Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Visit to Murren, Switzerland - Oct 13th and 14th.

Paula and I have always wanted to visit Murren.  I was on a web site last week and discovered that the hotel where we wanted to stay would be closing from Oct. 15th until Dec. 15th, so I immediately made a reservation.  We left Saturday morning, from Vevey, via train, which took about 3 hours and 3 train changes to reach Lauterbrunnen.

Murren is a mountainside village in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, in the German region of Switzerland, at 5,361 feet above sea level.  It is a marvelous car-free mountain village, rich in tradition and originally the home of settlers from the Lotschen Valley in the Valais Region (Southwestern Switzerland, near Lake Geneva). Tourism is popular through the summer and winter.  

The village is perched on a high, sunny terrace facing the famous Eiger, Monch (Monk) and Jungfrau mountains.  It is the highest altitude ski resort in the Bernese Oberland. The village is nestled at the foot of the Schilthorn with its revolving Piz Gloria Restaurant, made world-famous by the James Bond 007 film.

The history of Murren dates back to the year 1257, when it was first documented as the "Dorf auf der Mauer" german for (Village on the Wall). Over the centuries its name has been written in a variety of ways: Montem Murren, Murron, Murn, Mürn, Murne, Myrrhen, and Mürren.

We arrived by taking a cable car from Lauterbrunnen ( 2,608 ft.) to Grutschalp (4,885 ft.) and then a train from Grutschalp to Murren, in all, about a 35 minute trip.

Hotel Alpina.  This is the hotel where we has always wanted to stay.  Our room faced the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountains.

A view from the cable car as it leaves Murren (5,361 ft.) on its way to Birg (8,783 ft.), in the background, which is the last transfer station prior to taking the cable car to the top of Schilthorn.

Fall is here, as you can see by the changing of the leaves.

Arriving at the top of Schilthorn (9,744 ft.)

Paula, with the Eiger (13,026 ft), Monch (13,475 ft.) and Jungfrau (13,642 ft.) mountains in the background.

The Piz Gloria restaurant.  

Schilthorn has already had its first snow of the season.

Given the difficult topographic and climatic conditions, construction units were prefabricated. The outer skin of the glass circular upper floor is of aluminum-skinned  wooden panels, that originally was an aluminum-coated tent roof. The rotative mechanism — a 40 foot diameter core with a 10 foot ring that completely rotates the upper floor in approximately 45 minutes — allows every guest to have a view. In 1990, the restaurant was enlarged to accommodate some 400 diners, while retaining its original architectural character.
The name Piz Gloria originated in Ian Fleming's James Bond novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963), wherein the hideout of the villain, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, is Piz Gloria, a mountain-top building containing an allergies investigation clinic. In the movie the location is implied as being near St Moritz where Romansh is still spoken, and "Piz" would be appropriate as the dialect name for peak. However the restaurant is actually located in the Bernese Oberland area, where Romansh is not spoken and "piz" is not used.
The movie production team found the restaurant partly constructed, and financially contributed to its completion in return for exclusive use for filming the movie (released in 1969), where the building is shown quite prominently.
In the film, Bond's cover at the clinic is blown after he is caught seducing women, but he manages to escape the complex by skiing down the mountain sides despite the attempts of Blofeld and his men to kill him.
Afterwards, the restaurant retained the Piz Gloria name of the film location, and currently acknowledges the film's significant contribution to its commercial reputation; on the lower floor it features a James Bond exhibition, containing memorabilia and film clips.
The world's highest revolving restaurant is now the Metro-Alpin restaurant at (11,483 ft.) at the top of the Saas-Fee lift system, which is about 90 miles southeast of Vevey. The Piz Gloria is (9,744 ft.) and third revolving restaurant, the Kuklos, (6,719 ft.) which is located above Leysin, about 26 miles southeast of Vevey.
It was strange to see a blackbird, at an elevation of around 10,000 ft.  He was not scared on humans, he just wanted someone to give him some food.
A view from Schilthorn with Lake Thun, near Interlaken, in the background.
After we returned from Schilthorn, we decided to hike to Gimmelwald.  On our way we past the Murren Protestant church.

We also went eye ball to eye ball with this Swiss calf who thinks the grass is better on the other side of the fence.

After a hike of about 45 minutes from Murren, we arrived in Gimmelwald (4,485 ft.).

As the sign reads, this is "Europe's First Unattended Self Service Village Shop".  

Inside the shop is a stack of paper and envelopes.  When you buy something, you write down the item and the price and place the piece of paper and the money into an envelope and insert it into the cash box.  

According to a sign, inside the shop, 50% of the selling price is donated to charity.

One of the many buildings in Gimmelwald.  As is prevalent through out Switzerland, everything is in order.  The wood is nicely stacked for winter.  Even through it is late in the year, the flowers are still very beautiful.
A view of the main street of Gimmelwald.

A view of the mountains as dusk starts to settle over the village.

It was getting late, so rather than hike from Gimmelwald to Murren, we ride the cable car.  This is a view of Murren as it starts to get dark.

Another view of Murren.  The mountains in the background are absolutely awesome.

Staubbach Falls, one of the 72 thundering waterfalls in the Lauterbrunnen valley.  

The village of Lauterbrunnen is situated in one of the most impressive trough valleys in the Alps, between gigantic rock faces and mountain peaks. Lauterbrunnen Valley,

with its secluded valleys, colorful alpine meadows and lonely mountain inns, is one of the biggest nature conservation areas in Switzerland

The Trummelbach Falls (In German: Trümmelbachfälle) are a series of ten glacier-waterfalls inside a mountain made accessible by tunnel-lift and illuminated tunnel paths.

The Trummelbach drains the mighty glaciers of the Eiger (13,026 ft), the Monch (13,475 ft) and the Jungfrau (13,642 ft) and carries 20,200 tons of boulder debris per year.
Its drainage area is over 10 square miles, half of it covered by snow and glaciers. The falls carry up to 5,283 gallons of water per second.  These are the only glacier-waterfalls, in Europe, that is inside a mountain and still accessible.

I am only showing a few of the falls, not all 10.  However, they are all very impressive.  The noise inside the mountain is incredible.  It seems noisier than standing next to a jet engine.

The most famous falls are named The Corkscrew.  This picture does not convey all of the twists and turns it makes on its way down the inside of the mountain.

A view of the Lauterbrunnen Valley from Trummelbach Falls.

Thus, we ended our stay and headed back to Vevey to start another week.

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