, it causes a reaction known as luminescence and makes them look white but their hair is clear and the skin is black.
Not saying you need to wear clear clothes like the story about the Emperor’s new clothes, just referring to the layers. Your base “undercoat” close fitting layer needs to wick away moisture e.g. wool or thermal, then a middle layer to trap body heat e.g. a thin down jacket or a thin merino wool jumper. And an outer layer totally waterproof and breathable to protect from the weather (this is totally the most important layer). Repeat for the legs.
Waterproof Gloves or Mittens are a must. Always have a spare pair with you. And thick socks are better than 2 thin pairs that will bunch and scrumple and give you grief and pain. There are even heated versions https://www.ellis-brigham.com/brands/therm-ic
A woollen hat (yes under your helmet) or head scarf on hot sunny days, is also important to reduce your moisture loss and keep your brain functioning. A buff or neck scarf is also a good cold stopper. Always have one with you. And of course eye protection, googles and glasses.
1. Snow is Not White - it is clear and colourless.
“The complex structure of snow crystals results in countless tiny surfaces from which visible light is efficiently reflected. What little sunlight is absorbed by snow is absorbed uniformly over the wavelengths of visible light thus giving snow its white appearance.” (National Snow and Ice Data Center)
2. 12% of the earth’s surface is ice or snow. 80% of all the freshwater on earth is frozen as ice or snow.
3. All snowflakes have 6 sides.
“The oxygen atom has a particularly strong attraction to the electron clouds of the two hydrogen atoms and pulls them closer. This leaves the two hydrogen ends more positively charged, and the center of the “V” more negatively charged. When other water molecules “brush up” against this growing snowflake, strong forces between the negatively charged and positively charged parts of different particles cause them to join together in a very specific three-dimensional pattern with a six-sided symmetry. Each water molecule that joins the snowflake reflects this pattern until eventually we can see its macroscopic six-sided shape.” ( Learner.org)
4. Identical? "it is indeed extremely unlikely that two complex snowflakes will look exactly alike. Nano-snowflakes can be exactly alike. Small snow crystals can look alike.Larger, complex snowflakes are all different. (www.snowcrystlas.com)
5. Snow is a mineral, just like diamonds and salt.
6 At the center of almost every snow crystal is a tiny mote of dust, which can be anything from volcanic ash to a particle from outer space. "As the crystal grows around that speck, its shape is altered by humidity, temperature, and wind; the history of a flake’s descent to Earth is recorded in its intricate design".(http://discovermagazine.com/2008)
7. Freshly fallen snow is typically 90 to 95 percent air, which is what makes it such a good thermal insulator.
8. Don’t eat the yellow snow but also don't eat red snow, either: “Watermelon snow,” ruddy-tinted drifts that smell like fresh watermelon, gets its color from a species of pigmented algae that grows in ice. The snow tastes great, but eating it will give you the runs.
9 Too much snow can drive a person crazy. Pibloktoq, a little-understood hysteria seen in people living in the Arctic, can cause a wide range of symptoms, including echolalia (senseless repetition of overheard words) and running around naked in the snow.
Do you know some other cool things about snow?
1. Start training. If you work a desk job and don’t exercise as often as you would like, use the stairs as often as possible and do squats and some basic exercises indoors at home. Doesn’t have to be at a costly gym to prepare for your ski holiday. It’s doing little things that get your heart rate up that will really make a difference.
2. As Kleine Scheidegg is at altitude ie over 2000m, be sure to pace yourself upon arrival. If you push yourself or do not hydrate or eat adequately during your first couple of days, you may not be able to maximize your skiing experience. Carry water with you while you ski. You will see many skiers with a camel pack.
3. Every day while you are here, check the weather daily (there are great weather cams on https://www.jungfrau.ch) and dress for it. Layers work well. It is easy to add or remove articles of clothing as the temperature rises and falls. Ski with a small back pack.
4. Cover the basics. Wear 30+ sunscreen (and reapply it often), even if it’s overcast as well as proper eye protection. Always have a pair of googles in your jacket or backpack. Additionally, when considering purchasing or renting boots, take your time. This will make yourskiing much more comfortable and pleasant.
