Tag Archives: Switzerland

a walk thru the alps day 12: riviera (the end!)

Day 12: Leysin to Montreaux
Distance: unknown

Today officially ends our Alpine Pass Route hike. Our final descent took us through vineyards, alongside a castle and through what felt like sleepy French villages. We are staying tonight in Vevey, the home of milk chocolate and right next to Montreaux.

When we arrived into Montreaux we were greeted with palm trees, banana plants and plumeria–definitely a different flora than the Alpine Pass Route.

Total mileage: 250 km, more or less

Katy: “I like waffles. Belgian, not leggo my eggo. I need some kale.”

Courtney: “My body needs a cheese detox.”

Kim: She left us in Lenk for Bulgaria.

Some of our highlights:

-small cheese self-service huts–alp kases

-the waterfall view out our window in Lauterbrunnen


-lovely British couple who told us about their travels and inspired us to do more

-composing posts, especially while sitting on the bank of a giant Swiss lake while drinking wine and watching clouds

-wonderfully friendly and gracious hotel and hostel owners, especially the owners of the Hotel Garni Alpina in Lenk

-Santa Cruz Steve

-cheerful and fun companions

-rosti with fried cheese and bacon at the train station in Grindelwald


-the man in spandex who just roller skated by

-inspiring home vegetable gardens in every yard (if the Swiss grow so much chard, why isn’t it on any menus?)

-cows, with melodious bells

-getting to know the Eiger from every angle

-differently flushing toilets

-turnstiles between pastures

-learning a bit of French and a bit of German

-glorious mountain vistas

-figuring out Swiss transport systems

That’s it for the walk thru the alps travelogue.

A’ toute a’ l’heure…



a walk thru the alps day 11: random

Today we left both the Via Alpina and the Alpine Pass Route behind based solely on hotel availability. The detour proved to be both fortuitous and amusing (Katy’ sentence, she’s an English teacher). Read on.

1. Morning disagreement over price, in two languages, with hotel matron. We stood our ground and smiled and all was well. Meanwhile, entire restaurant of French Swiss old men looked on.

2. Our hike today took us along and on a major and quite paved highway. But all was well.

3. A tank. By the side of the road. We thought the Swiss were neutral. What’s up with that?

4. Upon arriving at Col Des Mosses, the tiny endpoint hamlet of our hike, we were welcomed by a straggling flea market complete with antiques, kitchy Swiss tourist baubles, freshly made raclettte, and an accordion playing English singing French Swiss hillbilly. As if that weren’t enough, toward the end of the flea market we came upon two stalls and heard a familiar language being spoken. The vendors were indigenous Ecuadorians from Quito selling traditional wares such as bags, sweaters, and wool hats. It was a crazy merging of worlds.

5. Our hotel tonight, for which we are paying less than the camping dorm of three nights ago, happens to have not just a pool, but a jacuzzi, sauna, and a hamam (steamroom) and views, from the balcony, of glacier topped peaks. It’s supply and demand–this empty off-season ski town appears happy to have the business.

6. Han Lung Restaurant. Delicious Chinese food, the first we’ve encountered on the trip. Well worth it. Even the banana beignets we had for dessert were amazing.

All in all, a detour well worth taking. Tomorrow to Montreaux, our final day of hiking.

Bon Soir. (I’m learning French. What else are you going to do while hiking along the highway?)




a walk thru the alps day 10: twilight zone

Day 10: Lenk to Gstaad (and then to Chateux d’oex
Distance: 21km
Elevation: uphill, then long gradual downhill
Eats: the usual, plus an amazing gnocchi in Lenk and a gracious breakfast at Hotel Alpina

A few impressions:

-river valleys are much more gradual (read, less punishing) than glacial valleys
-We’ve pretty much left the land of ‘gruetsee’ and entered the land of ‘bonjour’
-just because a hike is gradual does not make 21km easy
-Switzerland is a beautiful country. Even an ‘average’ valley is picturesque.

The craziest part of yesterday, however, was descending into the town of Gstaad which was straight out of the twighlight zone, filled with stepford wives wearing sweaters over their shoulders, men driving Bentleys, and a chalet style Prada store. Needless to say, we stuck out like smelly sore thumbs and quickly caught a train to find accommodation in a less ‘steep’ town, Chateux d’Oex.

The hotel we had booked, Hotel Buffet de la Gare, (the buffet hotel by the train) was surprisingly, right by the train station. Imagine yourself in an old Alfred Hitchcock film, set in a buffet hotel by a train station and you’ve got a pretty good mental image.

Chateaux d’Oex is a small ski town, definitely in the French region of Switzerland. Lucky for me, Katy and Courtney speak French and are enjoying practicing their skills.

Today, since we strayed from the Alpine Pass Route to find affordable accommodation, today’s hike isn’t officially on either that or the Via Alpina. With the amazing signage of Swiss trails, we should be in good shape to arrive in Leysin (where our hotel is said to have a jacuzzi!!) for our last day of hiking tomorrow.


a walk thru the alps day 5: mythical

Day 5: Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnen
Distance: 19km
Elevation: gained 3500ft dropped 4500ft
Eats: delicious fresh grainy bread, coffee, cheese, fresh local yogurt, creamy vegetable soup in a bread bowl, crisp local apples, chocolate, ovomaltine

Soup in a bread bowl…looking out at a spectacular view: the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau–three of Switzerland’s most famous peaks, glaciers carving a path through them. It’s stunning.

Mythical. That is the word of the day according to Kim. From our lunch break overlooking the three peaks, to our destination–Lauterbrunnen, the idyllic valley that inspired Tolkein’s Rivendell, mythical just about sums it up.

The hiking was somewhat brutal–fairly straight down from the pass, which is a bit rough on the knees. Apparently that’s why all the tour groups take the bus/railroad options. It is a bit disheartening to arrive at the top of a three hour climb and have to wind your way thru a huge tour group decked out in their mountain garb. Though the views from the hike were amazing.

Even more amazing is our accommodation for the night. There were no rooms left at the town hostels so we are in a hotel…only one letter different but a world apart, both in price tag but also in comfort–a private bathroom in our very own room (instead of down the hall), beds with soft sheets (instead of using our ‘sleep sacks’) and plush towels (instead of using our travel towels that are more like chammies) and even a tv (that we have yet to turn on) but most impressive, a balcony view of a waterfall and valley that’d give Yosemite a run for it’s money. Mythical. Spectacular. Stunning. It’s hard not to keep repeating words like that.

A few more Swiss impressions:

-if Switzerland is always neutral, what’s up with the Swiss army knives? (Katy wants to know)

-Swiss cheese is WAY better than swiss cheese

-the wood stacking (along every cabin/barn) would make the most OCD amongst us proud

-almost every house has a vegetable garden overflowing with chard, kale, lettuce, beans, as well as many colorful flowers–perhaps the long winters explain the brief explosion of color…

Tomorrow we have a short three hour day, though straight up the valley wall, to a car-less village and hopefully a trip up the Schilthorn…