Switzerland: Bernese Oberland

It’s the Switzerland most people see on tv and in postcards, the Switzerland that makes CEOs want to quit their high-paying jobs and commune with sheep and cows on a farm. The Bernese Oberland. I’ve been looking forward to it for months!

BADABING!

But getting to Murren, our home base in the Bernese Oberland for 4 nights, is as easy as scoring a date with Johnny Depp.

The first leg of the journey is made by train. Then a cable car. And then finally, a tram. You can imagine the fun we had doing all this with five suitcases and two babies. Clearly, our numerous train trips haven’t been challenging enough.

The highest village in the Bernese Oberland, Murren cannot be reached by other forms of transport especially not a tour bus. Tenacious travelers, however, are rewarded with stupendous views because Murren is surrounded by a cluster of mountains and waterfalls.

Is this the real life?
Or is this just fantasy?

Anyway, we were drop dead exhausted by the time we arrived in Hotel Bellevue, a charming family run chalet with one of the village’s best restaurant according to TripAdvisor.

The hotel was lovely inside and out. Lovely living room, lovely play area for the wee ones, lovely everything. I saw it and was like ok, I’m just gonna live here permanently. You’d have to drag me out kicking and screaming.

He likes it too.

Yep, let’s just stay here and snuggle forever.

In the end, they didn’t drag me out but I was getting fat sitting down and stuffing myself silly with raclette and pickles from the hotel restaurant.

Louisa in action.

So with a great sigh, I decided to heave my big ass out of the door to experience Murren’s Great Outdoors.

Happy camper.

BIG MISTAKE. Because it rained. Hard. The first drops of rain began to fall AFTER mom and I left our hotel for a hiking tour to the Sprutz Waterfall with our Swiss guide Anne.

That’s Anne.

Our hike started out pleasantly enough. We took a tiny walking path that spliced its way up the mountain, strolling past wildflowers and alpine huts as Anne belted out interesting trivia about Murren between gulps of fresh air. There were bits and pieces of our conversation that I could recall:

Anne: There are 400 people living here.

Me: Wow, so how do you even get away with adultery?

Anne: You can’t. People will find out the next day.

Me *Journalist mode on*: How do you know? You mean people have tried?

Anne: Yes (laughs and proceeds to share some juicy gossip).

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Anne: During summer, the farmers will bring their ships and cows up the mountains to graze.

Me: Yeah, but it’s really steep! Do they ever fall over?

Anne: Yes, if you’re lucky, you can see the injured cow being rescued by a helicopter. It happens.

Me: Wow, and do they get treated in a cow hospital? And live out the rest of their days in crutches instead of being sent to the abbatoir?

Anne: (uncomfortable laughter).

We also took silly pictures like this.

Pretty soon, we had to navigate our way down to the waterfall via some loose, slippery rocks, while snapping pictures with one hand because we’re Asians and we are especially prone to selfie deaths. That’s when God — who was presumably sick of our heedless ways — decided to make it drizzle.

The Sprutz.

Within five minutes, the drizzle had turned into a full-blown downpour and we then had to schlepp as fast as we can downhill, in earth that has turned to mud, trying not to tumble to our deaths and make tomorrow’s front page news for all the wrong reasons.

The treacherous path into Gimmelwald.

We had almost reached Gimmelwald, another more idyllic mountain village, when I slipped and fell — thankfully on my ass and not head because the last thing this world needs is another retard eh.

We made it back in one piece but Anne busted her shoe while I may have dislocated an ass bone (I believe it is called a tailbone but I hate that word because it makes me sound like a monkey) somewhere. At least we’re alive.

The next day, we were all like “Yeah, waterfalls!” — because we weren’t miserably cold or wet enough from yesterday’s thunderstorm — so we went on a hike in the valley floor to get up close to some of Lauterbrunnen’s 72 waterfalls.

Yeah, 72. Not a typo.

Don’t be jealous.

Staubbach falls, the second highest waterfall in Switzerland, is visible from the road. It looks accessible enough so le hubby and I, with our giant two-year-old in a carrier, went for it — we followed the Staubbach falls sign which led to some steps which led to more steps. It continued that way until we wondered if we were on the stairway to heaven.

The look of regret and pain, hidden by a smile.

We were dying of exhaustion by now but we heard the unmistakable sound of water so we climbed some more. After a gazillion stairs and heart palpitations, we arrived…to find that Staubbach was a lot less impressive than Sprutz up close.

What was more impressive, however, was the Trummelbach falls, which you had to pay an CHF11 entry fee for (but of course). Kids below 5 were not allowed inside but I soon found out why. The most dramatic section of Trummelbach is located inside a series of wet caves that could be hazardous to little humans toddling about. And the sound of water, pummeling through the mountains at a rate of 5,200 gallons per second, was deafening enough to rupture eardrums.

The only semi-decent picture I could find of the Trummelbach.

So not only did my ass bone hurt, I was also semi-deaf after emerging into the broad daylight.

The next few days were devoted to walking (or more accurately, sloshing around in mud).

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah.

We did not go up to the Schilthornbahn, the mountain-slash-film-location for the 1969 James Bond because the clouds seemed adamant on pissing on us daily.

Instead, we stuck to the well-marked slopes from Murren, passing many small, wooden cheese huts where cheese are produced and kept.

A cheese hut and a goat. My fantasy is complete.

It is unfortunate you can’t live in them — I would’ve gladly paid to squeeze myself in and live on cheese for the rest of my life. You can, however look for doors with the self-service sign and walk into some stranger’s house to help yourself to some locally produced cheese in the refrigerator.

A village full of honest folks.

Of course, they expect you to pay for it — if you’re thinking of stealing from farmers, even Swiss ones, then you should be in a mental hospital eh.

Meanwhile, we spent our evenings hanging out by the fireplace, swimming in the Sports Centre and loading up on carbs the hotel restaurant, which, by the way, should be paying ME instead for this great publicity I’m giving them. Our Korean friends also came to visit us all the way from London.

Friends and family.

Life in Murren couldn’t be any more perfect. Actually it could if it bloody well stopped raining. But I guess one cannot have it all eh.

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