I’m just going to say this with no foreplay or anything: the Lauterbrunnen valley is easily the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.
The road up from Italy that eventually crests the first of the Alps and then descends into Lauterbrunnen is absolutely jaw dropping. Unfortunately, I have only one picture of this because my face was pressed against the window with a big shit-eating grin on it for 2 hours straight. After arriving in town, a group of us explored around and found ourselves staring at a few of the many waterfalls as the sun set behind the cliffs. Then we all got blasted drunk of course. The backpacking bar is lovingly known as the Bomb Shelter because it’s literally an old bomb shelter. The beer is good, there’s some country in their mix, and they had the hockey finals on. Good shit.
I played tour guide again on the first morning and dragged my Busabout bestie out for a hike. We saved ourselves the trouble of hiking straight up the cliff (had enough stairs on this trip…) by taking the cable car. From the top, the view was astonishing and only got better as the day went on. We hiked through Murren and onto Gimmelwald before taking another car down on the far side of the valley. I could look across at the glaciers for days. The best way I can think to describe it here for those at home is if you took Jasper National Park and sprinkled it with pixie dust. There’s something not quite real about it. You can feel it. So could Tolkien when he sat up here and started writing about Middle Earth.
We made our way back along the valley floor toward Lauterbrunnen but not without stopping at several of the seemingly hundreds of waterfalls. The rest of the walk back was through fields of wildflowers and little dairy farms. There’s 2 predominant sounds everywhere in the valley: waterfalls and cowbells. The cowbells act a bit like wind chimes, in the sense that they’re just always clanging around in the background. I don’t want to leave!
On the morning of day 2, just about everyone from the bus went and did something epic. I partook in paragliding and, pardon my German, it was fucking awesome. We flew into Interlaken from the cliffs above, the pilot let me drive for a few minutes, we did tricks, and for the 2nd time this trip I felt like a little kid. The mix of adrenaline wearing off and the delayed onset hangover made it a quiet afternoon around the camp. Until the bar opened again. There was a lot of reuniting when more Busabout people arrived, and we were joined by 3 busloads full of Contiki kids. Legendary! There were as many travel stories as there were beers poured.
The next day, I cancelled my stop in Bern to stay here another 2 nights. I seriously don’t want to leave. A couple of us took the train up to Jungfrau, “The Top of Europe.” The train climbs more than 2000 meters elevation from Lauterbrunnen and offers ridiculous views of the valley, and eventually of the peaks and glaciers of the whole Jungfrau region. At the top are incredible viewpoints, ice caves, and a massive Lindt shop, amongst other touristy things. Also enough Indian tourists (and a Bollywood restaurant) that I wondered how long I’d been on the train.
Last night was a proper sendoff and one of my favorite but saddest nights. We hiked out to a massive waterfall and had a fire that I didn’t want to end. The entire remaining crew moved on to France this morning, leaving me to explore solo and finish this trip how I started off. I’ll make my way to Geneva tomorrow for my flight home. Happy trails everyone!