Switzerland: Hotel and Exploration in Wengen

Travel Period : 16 – 20 July 2013

Location: Wengen, Switzerland

Day 1

{ Previous Post: To the Alps in Wengen }

We were unprepared for what was before us.

After walking past a supermarket named as the ‘CO-OP’, I stood there wondering how to push our luggage down a long winding steep slope.

When we booked the hotel, the location was our consideration and we chose it due to its proximity to the Wengen train station. What we did not know was that it would require going up and down a sloping road!

With my hands full of two luggage, I struggled to walk and pull slowly, the downward force threatening to grab them rolling down the slope every minute!

There were a few buggy vehicle going up and down so we had to shout to Dar to keep to the side because we had no hands to hold him.

Finally, we reached the Hotel Edelweiss, a cosy looking hotel with a playground nearby. Checking the time, we took around 13 minutes just to walk down even though it looks near to the station!

Exploring The Hotel

 

Day1_HotelWengenFeatured

While doing the checking in, we were led to a room but it appeared they had made a mistake and gave our reservation to someone else. Soon, we were given a replacement at level two and had to wait for a third bed to be placed in the room. The room was small and good enough for two people but with an extra bed at the foot of the bed beside the window, it became quite squeezy. There was barely room to walk and we couldn’t use the table.

We did voice out whether this room is the same as the one they were supposed to have given us. They said it was so we just had to believe it. The bathroom door  opens out to one of the bed and was very small, barely enough space for the toilet seat. The plus point was the balcony though as we could step out and sit outside. Gorgeous alpine scenery could be viewed straight from our windows.

Overall though, the service was excellent and the room and surroundings were clean. The manager was efficient and sorted out the problem quickly and a friendly staff helped us carried our luggage up the ‘ancient’ lift. He wondered where we had been since it was astonishing to see so many luggage for just three people. We told him we had been in Europe for six weeks and visited several countries! He told us he was the in-house chef and recommended us to take the hotel dinner to taste the Swiss Cuisine.

It was fun to operate the lift which we had to open the door ourselves once we reached the floor. A few times, I forgot and stood there silly and waiting for the lift door to open. The manager also provided us with information about the hiking so we got to know which hike route is more child-friendly. These information was not available online so we could only plan once we reached here.

For the meals, the breakfast was with the room charge and was the usual European spread of bread, cheese, hams, egg and jam. For dinner, we had to book with the manager and pay separately. They go by per pax per meal of CHF25 and it’s up to the in-house chef what he wants to cook for the night. Everybody in the dining room eats the same meal. We tried their speciality Swiss cuisine for two nights.

Day1_HotelWengen

There was a nice playground nearby too which Dar enjoyed. He loved the slide and the swing and in the evenings after we get back from our exploration, that is where he would head to.

After settling down, we quickly went out with just a backpack and walked further down the slope from our hotel. Soon, we reached a point where there was a railing and stopped to admire the mountain scenery in front of us. The weather was still hot and sunny so we were quite disappointed not to experience the cold air we were looking for.

Day1_HotelWengenSurroundings

Explore Wengen Town

We had reached Wengen at 4.25pm and by the time we settled, it was about 5.15pm. Since our dinner would only start at 6.50pm, we decided to walk around the surroundings and explore Wengen Town.

I groaned inwardly as I looked at the slope to go back up to the train station. This time, we had no luggage with us but walking down is easy, walking up a steep curvy slope is not! At such high altitude, I kept feeling as if I’m running out of oxygen even though I’m quite used to walking and was wearing a good track shoe.

The whole day of pushing luggage and doing frantic train transfers was weighing down on me. The only thing moving my leg was my mental energy telling me, just one more step…just one more step… Finally, I reached the top panting hard. Surprisingly, Dar had no problem at all and was always jumpy and walking fast in front of us.

Day1_WengenWalkUp

From Wengen train station, turning left leads to Wengen Town, turning right leads to our hotel. The Coop supermarket is right in the middle between this two paths. We headed into the COOP supermarket first to get our sandwich ingredients for tomorrow’s hike.

We had earlier asked whether the hotel has water for us to drink or boil but were told to get water straight from the tap in our bathroom. Vin was alright but I felt uneasy because I’m used to drinking boiled and bottled water. I don’t care how ‘alpine’ the water is, I just couldn’t imagine getting water from the germs-filled bathroom where the sink was just inches from the toilet bowl. We had no choice but to buy bottles of drinking water from the supermarket or we would need to buy expensive boiled drinking water from the hotel. (CHf 3 I think)

Fortunately, the large bottles of water in the supermarket was reasonably priced (CHF0.95 for 1.5litres!). In fact, the pricing of food in COOP was quite reasonable and many people got their sandwich meals, bread and many foodstuff from there. We also got plenty of tidbits to snack on if we get hungry between meals.

Turning into the left path, we discovered a fairly flat area with hotels, shops and restaurant lining the streets. After that, we walked to the middle of the town where there was a large field. There were more shops beyond but I was too tired to walk further and headed back.

Day1_WengenTownWalk

Dinner 

The meal of the day was a famous Swiss cuisine, Fondue. We had passed by a restaurant earlier which priced it at CHF33. Therefore, our restaurant charging us at CHF25 with dessert (ice-cream/fruits) was considered cheaper. As I could not eat bread, the Swiss chef kindly prepared a separate beef stew meal for me which has soup and dessert too.

The chef came over to demonstrate to us how to eat this cuisine. He poked the pieces of bread with a metal stick and twirled it around in the hot melting cheese, coating it like how we usually coat marshmallow with hot chocolate. The pot was kept cooking over a small stove. I tried the cheese. It was strong-smelling and there was an interesting wine taste.

