Sunday, May 22, 2016

Wandering Through Wengen, Switzerland

Matt's cousin Nathan, his wife Sarah, and brother-in-law Todd are currently on a whirlwind work trip/vacation around Europe, so we decided to pile into the car and join them for a few days of adventures in the Swiss Alps.  

Lots of snow.  In late May.
Sarah and Todd stayed in Wengen as children, so they decided to visit again as adults.  We had been hoping to visit this area of Switzerland, so we were happy they made the recommendation.  

Wengen is a carless village that is only reached by mountain train and is about 2000 feet in elevation above Innsbruck.  After a mad dash to make the once-per-hour departure, we hopped on the train for the 15 minute journey up to Wengen.  The Wengernalp railway is a rack railway that uses a cog wheel to manage the steap grade, just like the Zacke train that travels behind our apartment in Stuttgart.  The train ride up made for some great views of the villages in the valley below.

For sale:  Cute house.  Comes with dramatic waterfall in backyard.
And we were treated to some amazing views of the moon over the Alps that night.

Kind of spooky, right?
We were lucky to have Kristin's mom join us on the trip, so Natalie got to have a fun day with her Nana in Wengen while we tackled a long hike in the mountains with Nathan, Sara and Todd.  The weather was lovely in Wengen as we started our trek up to Kleine Scheidegg.  

In May, a number of the area hikes are still closed due to snow, but we worked with the Tourist Information folks in Wengen to find a big loop around the Mannlichen mountain that would be open this early in the season.  We've heard great things about the hike from Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg, so we are excited to tackle that one later in the year.    


We started at 4,180 feet in Wengen and made it up to a well-deserved lunch at 6,762 feet at Kleine Scheidegg.  The views along the way were amazing as we got closer and closer to the snow line.

This girl wouldn't have made it without all the food she smuggled out of the men's backpacks.
Kleine Scheidegg is the departure point for the Jungfrau railway, a 120 year old rack rail system that tunnels through neighboring mountains and ends at the highest train station in Europe on the mountain called Jungfrau.  More than a half million tourists take the Jungfrau railway up for spectacular views over Europe.  Although we skipped the train to the top of Europe (and its $200+ pricetag), the views were still pretty spectacular from down below.
This guy looks like he just started the hike. Unfair.
We descended nearly 3,400 feet down to the town of Grindelwald.  Our legs were achy, but our spirits were high after completing the 10+ mile hike.  Nathan and Sarah wanted to keep going, but we convinced them that showers and food were a much better option.  We stumbled into the train back to Wengen and celebrated our success with a fantastic dinner at our hotel, the Alpenrose. 

This is not flat.  And does not feel nice on the knees 8 miles in.  But it is quite lovely to look at.
Even Natalie and her Nana survived the day.  But you've got to be in pretty good spirits if this is the view from your room.  

After the most beautiful weather the day before that topped 70 in Wengen, we were surprised to wake up to lots of big, wet snowflakes.  It made for a lovely atmosphere on our way out of the village.

Many thanks to Nathan, Sarah and Todd for letting us join them on their stop in Switzerland.  A great weekend all around.

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