Switzerland Day 2: Schynige Platte

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.

Tomorrow we will go over the big trip:  Jungfrau, Top Of Europe trains.IMG_0604


Headed Up to Schynige Platte
Headed Up to Schynige Platte


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Switzerland — Day One in Wonderland

This trip we went to Germany and Switzerland for 2 weeks and essentially 2 additional days, but we really only got one additional day out of it.  I wish we would have spent an additional day exploring the towns around Interlaken, but we will go back at some point to explore the places we didn’t get a chance to.

Trains, Trains, Trains.

Part of the reason I wanted to go to Switzerland were the trains and all the connections we would make in a short period of time.  Elliott has always been so fascinated by trains that I wanted to go on a trip with him while he was still so enamored with trains and I noticed a few years ago that the Alp trains and trams were quite unique.  Our journey from Koln would have us taking the ICE express to Switzerland– the ICE got up to  290km per hour headed back and forth from Frankfurt– pretty impressive.  At the Swiss Border we switched to the Swiss Bahn trains, finally arriving in Interlaken.  Interlaken is a the big train town, since a number of the Alpine trains depart from Interlaken.

I booked us a hotel in nearby Winderswil, which turned out to be a perfect choice.  Winderswil is the next train stop from Interlaken West, which is where they Jungfrau Railway, or Top Of Europe train departs from.  We took the intercity bus from Interlaken to Winderswil and it took about 10 minutes to get from the train station to our hotel.  We stayed at the Hotel Baren.  Winderswil is a small town outside of Interlaken, with a few hotels and some restaurants– we found it to the perfect town to stay in while we explored the region.

Hotel Baren

The weather was perfect on our first day of touring.  There were some clouds in the high alpine area, but it was set to clear up for the remainder of our trip.


As you can see, the views from town are impressive.  The north face of the Eiger peeking out over the valley.

We arrived late in the day and you could quickly tell that Winderswil doesnt have a lot of restaurants, so we decided to go back into town and get a bite to eat.

Side note:  I also wanted to get back into Interlaken because I had lost my pair of Chaco sandals at the Koln train station.  They were in the stroller we brought in the bottom webbing and they slipped out while boarding the train, falling onto the train tracks– never to be seen again.  RIP Chaco.  So, I was anxious to get to town and buy a pair of sandals since the only shoes I brought with me were the hiking boots on my feet– although it was better to have Hiking boots than the other way around.

Once we arrived back in Interlaken, we were just blown away at how beautiful the city is.  It is SUPER touristy, don’t get me wrong, but the city is designed around a massive park in the city center, the city folds like a horseshoe around the park, with the East train station on one side of the town and the West one on the other side of the park– pretty cool.  The park is used by the multiple groups that have para sailing from various points in the Alps as a landing spot, so at any moment there are multiple people landing in the park– we had a great time just hanging out and relaxing at this point during several points on our trip.

Here are some of the best pictures of Interlaken:

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Paragliders landing in Interlaken Park

Paragliders landing in Interlaken Park

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Liam Interlaken Park
Liam Interlaken Park

After walking around Interlaken looking for something to eat, we finally gave up trying to find the perfect place for dinner and settled on an street corner with an Italian pizza joint that had outside seating and cold beer.  It gave us enough time to catch our breath and plan the next days that we would be in this wonderful country.  Pizza is pizza, so nothing special to note– and the beer in Switzerland is always the same brand on tap– and its a decent one.

Our biggest reason for deciding to come to Switzerland was to take the train to the Top Of Europe–  The Jungfrau tour takes you on a train to the “Top of Europe”, 12,000 feet onto the Glacier that ties the Jungfrau range together.  To give it a little perspective, Wilderswil is at 2200 feet and this train goes to nearly 12k in elevation in just under 2 hours!  Lili’s parents were travelling with us and they decided that they didn’t have any interest in going to the top, so we decided to have the next day to hang out as a group and Saturday we would split up, Lili and I taking Elliott on the train while Liam stayed below with Oma and Opa.


Next:  Day 2 Schynige Platte


This blog was started in 2006 as a way to keep everything categorized while I was travelling through China.  Over the last 10 years, it has gone through its cycles of travel blog, political blog and commentary on parenthood– and I mostly keep doing it so that my children will have a way to hopefully connect with me long after I have gone.  It’s hard to keep track of all the entries about all of the different things, but its all here for you to read and enjoy.