5. While skiing, make sure that everyone in your group is skiing at his or her own level and pace. Not everyone can or wants to ski black runs. This will make for a better experience for all. And there is so much variety from Schilthorn, Mannlichen, EIgergletscher, Grindlewald, plenty or long runs for every level.
6. Start out simple and move to more complex runs. Even World Cup ski racers and X-Games athletes start on the easier slopes, jumps, and rails and build up. A great freestyle mantra is: “Pre-ride, re-ride, free-ride.” Keep this in mind as you check out your snow playground opportunities. Starting out on more basic blue slopes, you’ll be more likely to avoid injury and can continue advancing to more difficult black slopes as you familiarize yourself with the weather, the changes of weather through the day, where it might get icy and at what time, ask people on your lift ride. Each day, get a feel for the snow, the groomers are active all night, consider the weather and choose a ‘where to ski plan’ for each couple of hour so you can decide whether to advance or hold off for an extra day.
7. Have you got kids with you? Consider lessons for them too. With instructors, your kids are likely to complain less and to learn and explore more. You will be amazed at their growth in confidence through a week of lessons.
8. Be sure to ski on Day 1. That way, you'll start getting to know the runs and rhythm of the trains and lifts right away. If you decide you want a bigger challenge and need some guidance, go with a pro, take a lesson. It’s always good to take a few lessons every year, you do want to improve don’t you?. An instructor can help you with your technique, suggest the appropriate runs to practice on, challenge you, and show you around the mountains.
9. Many Swiss skiers seems to take a mid-morning break and if it’s sunny, they will enjoy an extra-long lunch on a balcony somewhere to soak up some rays. So make the most of skiing when everyone else is in a food queue.
10. With Jungfrau ski tickets, you can get great discounts on line when you buy at least 21 days in advance. You can also get ski passes from the tourism bureau in Lauterbrunnen.
An average grade mountain path, marked red and white, suitable for confident walkers with strong soled walking boots for slippery sliding rocks. What is not average, is the scenery. From start to finish, you will have a well exercised neck and camera finger.
It’s a highlight. It’s called the Eiger trail. Getting a head start from the Eigergletscher train station above Kleine Scheidegg and then down to Alpiglen is about 3 hours. Many people walk up from Grindlewald or Alpiglen, however beginning from Eigergletscher where you can look out over both sides of Kleine Scheidegg and be fresh to take in its grandeur and breath in deep the mountain air and feel its calmness, rather than being relieved just to make it your finish point if you begin from Alpiglen. Many keen over 70 Swiss people will be making the uphill route.
This moraine path is also part of the 101km Eiger running trail held in July each year. The green dot highlight paint you see on the rocky path here and there are guides for this superhuman race. Walking under the shadow of this 3900m giant or Ogre is it’s translation, is simply awesome. One cannot imagine how it was first climbed in 1858 with the heavy climbing equipment of their day. This ogre has claimed many lives of those who would want a higher view or the base jumpers from the lower mushroom rock on the Eigergletscher side.
It is a majestic mountain. The colours, the changing textures, the hidden gurgling water springs give plenty to discover. But the sense of enormity is the sensation that remains when walking this high way. I praise God for His even greater enormity and I didn’t want the rocks to be crying out while I was crossing over them.
See the tiny person in blue on the path at the bottom of the photo.
Small things are hard to find in this area of massiveness. The mountains, the rocks, the panoramas, all seem just massive and one feels like an ant amongst this massiveness.
Standing in awe at the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau (the EMJ) from Kleine Scheidegg or up from the Lauberhorn behind, continues to be my favourite view. It is a small grassy hill climb up to the Lauberhorn, famous for being the starting peak for the World Cup downhill ski race each January. You can even walk through the starting gate hut. Even here, on the Lauberhorn, the massive mountains, each with their own glaciers, continue to touch the sky and remain massive.
So a small delight on the walk down from Kleine Scheidegg to Wengenalp is this small refection lake. Not known to many, passed by those in a hurry or who are still photographing the EMJ and overlooked as too small to stop for by others. It is worth the stop. Hear the creaking and spot the frogs. Of course you want to capture the reflection of the massive EMJ behind. Here in this Autumn photo, you can see all three mountains. In 12 weeks it will be blanketed under fresh white snow.
