Earlier in August we had an incredible escape to the Swiss Alps! Switzerland is a place my parents have always wanted to visit and we went in celebration of my Dad’s 60th Birthday. The scenery is so dramatic that it doesn’t seem real. A week in the fresh air felt so wonderful, and hiking and exploring was a welcome change of pace. I guess Heidi was on to something!
We spent just one night in Zürich with the perfect accommodations at Hotel Kindli. This sweet boutique hotel was everything we were looking for. Beyond its ideal location in Old Town, it was beautifully appointed with a window opening down to the street and plenty of lovely amenities. We loved the self serve tea and espresso station and the fresh flowers around every corner.
Breakfast is offered in the bistro, Restaurant Kindli, every morning. We would have loved to have dined there in the evening as well (but that’ll be a good reason to go back).
We made the most of our short time in the city with lots of strolling, a trip to Lake Zürich, and a late lunch of small plates at Restaurant Münsterhof in one of the historic plazas.
We loved stumbling on fountains full of roses and laughed to see some drunkenly strewn about the city on Sunday morning (presumably by Saturday night revelers).
To walk the cobblestone streets on a Saturday night after dinner to take in cozy bistro scenes and hear the soft chatter of diners and clink of silverware was really a treat.
Our time in Zurich was so short, but I loved every minute and would be thrilled to return and dedicate several days to seeing more of the city. Packing up our bags and leaving Zürich, we took four trains to get to our destination for the week – Wengen!
Nestled in the Alps, Wengen is a car-free town, which only adds to its magic. We definitely got a good workout throughout the week. The town sits at an elevation of 4,000+ feet above sea level, and the roads are STEEP.
We rented a stunning Chalet in Wengen for the week called Chalet Sulegg. I appreciated the Scandinavian design of the rental – which was bright and airy with neutral colors and rustic touches like cowhide stools in the breakfast nook and mounted faux deer heads.
We did a lot hiking during the week, and crashing into this comfy bed was the best reward. Our biggest hike was a 10 mile, 6 hour trek from Schynige Platte to First. The trail offered unbelievable panoramic views of the ice-capped Alps. We were hiking at an elevation of 7,000 ft. for most of the day and it was crazy to see cows and sheep wandering the mountains at incredibly steep grades.
Our trip also coincided with Swiss Day on August 1st, a big celebration of the country’s 725th birthday! We got to partake in the festivities which paid homage to Switzerland’s heritage with Alp Horn players, cow bell ringers, a children’s lantern parade, and fireworks. Back at home from the Chalet we got an amazing view of even more fireworks going off in different towns across the Laterbrunnen Valley.
We re-fueled daily with Swiss specialties like rosti, a traditional dish of meat (and/or) vegetables and cheese. If there’s one thing (besides chocolate) that the Swiss do exceeding well, it’s dairy! We ate our weight in local cheese and had plenty of ice cream as well.
In the town of Gimmelwald, we happily treated ourselves to the self serve fridge in a local farmer’s house. Out working in the fields for the day, they left their home open and trusted you to leave the correct amount for the fresh milk and cheese that you took.
Sticking with the trust theme….another favorite in Gimmelwald was The Honesty Shop. It’s a small storefront with snacks, supplies and some antiques from the town. The shop is totally unmanned and they trust that customers will pay for their purchases. You jot down what you bought and leave the amount in an envelope. Such a fun concept! We loved reading the messages from customers on the bulletin board and the “Be Positive” buttons.
In the Alps, almost all of the homes are Chalets and most are adorned with colorful shutters and flower-filled window boxes. All of the homes have giant wood piles, sitting in wait for cold nights to come. The Swiss also seem to have an affinity for gnome statues, adding even more whimsy to the whole scene.
We were all felt so lucky to experience Switzerland! It was fantastic to spend so much time outdoors and on the move – Bernese Oberland is a hiker’s dream. It was a bucket list trip for sure, but one that I think we’d all be happy to repeat.