The views on the way to Lauterbrunnen were amazing. The only downside was that our itinerary had 3 connections, which meant 4 different trains spanning 3.5h. Unfortunately, it was the only route from Zurich that put us on the Luzern-Interlaken Express, a Golden Pass line that has all panorama-style coaches with large windows for open views of the landscape. Just a heads up that this post is going to be picture-heavy. The Swiss countryside is just too nice.
Since we knew we only wanted a short look at Zurich, we had ourselves booked on a 10am out of the city to make sure we maximized our time in Lauterbrunnen. As far as what the landscape was like on the way over, I’ll just let the pictures do the talking:
We arrived in Lauterbrunnen at half past one and began the short 5-minute walk to our next Airbnb. Not surprisingly, Lauterbrunnen has no chain hotels, and like with Zurich, prices for an Airbnb ($113/night total) vs. a hotel ($175+/night) had us opt to save points here and go with an Airbnb.
Getting off the train, we realized that most other passengers were only there for a day trip. We chose to stay in Lauterbrunnen as it was supposed to have a cozy, small-town feel, not to mention it sits deep in a mountain valley. The other option was the more popular city of Interlaken, which is a great travel hub for the region, but not that picturesque itself. As we started to walk through the town, we felt we made the right choice.
The low price of the Airbnb apartment did have one caveat: The apartment was essentially a converted attic, so the ceilings were low and slanted. However, seeing several dozen 5-star reviews that mentioned that the ceilings were not an issue, we figured we’d be okay. We got into the apartment without issue and were pleasantly surprised. We figured we’d feel at least a little cramped with the low ceilings, but the fact that the apartment had separate bedroom, living room, and kitchen areas made it feel very spacious. I saw reviews of 4-person stays and I could imagine those might be a little crowded, but for 2 people, it was perfectly fine. The best part was definitely the view out of the bedroom and living room windows.
After settling in, we took a walk down the road to see one of the town’s main attractions: Staubbach Falls. To be honest, I can’t say it was all that spectacular, but to be fair, this is probably the worst time of the year for the flow. I’ve seen pictures of it in April-May and it looks like a real, roaring waterfall. One cool thing is the trail that leads you up and behind the falls. Again, you’ll probably get a much better experience during a time of year when the water flow is higher, but the view is worth the short walk up.
Trümmelbach Falls walk
The next day, we spent half the day taking our time on a leisurely walk out to nearby Trümmelbach Falls, a series of waterfalls inside of the mountains only accessible by a tunnel-funicular. The walk is supposed to take about 40 minutes, but with all our stops to pet goats and watch paragliders sail through the valley, it probably took us about double that. We got to the entrance and had a bit of a change of heart about paying the $11 per person to take the funicular up into the mountain, so we just split a sandwich and headed back home to cook dinner.
During our time in Lauterbrunnen, we decided we’d cook most of our meals, which was also part of the decision to go with an Airbnb apartment instead of a hotel. We we very surprised at how inexpensive the local mini-supermarket was, and not just compared to Zurich. The international section was pricey ($1.90 for Shin ramen) and chicken was more than we thought it would be ($4.40 for half a chicken), but everything else was cheaper than expected. Not counting a cafe/bar visit for a sprizz for T and the sandwich we split on the Trümmelbach Falls walk, we spent a total of roughly $40 for meals, snacks, and drinks the entire 3.5 days were were there. Way less than we thought we’d spend, which is always nice.
For our last full day in Switzerland, we planned to take a short trip to visit Lake Brienz, which was a little less than an hour away, but rain shut down those plans. Normally, we would’ve been worried about “wasting” a day, even with the rain, but at this point, we had already decided that we’re definitely going to come back and see more of Switzerland, so we were okay with taking a chill day. Aside from popping out for groceries, we just hung out in the apartment and watched a few episodes of our latest Netflix show, a Spanish series called Money Heist (or La Casa De Papel). It’s not perfect, but it’s a fun cat and mouse thriller. Plus, it’s good Spanish practice. Hola.
Auf Wiedersehen or au revoir?
The next morning, we packed up and jumped on a train out to Geneva Airport to catch our EasyJet flight. Like most of our upcoming flights in Europe, we opted for a LCC (low-cost carrier), since their cash prices are too low to justify using miles. Although people seem to be getting used to them at this point, these are the carriers that often elicit complaints about charging for bags and seat selection and not serving drinks or peanuts. The complaints usually don’t mention the fact that the flight was probably significantly cheaper than a flight with free bags or drinks and snacks. For this flight, we paid $47 each, all-in. 7
We arrived nice and early and spent some time in the Swiss Business lounge, thanks to Priority Pass, of course. The lounge had a surprisingly good selection of food, as well as an ice cream selection. In addition to the water, soda, and hard liquor, it also had self-serve Heineken and Ittinger on tap – a waste on me, as usual. The Air France/KLM lounge, another Priority Pass lounge, was right next door. I didn’t opt for a visit, but I should’ve, just to check it out.
After stuffing ourselves with tomato soup, falafel, and quinoa, we hopped onto our flight to our next destination, Porto, Portugal, where we’ll be for 7 nights before heading down to Lisbon. I’m looking forward to the food, the beaches, and counting how many times I accidentally respond to Portuguese with Spanish.