One of the areas I was most excited to visit was the Jungfrau region (within Bernese Oberland), which includes Interlaken, Grindelwald, Wengen, Mürren, and Lauterbrunnen. The region is named after the famous mountain Jungfrau (the name means virgin in German). When I was researching activities, I had noted down visiting the Jungfraujoch (The Top of Europe), but we had visited Zermatt and the Matterhorn the previous day, so we wanted a little more green landscape.
A couple weeks before we left, I decided that it would be amazing to have a photography session in Switzerland to commemorate our anniversary/honeymoon trip with photos of us and the scenery (other than selfies). I contacted several photographers, and finally I connected with another photographer, Amanda, from one of my Facebook groups explaining how I was coming to visit and that I was a photographer too. I sent her our locations/dates, and she immediately recommended doing a session in the Alps while we were staying in Adelboden (near Interlaken). I was thrilled, especially since that’s what I was hoping we could do.
Once we decided the date and general location, I let her decide the rest since she was the local. She wanted to make a day out of it, as did I, since we’d be exploring the area as tourists regardless— even better to have photographic documentation! We met at the Interlaken Ost (east) train station in the morning and rode the trains/cable cars/gondolas to our destinations. The train ride itself climbed through this valley until it opened up into this expansive view of a lush, green valley with huge valley walls with tall waterfalls rushing from the ice melt.
Finding Chalets and Cats in Wengen
Our first stop on the train after Interlaken was Lauterbrunnen since Amanda had been planning on taking us up the gondola to Männlichen, but unfortunately it was not quite open for the season. After a quick change of plans, we decided to continue up to Wengen.Once in Wengen, I was awe-struck with all of the epic views surrounding us. It’s hard to imagine that such a beautiful place exists naturally. We decided to wander through the adorable town and take one of the trails back down to Lauterbrunnen.
At the train station, there are directional signs with possible walking or cycling routes to the various destinations and the amount of time expected to get there. We took the walk through the chalets and neighborhoods to Lauterbrunnen, and it took about an hour. Walking gave us such stunning views that the time passed quickly and we enjoyed as we stopped various spots for photos. It felt like every turn gave us another unexpected view of the valley floor.
An unexpected delight was not bringing my own camera for this day since I left all the photography to Amanda. With not feeling like I should be taking photos, I was able to truly soak up all the natural beauty around us with my favorite person in our favorite landscape.
One of the funniest and best parts of the day was when we were walking down the road between chalets, a gray tabby kitten popped up out of nowhere. The kitty was very friendly and not scared of us at all (like most strays seem to be). S(he) jumped up on the fence and wandered into our photos as we frolicked into fields of wildflowers. We enjoyed the kitty attention as we missed our own fur-babies at home.
After a while, we began to worry because the cat followed us for at least 20 minutes, much past where we found him. Nothing we did seemed to deter him from following us. That was, until we passed an older couple walking their dogs. Then the kitty ran home, but not before watching us continue down the pass, meowing at us.
Along the way, we also came across some shepherds herding sheep up the mountain. It made me think “we’re definitely in Switzerland,” and one of the sheep came up to Amanda, and she was able to get the below shot.
When we arrived back at the train station in Lauterbrunnen, we rushed across the road from the station to the gondola and mountain railroad to Mürren. At this point in the day, we were quite hungry so we stopped at a restaurant that Amanda recommended for lunch.
Lunch at Restaurant StägerStübli
1040 Bir Schiir, 3825 Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
Man, talk about lunch with a view! I enjoyed Rösti, a traditional Swiss meal with potatoes and cheese (this one also had ham and a fried egg) and a local hard cider, while Brighton got a burger and a beer.
We enjoyed chatting with Amanda about her travels and her move from New Zealand (her home country) to the USA to Switzerland. She currently lives in Basel, running her photography business. The weather was a little fickle so we moved under the overhang while still watching the paragliders floating down the canyon.
Wandering in Mürren
At this point, we weren’t sure if the weather would cooperate much longer, but we’re Seattleites now— we can handle the rain— so we pressed on.
We passed some Swiss cows without their bells, and finally stumbled upon the most majestic view of the mountains near the Nidrimatti road at the edge of town. I literally wanted to frolic and sing the Sound of Music.
Brighton and I continued being silly and playful, while Amanda snapped away. It was pure magic.
Mountains + Brighton + Photography + Wildflowers = Happy Hilary 🙂
Returning to Lauterbrunnen
After taking in the view and taking too many photos, we took the train down to the gondola station, and returned to Lauterbrunnen.
This area is most iconic places in the region and Switzerland as a whole. The name “Lauterbrunnen” (many fountains) is very accurate as there are 72 waterfalls in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, the most famous being the Staubbach Falls. It plunges almost 1000 feet from an overhanging rock face, and it is one of the highest free-falling waterfalls in Europe.
Our goal was to get close to the waterfall, but the trail was washed out/closed, so we took photos with the cows and waterfall. At this point, the rain was quickly approaching again, so we hurried back through town to get to the train station down to Interlaken, where we parked.
I would highly recommend a destination photography session for a vacation, honeymoon, anniversary, milestone events, etc. If you’re ever in the Seattle area, I’d love to schedule one for a vacation or for any occasion. Please contact me here if you’d like more information.
Traditional Swiss Dinner in Adelboden
After returning to Martina and Matias’ in Adelboden, they prepared a traditional Swiss dish, Raclette. They had gone to their local cheese shop to purchase various types of regional cheeses. Racelette is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese that is usually fashioned into a wheel of about 13 lb.
The process is melting semi-hard cheese and serving over potatoes, picked items, and meats. The melting part involves an electric table-top grill with small pans, known as coupelles, in which to melt slices of raclette cheese. The cheese is brought to the table sliced, with by platters of boiled or steamed potatoes, other vegetables and preserved meats. These are then mixed with potatoes and topped with cheese in the small square-shaped coupelles that are placed under the grill to melt and brown the cheese. Alternatively, slices of cheese may be melted and simply poured over food on the plate.
Raclette dining is on relaxed and sociable eating and drinking, the meal often running to several hours. Martina found entertainment that I considered fondue in Zermatt a “snack” since snacks are usually light foods eaten quickly and between meals. I did end up considering our fondue experience as a light lunch due to the smaller portion.
Again, we enjoyed the sunset from their chalet in Adelboden and we prepared for our paragliding adventure the next morning.