Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gimmelwald: As Close to Heaven as I'll Ever Get

Directions: From Zurich, take the train to Bern. Transfer and take the train to Interlaken Ost. Transfer again and take the train to Lauterbrunnen. Get on the bus and ride twenty minutes through the valley to Stechelberg. Then it's just a five minute ride up the Schilthornbahn gondola through impenetrable clouds and...

Welcome to Gimmelwald.

Perched precariously upon a mountain, Gimmelwald is insulated (if not isolated) from civilization. It has one main street, one side street, and no stores. The Mountain Hostel, my home for three days, is also home to the town's main restaurant and bar. The nearest grocery store is a 30 min walk, or five minute gondola ride, up the hill in Muren.

I'm finding it hard to articulate what I loved so much about this place. It wasn't the tranquility per se, nor the beauty, although it had both. It was the comfort in knowing that there was nothing else to see or do other than sitting with friends in the Mountain Hostel common room.

The hostel itself was cozy, like a ski lodge without the slopes. There were four dormitories: the Little Boys Room, the Little Girls Room, the Family Room, and the Lovers Room (with bunk beds pushed up next to each other, for lovers and coed groups alike). There was one coed bathroom. In the shower, 1 Swiss franc buys you five one-minute bursts of water. The kitchen was clean but overcrowded. Except for the view, this place is nothing glamorous.

But when you get back from a day of hiking, there's only one place to be. There are no bar crawls, no clubs, no trying to decide between restaurants or shows or tourist traps that want your money. There is just the common room. And I loved that.

On a walk through town, you'd meet Erika Rosen, purveyor of cheeses, eggs, sausage and milk. We visited her cheese hut which had a wonderfully sweet aroma I'll never forget. After sampling, I opted for the 2008 cheese over the 2009.

And what customer service! The first time we visited, Erika didn't have enough eggs. So she ran out to get more!

Needless to say, the next morning we had fresh scrambled eggs topped with fine aged cheese. Yummm.

Past the cheese hut, the town is just perfect.

I'll have to save my post about our epic hike for another time. Suffice it to say that this was my favorite stop so far.

Location:Gimmelwald, Switzerland

No comments:

Post a Comment