Experience closeness to the impact zone on super hot day, after a walk from Lauterbrunnen, when the sky is stunningly blue and arrive along the path behind the cable car that goes up to Schilthorn to the signboard announcing these stunning Mürrenbachfalls,
Wikipedia says "According to studies from the year 2009 the Mürrenbachfall with a fall height of 417 meters is considered the highest waterfall in Switzerland. In this case, the Mürrenbachfall, which had previously been regarded as a cascade, was redefined by geographers into a single case, since they could not find any horizontal planes typical of cascades in the case."
Climb up the grassy slope behind the track and be lured by these giant falls. Coming within about 30 meters to the impact zone one can feel the exhilaration of the spray mist and with roaring in the ears from the water pounding its destination after such a long fall. Picnick under the shade of a tree facing the falls and also enjoy the view to the opposite side of the valley to see the impressive Mattenbach falls 840m high.
Photo taken from balcony of Staubbach bursting over the cliff edge into the Weisse Lütschine
he name Lütschine dervices from the Celtic name leucos or leuca , meaning "white" or "bright, shiny" and so for clarity it became the "Weisse Lütschine". Flowing 8.6 km through from the Stechelberg area through the Lauterbrunnen Valley to Zweilütschinen (two Lütschine). Here it joins the Schwarze Lütschine, or Black Lütschine that has flown 12.3km from Grindelwald. Folk tales say the villagers of Lauterbrunnen never even washed so their could remain white.
Made up of rain, snow melt and ice, each of which has its own footprint in the river water makeup, researchers can determine the origin of the waters from the to the catchment area of the Weisse Lütschine (165 km2). Researchers also consider the influence from soil and geological features over which the waters flow and have found that snowmelt dominates between April and July with an annual total of almost 40% of the runoff at that time. This glacier melt occurs mainly between July and September and reaches a quarter of the annual total outflow of the Weisse Lütschine. The researchers say that the rain component measured and isolated between May and October is striking and contributes a third of the waters for the Weisse Lütschine. (Source: Gabriel Peier, 20.12.2016 Hydrology Group, Bern University http://www.hydrologie.unibe.ch/projekte/poster/Poster_PEIER.pdf)
Where is the Weisse Lütschine’s source? From 72 and more waterfalls and streams flow over the massive magnificent walls surrounding the luminous Lauterbrunnen valley into the rushing, bustling Weisse Lütschine. From the Schilthorn side these include the Sefinenlutchine, Schiltbach and the mighty Murrenbach Falls.
From the south, high up are 5 or 6 contributing streams from the direction of the Mittaghorn, Grosshorn, Tschingelhorn, Gspaltenhron (the pyramid-like shape) and Breithorn (German for "broad horn". Breithorn is the huge concical shining mountain peaked with translucent ice at the southernmost part of the valley. The Breithorn (3,780 m) can often have the mystical pinkish aurora or optical phenomenon at sunset called Alpenglow. This massive straddles the Cantons of Bern and Vallias and is part of the border between Lauterbrunnental and the Lötschental valleys. This Breithorn is not to be mistaken for the other Breithorn near Blatten at 4,164 m and part of the Pennine Alps mountain range.
At Stechelberg, the fervent torrents of the higher up Schmadibrunnen purge into a 60m cascade and force their way from the Breithom Glacier roaring downwards with a noise like thunder to the hydro station. Managing the power of these waters is a constant concern for the valley authorities as they move the rocks around and yet the majesty of these roaring pure waters have their own wilfulness and draw attention, almost demanding to be watched.
At the curved wooden bridge near the power station in Stechelberg one can be lured by several gushing, racy white waters, seemingly always is a hurry to become the impetuous waters of the Lütchine waters that come from the Sefinenlutchine and Schiltbach. Walking upward from Stechelberg towards Gimmelwald is enchanting to watch playful and forceful waters making rock sculptures on their way. The Spiessbach above Gimmelwald pours over a monstrous rocky outcrop under which one can stand and lookout through the curtain of water raging from overhead. A slippery but worthwhile side path from Gimmelwald to Murren.
Below the apartment is a lovely little offshoot stream from the larger Luterbach (meaning clean creek). The Swiss German language often adds a sweet diminutive “lei” sounding like the English “lee” to objects that are small, for example, a small Hund (dog) becomes a Hundlei.
