Note: There are going to be some pretty epic pictures in this post. Click on the link to see them in full detail.
Our second day to our Switzerland journey involved a trip up to a place called Schynige Platte. which is a beautiful spot in the Bernese Oberland, It offers spectacular views of the surrounding ranges, including the three that are the most famous, The Eiger, The Jungfrau and the Monch– the story goes that the 2 Male peaks are Eiger and Monch and they are always fighting over The Jungfrau (young woman). The views from the top were spectacular, but the train to get us up to the top of the Platte is equally remarkable. The rail line opened as a steam line in 1893 and was electrified in 1914. The train leaves from Winderswil (where we were staying), Elevation 1916 feet and ends up at about 6,500 feet. There is a full service hotel and restaurant at the top, which couldn’t have been any easy feat to conquer. What really stands out for me on this trip is how the Swiss look at these areas, these vast Alpine areas and they think, lets build a railway up there so people can visit it easily. That is quite a concept– I look back at where we live, Seattle, Washington, and I think about Mount Rainier and how you could potentially take a train up to Camp Muir! How cool would that be? As cool as it is to take this train… Maybe not quite as this one is from 1893.
The trip was about 40 swiss francs per person, children free. Because we had the kiddos, we actually got our own box, which was really nice. The view is best described through the following photos:
The train station at the top of the “Platte” offers breathtaking views with a an Alpine Gartern (Garden) off to the side. This is trail that leads you through the many varieties of Alpine wildflowers, including the much revered Ed
elweiss flower. From there, it’s just a short hike up the hill to the hotel. A hotel. That you can only get to by taking a railcar. Crazy to think of such a thing, but there it is. It’s not an uncommon thing here in the Alps– there are lots of accomodation and all of them are only really accessible by rail car or cable car– which means your audience is going to be much smaller depending.
The link to the hotel website is http://hotelschynigeplatte.ch/en/ — its a little expensive, but when will you have a chance to stay in another hotel which is only accessible by railcar?
We didn’t make it up until one of the late afternoon cars, so our time was slightly limited since the last train left the mountain promptly at 6:45, so we had just under 2 hours to really get a good look around. As I mentioned before, there was an Alpengarden near the train station, which led to several trails, some of which climbed into the even higher alpine meadows, but the trails were STEEP so we didn’t venture up on them with the kids and the limited time. We sauntered over to the trail with the hotel and noticed a bunch of cows up on the high alpine area, making the famous Cowbell sound as they made their way through the fields. Farmers use these cowbells because the clouds are usually so thick that you can’t see in front of you. Their symphony of bells is quite something– and these aren’t your normal dairy cows, just hanging out in
a small farm space– these cows were pretty massive in size, but they were also very muscular– hard to imagine a cow making its way up as high as 9-10,0000 feet during the summer months, but they do as they graze all of the hay/grass in the lower land. We actually saw a huge group of them. (Last Picture)
We got to the hotel just as they were closing up, but we were able to get a quick coffee and a bismark donut (ICH BIN EINE BERLINER!!) That is where we found the dog and the boots filled with the old wildflowers– which is a really cool concept to use for your old hiking boots..
All in all, very nice afternoon up in the Alps with the family.