I can’t quite believe my luck, I’m leading two of the new Adagio Lazy Alps tours this summer. The photo on the front of the Adagio Brochure looks out of this world and only a couple of years ago I walked the classic ridge route from Schynige Platte to Bachalpsee. First, with my husband Paul, so I know the photo isn’t lying.
I’ve recently finished two tours with groups of people who wanted to enjoy all that the mountains have to offer and truly I can say that all my expectations have been surpassed.
We get off to a great start by taking the cogwheel railway up to Wengen. There are splendid views of the Lauterbrunnen Valley and the Jungfrau and cameras are out straight away. A short walk takes us to the very hospitable, historic Hotel Falken where Buddy (the hotel owner Sina’s cocker spaniel puppy) is waiting along with a welcoming drink. It’s after 9pm and we go into the elegant dining room for an excellent 4 course meal, the first of many such. Most evenings a superb improvising pianist plays before and after dinner and this enhances the elegant and relaxed character and atmosphere of this splendid Swiss Alpine Hotel.
Wengen is placed on a south facing shelf above the famous and spectacular Lauterbrunnen Valley. Stechelberg at the head of the valley is where the early 19th-century climbers first found a route to the summit of the Jungfrau. Nowadays the village has a cafe / restaurant famous for homemade Black Forest Gateau ……. and oh dear someone had to try it out!
From Wengen there are breathtaking views of the Jungfrau and the Breithorn. Car free and only accessible on foot or by cogwheel railway, it is a haven of tranquillity and popular with visitors summer and winter.
The week passes quickly, indeed some renamed it The Busy Alps! There are too many options to mention but the highlights have got to be walking under The Eiger North Wall to Brandegg, over towards the Eiger glacier meltwaters at Biglen Alp, along The Lauterbrunnen Valley to look at the huge cascades, the funicular ride to Schynige Platte with its Alpine garden and splendid views, the gondola ride from Grindelwald to First. All of these are accessed by the world famous Swiss system of railways, cable cars and funiculars with their friendly, helpful staff………all we have to do is remember to keep our 6-day passes with us. Cruises on Lakes Brienz and Thun and trips to The Jungfraujoch and The Piz Gloria revolving restaurant of James Bond fame are also possible non rail pass options.
The culture, history and philosophy of Alpine mountaineering, the structure and majesty of the mountains are palpable all the time, as are the stories of the many who tried and lost their lives in bids to conquer The Eiger North Wall routes, over many decades ( see Heinrich Harrer ’s The White Spider for a classic account). All of this leads to questions about how we modern day travellers fit in.
Of course for me, the people always make the tour, and in the 2 weeks we have had to explore all the options, I’ve enjoyed the company of x40 happy and entertaining people. Of course the weather in the mountains keeps changing and while one group had more sun, the other was compensated by a better range of wild flowers. I’ve acquired a large Swiss pencil flag (to make me more visible), and a cowbell and somehow I’ve misplaced a yodelling bear ……….as you do!
So I hope my enthusiasm is infectious and YOU will want to give this tour a go. As for me, well these have been outstandingly brilliant tours and somehow I’ve managed to wangle one more week there in September.