Our Luterbachlei is also a cool delight for tired feet after long mountain walks and to sit on the grassy island and contemplate the Stuabbach Falls opposite. Or one can look for trout making their way up stream. It is mostly about 30 cm deep and flows into the larger White Lütschine at the Tal Museum.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s Rivendell, Sindarin, Imladris, “deep valley in a cleft”, is located on the eastern edge of Eriador, at the foot of the Misty Mountains. Set in that deep valley, which was formed by the action of the river Bruinen (Elvish for “Loudwater”), was besieged on several occasions throughout its lifetime and survived to be the last refuge for the Elves on that side of the mountains. While "lauter" means louder in High German, In Swiss German this would be "luter ". So Lauterbrunnen could mean Clean Well, Brunnen meaning Well or Fountain.
Balcony view of ‘our’ Rivendell. We think it is a close comparison and when walking up to the BBQ hut toward the farm road from the Heliport, it becomes more real.
What about that stone bridge? We think that in Binn a village just 2 hours away, there is a bridge built in 1664 that was quite possibly the inspiration for J.R.R.T., what do you think?
16. If you like to keep small pets like hamsters, you must have at least two so that they don't get lonely. (Mental health care does not apply to cows wearing bells or horn straighteners).
17. If you drink coffee in a cafes serving creamer in tiny tubs, then collect the pictorial lids of these coffee creamers, like stamp or coin collecting.
Migros recalled this ‘nostalgic’ one they sold saying “weren’t images accompanying a book about World War II, but rather something meant to be enjoyed with coffee and a chocolate cake.”
18. Go to Austria for your holidays (unless you're under 30 - then to Australia). Have a low mortgage rate that you never pay off for tax purposes, pay high taxes, follow all the rules since they are there to protect you. Bake Zopf bread on Sundays, celebrate National Day on 1. August and speak at least 3 languages.
19. Keep your military issued weapon clean, ready and safely stored along with your gold. Know the closest location of your nuclear shelter. (Most houses have them, Eyhus’ is downstairs at back of the ski room). Keep your insurances paid up, keep 9 Litres water and 2kg food per person food on hand, always pay your bills on time, be on time and don't argue.
20. Know that Romansch is the 4th national language, that there are 26 Kantons (do not joke that Germany is the 27th) and that Hornesse is also a national sport. Be active, join a club such as yodelling, alp horn playing, singing, card playing, dancing in consume (Trachten), skiing, shooting , football, walking, theatre etc.
11. Take your shoes off before going inside a home and take flowers if invited to dinner, shake everyone's hand when arriving and on leaving.
12. At dinner, wait for the host to say "Prost" before drinking and everyone will clink their glasses with each and everyone while looking them in the eye when clinking. And wait for your host to say "Engoiter" meaning ' enjoy your meal ' before you eat.
13. Never complain. Ensure that everyone votes on a new idea about change through a show of hands without holding a grudge afterwards since everyone is allowed to freely have their own opinion.
14. Use your car (or drive with a friend) as the last option if you are unable to walk, ride a bike, catch a bus/ train to your destination.
15. Get qualified through lessons on how to care for a dog before you get one.
6. Be a clean freak and a neat freak, pick up rubbish when you see it and put it in the bin.
7. Always says 'Hallo' or ' Grewt-zee' on going into a shop or bus and say ' A-dare' when you leave. If you see someone you know, always shake their hand.
8. Look people in the eye when you say Hallo - older people will appear like they are staring or even look you up and down.
9. Walk UP the hill as well as down. E.g. walk up to Wengen is an hour with super views.
10. Reuse, recycle, restore, regenerate, rejuvenate, refurbish, repurpose everything unless you live in the city.
1. Squash your trash as small as you can before putting it into the taxed AVAG bag. Then stand on the AVAG bag as you fill it. All kids are taught these tricks and you will hear the people downstairs doing this occasionally on their balcony. Swiss don't want to pay more taxes than needed.
2. Drink Rivella. Buy Swiss made brands like Aromat salt seasoning, Callier chocolate, Caotina drinking chocolate, Mammut outdoor wear, Dakine back packs, Swatch watch if you your budget doesn't stretch to Breitling or Tag Heuer, to name a few.
3. Eat a large hot lunch such as Rösti and a small cold dinner of bread, cheese and pickles. (Rösti means “crisp and golden,” also a dish of shredded potatoes sauteed on both sides until crisp and golden.)