We had wanted to share our meals with Dar since each meal was quite costly and he only needed a small portion so we asked whether it was safe for the child. He reassured us it was safe, that the wine was just ‘taste’. However, we didn’t feel it was suitable for Dar and he also did not enjoy the wine smell so he ate more of my beef stew instead. (Much later, we found out children are charged at CHF10 per meal)

Day1_SwissMeal02

It was boring to just eat bread with cheese when we are really meat-lovers so Vin didn’t have a satisfying meal. Me neither as I had to share my few pieces of meat with both of them. With a small portion, we considered the meal to be overly expensive and barely enough to fill our stomach after a whole day of walking.

I was surprised about this because we had travelled several countries in Europe and I usually end up not able to finish the large portions catered to Westerners. It was frequent for me to share my meal with Dar. Here in Switzerland, I couldn’t even fill myself. From this, we now know why Switzerland is considered one of the most expensive country to travel in.

Evening Walk 

After dinner, we walked to other parts of the small hotel and discovered a cosy children’s playroom. Dar was so excited as he could play with some vehicles on a nice town mat on the floor. It was part of their study where guests could lounge and read.

We had to force him to leave to take an evening walk down further. Though we were tired, it would be a waste of time not to explore the surrounding area. The air finally turned cooler at eight plus pm and we placed a jacket on Dar before heading out. Passing by the ‘platform with railings’, we headed down.

It was downward slope all the way with large green fields and some low apartments.

Day1_WengenSurroundings

Soon, we were excited as we saw some adorable sheep munching on the grass! This was the second time we saw sheep up-close after our encounters with them in Cingjing, Taiwan. (By the way, Cingjing was created like Switzerland Highlands and we were so awed by the surroundings that time. We never thought we would be able to set foot in real Switzerland one year later.)

“Ding, ding, ding!” The bells around their neck kept clanging as they moved. We stayed for a while outside the fence to look at them eating happily.

Day1_WengenSheep

Along the way, we passed by a pretty hotel. It stood out from the other gloomy buildings. This was almost the end of the road before they go into jungle trail and bicycling paths.

We stood there and took in the cool mountain air. It was so peaceful with no sound at all. Not even any animal sounds.

We took some posed photos and were laughing about when we suddenly heard loud jeering sounds. I quickly turned around and discovered there were people at the top-level of the hotel, waving friendly ‘hi’s to us! They were laughing so we also waved back to them and smiled. I guess our chattering must have disturbed their peace. Though they looked tiny as it was of a distance, I felt embarrassment climbing up my face. We had been so absorbed with our family picture-taking that we didn’t know we were being ‘observed’ as part of the scenery. Okay, time to scram!

Day1_WengenScenery

It would be nice to stay here and wake up to an entire mountain scenery due to the ‘cliff-edge’ but it would be tiring to go back up again. The only allowed vehicle in this mountainous area is a four-seater buggy which hotel owners used to transport their guests and stuff but they come with a fee.

We ended our walk around 9 plus and went back to rest, planning our walking trail and where to go for the next four days. It would be another long walk tomorrow as we intended to go for a hike.

{ Next Post: Walking Trail in Mannlichen}

  1. Martin June 11, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Dear Singaporan family,

    I truly enjoyed the reading of your travel experiences in Europe. Especially, of course, about my own country, Switzerland.

    In one thing, nevertheless, I have to correct you. It’s about water in Switzerland. In fact, it is a total waste of time and enjoyment to boil water in Switzerland in order to make it drinkable. In fact, literally from (almost) every tap all over the entire of Switzerland you can drink water without any concerns at all. Especially also from the many, many fountain taps you often find densely distributed all over a village, a town, or a city (many of them are hundred of years old, but constantly controlled and improved). For example, Zurich has more than 1100 fountains, and you can hardly get any better (though different) water in the groceries. It’s actually a total waste of money to buy bottled water in groceries (as long as not carbonated and frizzed), if you can get it for free in fact (acually we pay for it, by our taxes, of course: 1.4 billion CHF per year!). Even from your tap in the toilet room of your hotel (germs do not jump!). I would never hesittate to drink wter from any tap in a bath or restroom anywhere in Switzerland! And you can hardly get any better water on the whole world than from an alpine village like Wengen.

    Of course, there are a few exceptions, but then they are indicated accordingly (“Kein Trinkwasser”): On trains, because the water is stored in the carriages, and sometimes from famer’s wooden fountains which serves water to the cows; but often they are perfectely drinkable as well.

    Where in Europe can you get more clean water than in the Alps?! Needless to say, that water is the most stringently controlled food in Switzerland. In Zurich for example, the quality of water is constantly supervised also by the usage of animals besides other means: by some special kind of fish (living ones, of course), which would immediately react negatively as soon as the quality of the water becomes worse … or even too clean (e.g missing of minerals) … and triggering an alarm consequently!

    In average, every Swiss inhabitant uses 162liter drinking water per day. Most of it (29.5%) for flashng the toilets!

    So, please feel free to use as much of our water as you like the next time you will visit Switzerland … and as long as water is still a communal item and not a commercialized one!

    See also: http://www.bafu.admin.ch/wassernutzung/11997/index.html?lang=en , http://www.trinkwasser.ch/dt/frameset.htm?html/wasserversorgung/nav_wvs.html~leftFrame (only in German, French, or Italian), http://www.trinkwasser.ch/dt/html/download/download_01.htm#

    1. Vin June 11, 2014 at 9:28 pm

      Hi Martin,

      Thanks for the info.

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