The Jungfrau Region and Hotel Edelweiss, a Swiss Adventure
By Ron Ellege
Arresting mountains, an abundance of activities, and a wide range of hotel offerings make the Jungfrau Region of the Swiss Alps a must-do for the world traveler. Here one can capture the vision of the soaring Swiss Alps, the smell of fresh air, and the enchanting sounds of cowbells and alphorns.
Hotel Edelweiss is located in the quaint alpine town of Wengen, Switzerland. The hotel environment is so unusual that it blends the culture of hotel, B&B, and vacation rental. We drove there through the Alps after picking up a rental car in Geneva.
Upon our arrival, we met the gardener headed to his chores in the lush plot located in the hotel’s front yard. He greeted us warmly, reached for my wife’s bag, and led us to the front desk of the establishment with friendliness and gusto.
When we approached the desk he opened the half-door and slipped behind the desk to process This was our first encounter with the proprietor of Hotel Edelweiss, Daniel Eisenegger.
I guess the garden could wait because after check-in Daniel proceeded to give us a brief tour of the facilities. Carefully pointing out where we could relax and unwind consisting of several lounges, a music room, and a beautiful sauna.
He introduced the various staff we met along the way thus setting the tone for the next five days of pampering, friendship, and inspiration in the breathtaking Swiss Alps.
Then it was up to our rooms. Traveling with my wife, Shelli, our son, his wife, and her father dictated the need for three rooms. All rooms were clean and comfortable, and private bathrooms with showers and balconies with remarkable panoramic views.
Daniel and Susanne evolved to the attitude of “everything for the guest” through a storied past. These Swiss natives and corporate achievers came to the idea that owning stuff is not the answer to a satisfying life. After leaving their lucrative positions and job security they spent years working for non-profit groups in several countries, frequently spending holidays in Wengen.
Finally, the decision was made and through the providence of God, they were able to acquire Hotel Edelweiss. The rest of the story is still being written and anyone who stays with them will be blessed by the Eiseneggers’ love of life and people.
Things to Do:
For the array of destinations, activities, and experiences available in this breathtaking region of Switzerland, browse MySwitzerland.com. All will include some of the following: mountains, rivers, streams and waterfalls, flowers, glaciers, critters, friendly people, skiing, hiking, biking, cog trains, cable cars, gondolas, trams, paragliders, delicious foods, libations, sunsets, sunrises, breath-taking views, and lest I forget location, location, location.
Our Day Trip:
While our son Paul and wife Sara were off for a day of hiking, Darrell, Shelli, and I headed out on our own journey. Our odyssey began in the heart of Wengen as we boarded the Wengen–Männlichen Aerial Cableway.
This dreamlike ride to the Männlichen summit station rises 3,100 feet in 5 minutes. Departing the tram we walked to a couple of the observation areas for far-reaching views of mountains beyond and towns below. We then rested a bit in the superb café located between the tram station and the loading dock for the next leg of our escapade.
Our next stop would be Grindelwald via the Grindelwald–Männlichen Gondola Cableway. This 4 person gondola takes you on a leisurely 15-minute ride over ski slopes in the winter transformed into lush green meadows strewn with small groups of Swiss cows in the summer.
The hills are actually alive with the sound of music as the various-sized cowbells ring out in chorus with each bite of grass taken by the grazing bovine below. This cable excursion offers enchanting scenery that could have been torn from the pages of The Sound of Music.
Once bottomed out in Grindelwald step out of the gondola in this charming Swiss town, walk two blocks, and duck into the Restaurant Kreuz & Post located in the Kreuz Hotel. This friendly, historic eatery treats locals and travelers alike to authentic Swiss cuisine. It’s a twenty-minute, picturesque, downhill walk, from the Kreuz Hotel to Grindelwald Train Station. Don’t like walking? Public transportation is available.
At Grindelwald Station board a historic cog train operated by the Wengernalp Railway which cogs its way up the vertical tracks on an expedition to the Jungfrau Pass Summit and majestic Kleine Scheidegg.
The journey to Kleine Scheidegg is a 32-minute, four-stop wonderland filled with cows, goats, and horses, mountain and valley views, flowers, and lovely Swiss chalets.
In winter, Kleine Scheidegg is the center of the ski area around Grindelwald and Wengen. In summer, it is a popular hiking destination and the all-aboard station for the Jungfrau Railway. This train ascends steeply through tunnels inside the Eiger and Mönch mountains until it reaches the highest rail point in Europe, Terminal Jungfraujoch.