4. Spread your Swiss butter very thick on your bread.
5. Men always sit on the toilet seat in homes
1. Locally made Cheese called Lauterbruuen Muetcheli – from village Coop, Molkeri or Jungfrau Campground shop.
2. Swiss Sausage called Wurst from village Butcher/Metzgerei in the middle of town. Buy the Jungfrau one.
3. Callier chocolate – the best! From Coop and not available worldwide!
4. Swiss army knife of course! From the watch shop in the middle of the village. Go a few days early to get the receiver’s name engraved.
5. A glacier stone from the Lutchine river. Choose a rounded one because it will be older.
6. A little Swiss sew-on patch or bit of real lace from Trudy’s Gift Bazaar. You will find other fun things there too.
7. Aromat seasoning from Coop – for all your popcorn, soups and cooking needs- Swiss cuisine secret.
8. Keyring from your stay with us www.LoveLauterbrunnen.com
9. A red egg slider from Coop. Light, high heat proof, cheap – great gift for family folks.
10. Lots of photos :)
1. Switzerland is one of the only two countries to have a square flag – the Vatican has the only other square flag in the world.
2. Switzerland is prepared for a nuclear war, if there ever was one. Thers is a bunker in the ski room.
3. In Switzerland citizens can challenge any law passed by Parliament – provided they can gather 50,000 signatures against the law within 100 days. If succesful, a national vote is held and voters decide by a simple majority whether to accept or reject the law.
4. Swiss men have the longest life expectancy in the world – in 2015 life expectancy at birth was 81.3 years for Swiss men and 85.3 years for Swiss women, according to World Health Organization (WHO).
5. Swiss law prohibits owning 'soclal' pets unless you have two of them – this makes it illegal in Switzerland to keep just one guinea pig, mouse, ferret, fish, canary, pig or other social creature. With the world's most stringent animal welfare laws, Switzerland judges isolation for such animals as abuse.
6. There are Swiss taxes for owning a dog – annual taxes are determined by the dog's size and weight. Dog owners are also required to take a training course to learn how to properly care for their pets.
7. There are 208 mountains over 3,000m high – with 24 of them over 4,000m. The highest is Monte Rosa (Dufoursptiz) at 4,634m, situated on the Swiss/Italian border. Jungfrau is 4,158 m.
8. Switzerland is also known as Confoederatio Helvetica – which explains the abbreviation CH. It's officially named the Swiss Confederation for historical reasons, although modern Switzerland is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the federal city. The founding of the Swiss Confederation traditionally dates to 1 August 1291 and is celebrated annually as Swiss National Day when everyone puts out thier flags and usual ther are fireworks.
9. Switzerland has one of the lowest crime rates of industrialised countries despite liberal Swiss gun laws – in 2015 there were only 0.5 gun murders per 100,000 people in Switzerland (around 40 per year), compared to five gun murders per 100,000 people recorded in the US in 2014 (around 30–40 per day).
10. Albert Einstein developed his famous formula E=MC2 in Switzerland – he developed his theory of relativity while studying and living in Bern, after renouncing his German citizenship to avoid military duty.
11. Swiss politics include an anti-powerpoint presentation party – the party's goal is to decrease the use of powerpoint and other presentation software, which it estimates costs Switzerland EUR 2.1 in economic damage.
12. Sundays in Switzerland are protected by a long list of social laws – making it illegal to undertake activities such as mowing, hanging out laundry, washing your car or recycling bottles to ensure peace and beauty is maintained. A peaceful night's sleep is also guaranteed by building rules that frown upon noisy actions after 10pm, which can include peeing standing up, slamming a car door, flushing a toilet or emptying a bath.
13. Women did not gain the vote at federal level until 1971 – and they are still underrepresented in political life, despite Switzerland often being praised as a model of direct democracy.
14. Switzerland lags behind most western European countries in areas of gender equality – in 2015 only 41.3 percent of women worked full-time compared to 83.6 percent of men, and less than 20 percent of all national decision-taking posts were held by women.
15. Foreigners account for nearly 25 percent of the population – one of the highest percentages in the world.
16. The Swiss eat more chocolate than any other nation in the world
17. Swiss proverb says that “Sometimes you have to be silent in order to be heard It's easier to criticize than to do better”.
