Sometimes the crowds get us down. Sometimes the manmade attractions get old and feel like empty boxes to be checked off a list. But Murren does not disappoint for stunning views, crisp weather and peaceful meadows.
It took us seven connections to get from Alba, Italy up to Murren, Switzerland. We walked from the final train station down the car-free road of Murren, tired from sitting all day and hustling to make connections. The peaks of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau were hidden in the clouds but the sheer cliff walls of the Alps still tell you instantly that you are someplace special. We found Chalet Fontana, where Judi and I had stayed 15 years ago, and could finally relax and take a deep breath of the fresh Alpine air.
We debated the cost of taking the gondola up to the Shiltzhorn peak, where parts of the famous James Bond movie, In Her Majesty’s Secret Service, was filmed. It was completely worth the 173Euros for our family of four to go to the top. They have done an amazing job with making the viewing areas fantastic and they have a whole floor dedicated to the James Bond movie with interviews, stories of filming in Murren in the 1960s and even interactive rides that put you into the scenes of the movie. Make sure you go to the bathrooms and wash your hands for a surprise experience.
Mid-way up the Schiltzhorn is Brig which offers great views and a new Thrill Walk. This is an opportunity (already included in your ticket up the mountain by cable car) to walk out over the clouds on ropes, see-through planks and paths which extend straight out from the mountain. The kids loved it. Anne was brave enough to go. The rest of us cheered from the observation deck. But totally worth the stop after enjoying the view from the top and it is a fun to do once the clouds start to roll up the mountain sides.
In the afternoon we hiked to near by Gimmelwald, which is even smaller than Murren and there is nothing really to do or see but serves as a wonderful goal for a hike. Murren is a great base for a series of wonderful hikes.
Mureen has also added mountain biking and paragliding stores since our last visit. We thought about paragliding but we were too late and everything was booked (much to Judi’s relief I think). Also, it has an amazingly world class sports facility for such a tiny Swiss village. Denise, our host, gave us an entry card for the facility and it allowed the kids to swim and play in a huge pool. There was also a big outdoor artificial turf soccer field and a basketball court. Kate and John spent hours playing basketball against the back drop of stunning mountains.
The day our friends the Jenkins left for the States, we had time to make the trek to Tremmelbach Falls. Fifteen years ago Judi and I had been befriended by a wonderful man who had taken his time to show us the Falls or we probably would not have known to go. It is an amazing show of Alpine glacier run off pounding through the mountains, churning and frothing its way down to the valley floor. We took the bus from Lauterbrunnen so we would have enough time for the adventure and still allow them to make their train to Interlaken Ost. It can be chilly and misty in the caves so bring a sweatshirt and / or rain jacket.
The walk back was the perfect way to wrap up a Switzerland visit – we saw rivers, chalets with beautiful flower boxes, cows grazing gently ringing their cow bells (and we all need more cow bell) and from above us, a half dozen of base jumpers hurdling down off the huge sheer cliff walls before deploying their chutes, which we could hear as the popping sound of the chute echoed off the valley walls.
As we enjoyed classic Swiss cheese fondue on our last night we wished we had more time here. We came to Murren to hike and enjoy outdoor adventures, which we did. Even just staring off at the Alps sketching are great days here. During the day the streets are a steady stream of people from all over the world but at night Murren empties out and it feels like you have it all to yourself (but t’s good to remember the restaurants close up about 8pm). As a way to escape the summer heat and crowds of the rest of Europe you can’t beat Murren. Oh, and it comes with the most awe-inspiring views – the sort of views from every inch of the town that can surprise you; when you forget about the view for a minute and then you suddenly notice those giant snow capped peaks are still right there, it will take your breath away over and over again.