Switzerland Part I: Goldenpass to Wengen

Switzerland is the last country we visit during our three-week whirlwind tour of Europe. We spent three days total in the Alps region.

After getting our 3-Day Swiss Pass in Geneva Airport, we began our very long journey to Wengen, where we booked our stay for the night. Earlier I had debated the Geneva-Bern-Interlaken route vs. Goldenpass. In the end, we went with Goldenpass route since there was thunderstorm in Bern the day we traveled. However, if the weather is pleasant, I would recommend stopping by Bern for a couple hours to get a different taste of Switzerland. Having visited all the major cities in Switzerland including Zurich and Geneva, Bern is by far my favorite, with clock towers dotted all over the medieval city. The Goldenpass train passed through mountains and creeks and the scenery was beautiful. However, you can get similar (if not better) scenery if you are staying in the Alps region.

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View of a lake from Golden Pass train

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View of Small Village from Golden Pass

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Big windows on Golden Pass

The view from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen was spectacular with waterfall.

 

Our Guesthouse Wengen’s B & B is part of a family house. For 90CHF per night, it was a steal. It was very comfortable with great view of the Alps. However, I do not recommend this for family with young kids or elderly, as there is a 10 minute hike up a steep road to the train station and town center.

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Our room at Wengen B n B

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View of Wengen from our room

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Exterior of Wengen B n B

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The road that leads down to Wengen B n B

After checking into our guesthouse, we ventured back to town for dinner. We had opted to stay in the a Alpine village, as opposed to Interlaken because I wanted to experience the serenity of the region. Wengen did not disappoint and we truly felt that we were worlds away from the hectic streets in Athens. As Wengen is a car-free village, we had traded in the roaring of car engines for the sound of cow bells. It had stopped raining by then, and the emerald trees were well-moisturized with the Alps in the backdrop. We also saw snails coming out of hiding for some crisp, fresh Alps air.

The only downside is that, at 8:00pm the town is dead quiet with only few restaurants open.  As we didn’t plan ahead for our first meal in this secluded village, we were stuck to pay for expensive meals. We saw a pub selling sausages for 8CHF apiece.  In the end, we settled for a cute looking restaurant with 48CHF cheese fondue for two. Having starved for the last seven hours in Goldenpass, we were picturing a feast like this:

Cheese Fondue Feast? Yes!

Cheese Fondue Feast? Yes!

To our disappointment, we ended up with merely a pot of cheese and pieces of bread. I didn’t even have the mood to take pictures. My boyfriend overheard that the restaurant was running out of cheese, so they made up by adding more alcohol. As a result, the hotpot reeked of strong alcohol. Even though I was hungry, I couldn’t finish the cheese because it hurt my stomach. It was hands-down the worst meal of our entire trip.

Word of warning: If you do end up in Wengen or other Alps village after 6:00pm, I highly recommend either grabbing dinner in Interlaken first, or get supermarket food beforehand. Otherwise, you may end up overpaying for measly and mediocre food.

It was not a perfect start of our stay in Switzerland, but we were still happy to be spending the night in a mountain village in the Alps!

Tomorrow, we will try to make full use of our Swiss pass by hopping on the train to the various towns in Berner Oberland Region.

This is one of my posts for our three-day stay in Switzerland. For other posts, please see:

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One thought on “Switzerland Part I: Goldenpass to Wengen

  1. Dear packernewbie,

    I always like to read reports about my own country by foreign views. It is not only exciting to see things differently, from a different point of view, but it also helps to re-adjust our own blindness regarding our own lifestyle. I especially like them, when they are not superficial, but carefully observed and full of personal, but considered thoughts. Quite contrary to the many though highly professionally edited magazine „travel reports“ by professionals, but at the same time always try to sell their own products (travel consulting?) with it–in other words: full of (hidden) advertisements.

    Nevertheless, may I add some thoughts to your own report.

    – Fondue:

    It may has been indeed a bad quality you got in Wengen. But let me say, the picture you show (overloaded with ingredients) has nothing to do with the traditional way we eat it here in Switzerland–not the slightest (no vegetables, no meat (eek!), no sauces (eek!), just bread, some Champignons perhaps, nothing else, perhaps some salad as a side dish at most, and an apple afterwords).

    It has a rural, very modest origin, usually eaten by alpine farmers on their high altitude meadows on isolated alps, often solely by their own or just a few people. Their life used to be very rudimentary, they were only able to eat what was produced by their own in their very sparse environment: a lot of cows, sheep and goats though, who spent the milk, from which they made their own butter and cheese. They also bake their own bred. Not much more. And exactly that way we Swiss love to celebrate it. It does not need more … if you really like cheese. And of course some fine „Schnapps“ added, an indispensable ingredient, perhaps even some (those days expensive) white wine. But not much, since it would anyhow not work out. If you add too much of spirits or wine to it, it will immediately fail. Then you cannot eat it anymore and you would recognise it inescapably.

    That’s the way I like it, that’s the way I eat it with my family and friends, anything else we would declare it degenerated and nobody would agree that this is still Swiss Fondue–at least the way we Swiss eat it. And nothing else than hot, black tea to drink (since hot black tea thoroughly helps your stomach to digest it, even for us Europeans; wine does not help at all, though many drink (a lot) white wine with it; to drink red wine with it is even not advisable).

    Further, there is literally no alcohol in the fondue, because the cheese is too hot, the alcohol has been evaporated long ago before you you even think to start to eat it. What remains is the taste of the Schnapps; I prefer Kirsch, aka Cherry Schnapps. Of course, there are some other important ingredients, such as (a lot of, as I like it) garlic and some muscat.

    There are two possibilities: Either you just do not like fondue, consider it (!), or the cheese they used, was not especially good. I tend to support the first idea.

    And finally: CHF 24 for a fondue p.p. is rather cheap (of course it depends on the amount of cheese added, and the Swiss like to eat a lot of it, usually 250-400gr p.p.). Do not forget, cheese, even though we eat a lot of it, is really expensive, even for us Swiss, let’s say in average CHF 30 per kg.

    – It is clearly indicated on the validity map that a Swiss pass does not fully cover the ride up to Jungfraujoch above Wengen/Grindelwald. I am sorry you did not recognise it. And this issue has been indeed repeatedly discussed probably for many more times than 10,000 times on this forum.

    – It is standard in Switzerland that stores close in the „early“ evening, not only in Wengen! Isn’t it part of the travel pleasure to learn new ways of life?! 😉

    – There is no place such as Lucern ???

    – Titus used to be a Roman emperor. I am not sure, whether there is also a mountain called after him.

    – Above Vitznau, there is definitely no mountain called Titus, or remotely comparable.

    – Also you cannot take the train from Vitznau in order to return to Luzern, there is just no train leaving from Vitznau.

    – And finally a personal advice: if you follow the heavily beaten paths, especially with a modest budget, do not necessarily expect to meet high quality and exceptional service!

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