18. Switzerland has four national languages - French, German, Italian and Romantsch although English is increasingly popular.
Our neighbour was right. Die Eisheiligen (Ice Saints) arrived this morning. It was Sophie, the last one. Huge flakes (3cm) of snow! Our veggie patch neighbour was on her balcony taking photos too.
From centuries-old agricultural experience with spring frosts, Die Eisheiligen or The Ice Saints is the name given to St. Mamertus, St. Pancras, and St. Servatius. They are so named because their feast days fall on the days of May 11, May 12, and May 13 respectively, known as "the black-thorn winter". This period was noted to bring a brief spell of colder weather including the last nightly frosts of the spring in the Northern Hemisphere under the Julian Calendar. The Gregorian Calendar introduced in 1582 moved the days, from the climatic point of view to became May 22–25.
The Swiss weather metro have confirmed exactly these climate things until 1965 measurements were made of ground frosts. However descriptions in literature describe the fall of Eisheiligen in Central Europe over the days of 11 to 14 May (Julian Calendar). Concluding this cold phase is the Cold Sophie on May 15 finally (now 28th May). According to tradition, any frosts after this date should have no threat to agriculture. (Source: http://www.csgnetwork.com/julianmanycalconv.html)
Measurements by the Swiss meteorological department since 1965 acknowledge a slightly higher frequency of ground frosts 22 – 24 May however do not concussively determine this as a particular phase. (Source: http://www.meteoschweiz.admin.ch/home/klima/vergangenheit/klima-der-schweiz/berichte-rund-ums-jahr/die-eisheiligen.html )
Graph shows Frequency of ground frost in April and May 1965-2008, Analyzed for the measurement series Payerne (490 m above sea level. M.)
Certainly this meteorological information is not in the Bernese Oberland area, however the locals say that a late Sophie means a long Summer. A good thought as I watch the unfamiliar low clouds roll past the Staubbach Falls. There is a dusting of icing sugar snow on the pine tree forest on top of the massive cliffs and the snow has become a light rain and the dog walkers are not deterred and day trippers gather in the car park with their self sticks to capture the Staubbach Falls behind them.
Oh what a wonderful morning, bright blue sky so early however with the promise of later clouds from the weather underground that I was hoping would be wrong. Sounds of rushing water everywhere as more snow melts. Some canoeists arrive to put their craft into the White Lütchine for a speedy ride to Lake Thun. They were eager to get going and rushed like the water to get in and keep pace with it. Unlike us watching from the balcony, we were not in a hurry and enjoyed seeing their bobbing helmet heads pass swiftly by and their dedicated driving ladies dove away to probably get a quick coffee before picking up their river men……….Sunday is an extra lovely quiet day, as we and neighbours sit on our balconies soaking in the sun and listening to the noisy waters and watching the world. Water from the tumbling Staubbach Falls, the White Lütchine and the little Lütchine Bächli that runs past the apartment. Nice that one can see little fish in the Bächli though too small for fishing so the youths fish from the larger White Lütchine with a rod and net for an hour, but no luck today.
So much to see from the balcony. Our neighbour in the large house to the left has not planted her vegetable garden yet as she waits for the last Eisheiligen due to finish by 25. May. Day trippers wander into the field in front of the Sportanlage where there are tennis courts and mini-golf…..they get a similar magnificent view of the Staubbach Falls and the Breithorn mountain to the left up the valley as from our our balcony and right now the field is blooming with white and yellow flowers and some purple colour splashes too, all great for photos.
The birds are happy with the weather and sing about it, they must like all the extra leaves worn by the huge trees opposite the apartment. So many different greens and almost covering the church except for the clock and steeple. Spring is here.
Back from a leisurely stroll along the edge of the White Lütchine. We hopped over barbed wire to reach more amazing views of many waterfalls on the Wengen side opposite the Staubbach falls and Buchenbach Falls. It's 6pm and we are still in shorts and short sleeves and back on the balcony listening to the birds’ evening song and watch some dog-walkers along the White Lütchine path opposite as the Sunday evening bells chime ‘ time for supper’. The sonorous bells play again at 6:50 to announce an evening service there and close the day. We enjoyed the balcony until 9pm.
Where dreams begin for outdoor adventures in the inspiring Jungfrau region