Once we re-board the Wengernalp railway, it is a relaxing 30-minute ride to Wengen station located three blocks from the Wengen–Männlichen Aerial Cableway. A day we will never forget.
Where to Eat:
It is important that the Western traveler is prepared for the food prices in Switzerland. We paid as much as 7 euros for a cup of coffee. A nice-sized pizza can easily set you back $25. However, the food will be one of the highlights of your stay.
There are many choices for types of food and ambiance to appreciate when staying in the Wengen area. Many of the local hotels host their own restaurants and many serve their guests only. Whether you are looking for casual dining or a memorable romantic dinner, Wengen has the answer.
Hotel Silberhorn: Evening dining
I have spent a few loud meals on a well-publicized restaurant balcony overlooking a busy street and wondered if it was the food or the exhaust that left the lingering taste in my mouth. However, Hotel Silberhorn overlooks a busy street of a different kind. There is no traffic, just pedestrians.
The restaurant offers excellent food with a variety of choices. The views of the Lauterbrunnen Valley below add to the experience, and an evening sunset is worth waiting for.
Suggestion: While in Switzerland, do as the Swiss and try the fondues, very tasty.
Pizza: Da Sina: Good pizza and pasta
This is a great little restaurant for dine-in and take-out orders. While their namesake is built on their brilliant pizza, once you get your fork into their pasta dishes you will be glad you did.
Suggestion: Chew a bit outside the box and order their tasty spaghetti with chili.
Grindelwaldblick is located at Kleine Scheidegg: AMAZING VIEWS of mountains and valleys
This restaurant is actually located a short hike along a well-maintained path above Kleine Scheidegg. This short walk turned out to be our friend, as it is just enough to discourage many of the tourists, thus leaving us a place to sit.
Kleine Scheidegg is about a 20-minute cog train ride from Wengen station. This is where trains from Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald release their hordes for the final train journey to Jungfraujoch -The Top of Europe.
Although we arrived in early summer, the area is a hub of winter activity and the hotel is a favorite for the ski vacationer.
This is one of the few Swiss restaurants with bragging rights to a view of the Jungfrau trio of mountains. On a clear day, the Eiger (Ogre), The Mönch (Monk), and the Jungfrau (Maiden) peaks are all visible from the viewing deck.
Although we didn’t take the time to eat a meal, we enjoyed a glass of iced tea and a couple of Swiss cocoas on the deck while absorbing the amazing views.
Reviews reveal: The food is served piping hot, of good quality, and portioned with pricing about the same as other Swiss mountain restaurants.
Hotel Edelweiss Dining: Gourmet on a budget
The find of our dining experience in Switzerland was under our very noses. After returning to the Edelweiss, tired and pondering our evening dining destination, we found our blessing in the form of a four-course gourmet meal right in our hotel.
Each evening the in-house chef prepares a sumptuous meal based on Swiss tradition and cuisine. One of the highlights of every night is the bread table. Set with three to five delicious daily baked bread, this table keeps you coming back for more. From the appetizer plate to the dessert, each course seems to build a delightful chorus of flavor.
Grindelwald Valey From Mannlichen Favorite: Bread, Salad: Salat Mexicaine, Bread, Soup: Gansesuppe (Goose Soup), Bread, Main Course: Buntbarschfilet – Kapernsauce – Krauterpruee (Tilapia filet prepared in a caper herb puree sauce), Dessert: Pana Cotta.
This meal was a gourmands’ delight, it was the best fish I have ever tasted and the Pana Cotta was over the top. I bow to the chef.
Here is the kicker: each night the price tag for the entire meal including non-alcoholic drinks is 25 euros for guests of the hotel.
When You Go:
An important word of caution: when traveling the mountains of Switzerland always be equipped with sturdy shoes, layers of clothing and sun protection in the form of glasses and sunscreen.
Take as many types of transportation as you can, all are interesting and very efficient. You can get different types of passes when you arrive. The Swiss trains are not overly busy and if you like to prepare in advance check out Swiss Travel System. However, you may find it difficult to determine in advance what pass you need for your adventure. The agents at the local stations are very courteous, patient, and helpful in this regard. Take a good camera and plenty of expectations for a trip of a lifetime.
Ron Elledge is a professional travel writer and photographer based in Phoenix, Arizona. His work has appeared in Travel Post Monthly, Explore River Cruises, the Examiner, and 2 Wheeled WanderLust. Read his travel blog Ron Ellege Exposed.
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