Saturday 22nd June
We arrived in Zurich to a welcoming 22 degrees C having left behind the drizzle of Heathrow and the intrepid group of 19 Wengen Adagio pioneers were met with a warm smile by our Adagio Specialist, Eileen, and set off by luxury air-conditioned coach for Wengen.
Passing through wonderful green meadows, we skirted Lucerne and her lake and headed towards Interlaken. En route the hillsides turned to mountains and we caught our first glimpse of the snow capped peaks as the scenery became ever more impressive and we climbed over the pass and zigzagged down to the clear blue waters of Lake Brienzersee. Turning south we caught our first glimpse of the Jungfrau in all her snow covered splendour, before we arrived at Lauterbrunnan railway station.
The final 20 minutes of our journey was covered by cog railway as we travelled ever higher up towards Wengen. In true Swiss style the train departed exactly on time before arriving at our destination some 18 minutes later. A pleasant 5 minute stroll to stretch our legs bought us to the wonderfully situated Hotel Falken, our base for the next few days where we were greeted with a welcoming drink by the owner.
What followed was a truly wonderful introduction to the delights of the Falken kitchen; a magnificent 4 course dinner, accompanied by local beer and finished off with Apple Fritters!!!
After an exhausting but thrilling day travelling, it was early to bed for most of the Adagio group.
Sunday 23rd June
Awoken by church bells we all enjoyed a hearty buffet breakfast of cereals, fruit juice, coffee or tea, yoghurts and a selection of homemade breads.
Our Adagio Specialist, Eileen, gave us a comprehensive briefing on what to expect over the next few days, including issuing us all with our Jungfrau Pass. Included within the holiday price, this pass entitled us to extensive travel throughout the Jungfrau region, including railways, cable cars and gondolas.
We caught the 10.07am cable car to Mannlichen at 2227m, which had just had a recent covering of light snow before heading down on the gondolas to Holenstein at 1529m. There followed a beautiful lazy 2 ½ hour walk through flower laden meadows, chocolate box images of Swiss cows with their traditional bells, wooded slopes and gushing streams full of melted snow from the mountain tops. A flower lover’s paradise with, amongst numerous other species, beautiful examples of spring gentian, birds nest and fragrant orchids, geraniums and paskque flowers.
Arriving at Brandegg for lunch, we tasted even more apple fritters, this time with cream(!!), before boarding the cog train to Kliene Scheidegg. Light drizzle greeted us at the top, the station resembling a mini Clapham junction at a height of 2061m, with lines going in all directions including the famous Jungfraujoch train to the ‘ Top of Europe ‘, at 3454m the highest railway station in the world. Mental note: one for later in the week!!
Finally the cog railway back down to Wengen, followed by a welcoming coffee and cake in the village. Another superb 4 course dinner preceded an impromptu demonstration by some village folk of yodelling and the Alpenhorn. A lovely close to what had been a great experience of our first full Adagio Lazy Alps day.
Monday 24th June
Light rain greeted us as we woke to our 2nd full day in Wengen. However, the majority of an intrepid Adagio group departed for a picturesque 2 hour amble around the environs of the village, where some spectacular typical Swiss chalet houses were viewed. Continuing into the woods and meadows, some fiercely flowing steams were buoyed by the overnight and continuing rain, providing a beautiful backdrop of sound. Continuing to the Staubbachbankli terrace for views to the Staubbach waterfall and then onto Wengen station, dropping down to Lauterbrunnen on the cog railway.
A welcoming bowl of soup was very grateful as we dried ourselves in a café in town before we set off along the valley floor to the Trummel Bach Falls. 60 minutes later we arrived at the falls, hidden inside the rock face. The ten glacier waterfalls are made accessible by a lift, tunnels and are illuminated. Draining the mighty glaciers of the Eiger, Monch and the Jungfrau, the waterfalls carry an astonishing 20,000 litres per second!!
A short bus ride back to Lauterbrunnen and the now familiar cog railway returned us to Wengen where a number of the party again headed to the bakery for a well-earned coffee and cake.
The twinkling of the Falken resident pianist helped soothe the weary Adagio guest’s limbs both before and after another superb offering from the Falken kitchen
Tuesday 25th June
Day 4 appeared a little brighter and a full complement of Adagio clients waited by Wenger station and viewed the bi-annual astonishing scene of some 80 / 90 cows parading through the village streets en-route into the upper meadows for the summer. Seniority was obviously determined by the size of the bell each cow carried, the elders festooned with the largest bells ever seen!! A remarkable sight and sound!
Ever reliable cog railway down to Lauterbrunnen, change for the train to Wilderswil and another cog railway 1250m up the mountain saw us arrive in Schynige Platte. Some of the flower enthusiasts remained at the excellent botanical alpine gardens, featuring over 600 species of alpine flowers, whilst the remainder of the group took a delightful 90 minute walk on the top of the plateau, on a level with the snow line, passing the Oberberghorn summit. Whilst wet and muddy underfoot due to the recent overnight dusting of snow, the views over the lakes of Thun and Brienzersee some 15oom below us from the narrow ridge were stunning.
All too soon it was time to leave Schynige Platte, and reverse our now familiar journey back to Wengen in time for a late afternoon tea and cakes. Dinner was once again enjoyed as the Adagio group recalled their experiences of another remarkable day.
Wednesday 26th June
Awaking on my final day in Wengen to similar weather as the last few days, my spirits were a little deflated. Will we ever see the mountains in their full glory before returning to the UK?
Our destination today was Murren at 1645m, on the opposite side if the valley to Wengen. The now familiar cog railway down to Lauterbrunnen was followed by cable car to Grutschald. At this point some of the group opted to travel by a delightful single carriage train to Murren whilst the majority set off along yet another delightful path to our destination via Winteregg through yet more meadows full of delightful flowers and woodland.
At last the sun showed its face and slowly the clouds parted to reveal astonishing views of the Jungfrau ridge in all its snow covered glory; a sight we had waited 4 days for. The delightful little mountain village of Murren did not disappoint either and lunch was taken at the bakery and eaten overlooking the Jungfrau in full sunshine.
Many of the group returned via Grutschald to Lauterbrunnen and onto Wengen, whilst a hardy few, including our wonderful Adagio specialist Eileen, elected to stroll down through the meadows to Gimmerwald and to the valley floor at Stechleberg. A short bus ride back to Lauterbrunnen and the cog railway up to our base in Wengen before my final night with Adagio clients, who had a further 3 days still to go, and back to the UK the following morning.
The Lazy Alps – a perfect description for what was a wonderful few days in The Bernese Oberland in one of Europe’s most beautiful destinations. Adagio – it does what is says on the tin.
Auf Wiedersehen Wengen – I shall be back