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New York, New York
July 6, 2006
From journal Wonders of the Bernese Oberland
La Grange, Illinois
May 17, 2004
Your jumping off point is Interlaken, at the base of the mountains and accessible from most major cities. Then it's about an hour to the mountains. In the train station you can obtain schedules for the entire region. At first, schedules seem a bit intimidating, with train changes and short connection times. Trust me -- Swiss trains run like clockwork and you really can change trains in 2-3 minutes. Trains are perfectly timed so you'll get off one and get on the next. Top mountain excursions (such as the Schilthorn or Jungfrau excursion) cost more, although there are discounts for Swiss Pass holders. Specialty cable cars cost additional, too. However, the cable car from Stechelberg in the valley to Murren is included with your Swiss Pass. A Bernese Oberland pass, covering most modes of transportation in the region is another good option. Purchase it at the Interlaken rail station. Evaluate your plans and decide which pass works best for you. Be sure to have a Swiss Rail Pass. With a Eurail, you'll spend $12 plus to get from Lauterbrunnen up to Murren.
There are many hiking trails for hikers of all abilities. So pack a lunch in your backpack and head out exploring. Swiss hiking trails are called "wanderwegs' and are well marked with yellow signs posted high on posts at trail junctions. You'll also find that they conveniently list the time the path takes in hours and minutes. Keep in mind times are calibrated by the Swiss who walk and hike regularly and amble down paths like mountain goats with their hiking sticks. Easy paths can be paved, gravel, or packed dirt and can be traversed with every day gym shoes. For expert wanderwegs, I suggest Swiss walking sticks and hiking boots. Sometimes the pitch is steep and the paths narrow.
Whether you're doing an all day hike, or a short walk, be prepared for anything. Weather is unpredictable in the mountains. Always carry at least a poncho. I have a couple bottles of water, cheese, granola bars and chocolate for snacks, a small easily packed rain jacket, and at least a fleece vest or windbreaker, depending on the altitude where I'm heading. Remember, you may find snow at high altitudes even in the summer. Sunglasses are a must, too.
Whether you hike for a day or walk for an hour, you'll be amazed at the beauty around you.
From journal Simply Amazing Murren