September 8, 2014 – Our last day in Murren started with our usual breakfast. Louisa will miss the pretzel rolls and cheese, and we will both miss the dark-but-not-acidic coffee. Fortunately the weather cooperated, as it did all trip, and we had a lovely mostly sunny final day in the mountains.
We headed back up the Allmendhubelbahn and then towards the Mountain View Trail. One of the neat things about the Allmendhubelbahn is it’s over 100 years old. And while the hill it climbs doesn’t seem that steep from the bottom, when the funicular is going up you begin to realize that it’s a bit of a climb. After about a minute or so you reach the top, where there are restrooms, a little restaurant, and a playground with cool climbing objects and a mini zipline. There’s also a flower trail with labelled wildflowers.
The trail in this direction is quite a pleasant walk, with a few steep downhills at the end but relatively easy (at least in the direction we walked, which was mostly downhill). Along the way we found a flock of swallows flying overhead, a bench with a perfect view of the opposite mountains, a little lake, and watched cows try to figure out how to get into their pen while a truck was blocking the entrance. We also found a herd of cows; Louisa is a little nervous of cows, mostly large ones with horns that stare you down. Tony doesn’t mind them. Both of us like the cowbells that they all seem to have in this part of the world.
We were glad to make it to the Grütschalp train station, since they had restrooms and a drinking fountain. There’s also a little shop with candy and similar snacks, as well as a restaurant. We had brought (now-melted) chocolate with us, so we decided to keep walking back towards Murren. This part of the walk is mostly paved and pretty level, as it follows the train tracks. It also leads through an active cow pasture, so we recommend you watch where you step. There are also a few benches along this section of the path, perfect for a quick break. This was an absolutely wonderful hike (at least in the direction we took; it would be much more strenuous going the other way) and one of our favorite parts of the trip.
We had almost reached town when the rain caught up with us. We initially took refuge under a pine tree (our umbrellas were helpfully hanging out in our room, rather than being packed in our day bag). The rain was too heavy, so we hustled to a nearby house with an overhang over the porch to wait until the rain lessened. After about ten minutes the precipitation had slowed to a drizzle, and we were able to quickly walk a few doors down to our hotel.
We dropped off our wet gear and headed down for a late lunch of pizza and beer – if you think it’s strange that we ate pizza three times in Switzerland, let’s just say that this is very good pizza, with a thin but still chewy crust, good spicy sauce, great toppings, and hot pepper infused olive oil. And the beer reminded us of the beer we got in Germany (which makes sense, since it was German beer).
By now it was mid afternoon, but the weather was too nice to not head towards the other side of town and up a small hill to a shaded bench with a view of the mountains. We spent some time bird watching, since we had a pair of birds on a power line and another in the pine tree near us, then walked back to our hotel to get ready for dinner.
One note on the dining room at the hotel – there are actually two dining rooms. One is very pretty, bright, with old photos, warm wood paneling, candles, table clothes, and a European feel (read: tables are quite spread apart, with about a foot between every other table, and 4″ between the rest of the tables). The other side is the “bar” section, with a tv, no table clothes, wooden chairs, not much light, and tons of space. The inn keeper figured out our preference after the second night, but it still seemed to amuse her.
Anyway, we got our “usual” table in the corner in the bar section. We like that it has a nice view of the Eiger, and that one side has a comfortable, cushioned bench as the chair. We settled in, ordered some nice white wine, and debated what to get for dinner. Louisa finally warmed back up to the idea of fondue, so we went with that. And apparently you’re supposed to start the meal with a light green salad (to make the fondue easier to digest), so we started with a large bowl of mixed greens and a very good balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing. The fondue itself was also fantastic – very well melted cheese that seamlessly blended with the wine, and which was very easy to dip the bread slices into. None of the flavors were pronounced, instead everything worked together to create a delicious, easy to eat dish. We ended the night with some kirsch, as well as one final Schneider-Weisse beer.