Paragliding in Brienz
The Brienzer Rothorn is a paradise for Paragliders and quite often you will see paraglider-Tandem-pilots waiting for their passengers to fly with them down again...
You may book such flights some time in advance ( without knowing what the weather will be like ) or simply take the cog-wheel-trai. to the top and search for a pilot there. As long as you don't come in the high season, it will be easy to find a pilot there and that way you may decide on top of the mountain, if you dare to fly down with one of the pilots. The pilot on my picture was waiting 2 hours in vain before he decided to fly down alone. In fact he was not only going downwards, BUT was able to find a perfect wind to take him UP several hundred meters, before he sailed down to the valley...
200 sfr / 140 Euros is the tandem-flight down The equipment is given by the pilot - they always have a large rucksack with all necessary equipments.
Dirrengrind - on the way to Rothorn
Dirrengrind is an interesting mountain and you will pass by it on the way to Rothorn - it is the massiv mountain in black on my main picture. The Brienzer Rothornbahn has a passing-place there, so you may leave the train in order to go hiking in that area, BUT you better inform the conductor in advance, that you plan to do so. The first train that arrives next to Dirrengrind will stay there waiting for the oncoming train, but the other train will just go through without stopping.
The alpine Museum in Soerenbergbahn
Inside the station of the Soerenberg-cable-car on top of Brienzer Rothorn you may see a small exhibition of alpine plants and of wildlife in the Swiss alps. It might most probably be your only chance to see some of these rare and shy animals from a short distance and that exhibition is free of charge and open as long as the cable-car is in operation. That museum is in the same building as the cash for the cable-car and the restaurant/cafe "Gipfelrestaurant Rothorn".
The mountain-station of Soerenberg-cable-car is very close to the Rothorn Kulm restaurant.
A Little Confusing...
I was a little thrown off, then I got it.
Some houses are set up as they would have been lived in.
Others are not. They are set up with crafters showcasing a skill. So you might go into a farmhouse and see a hatmaker in action. But this was not the hatmaker's house! Get it? Took me awhile...
Some handicrafts you can see in action:
Commentary is in German!
Signs are in German and French.
"In and about the town of Brienz"
My heart skipped a beat as I stepped down from the train. The sight that awaited us on getting down at the tiny Brienz train station was simply breathtaking - a spectacular pastel green lake completely surrounded by snow-capped mountains and gushing waterfalls.
Brienz is a small town located on the north bank of Lake Brienz in Bernese Oberland - the heart of Switzerland. I was on vacation with my husband and my two young children, Soham and Srishti and we chose to stay at Brienz rather than the more famous Interlaken because we wanted to avoid the crowds and enjoy the ambience of a quiet scenic town. True to our expectations, we found Brienz to be my ‘dream come true’ - breathtaking beauty amidst tranquil surroundings!
We had booked ourselves at a 3 Star hotel called Hotel Lindenhof which was a 10 mins walk from the train station and located on an uphill slope. It was an absolutely cute hotel and we found our family apartment to be creatively decorated with wooden tree-trunk benches and tables, tastefully decorated bedrooms and even a tree inside the living room with three stuffed animals perched on it! The balcony opened out to vistas of misty mountains, the Lake Brienz, a train track and cows grazing in the distance.
We started the evening with a walk around town and ambled along the main street which had a few souvenir and woodcarving shops (Brienz is famous as the most accomplished centre for woodcarving in Switzerland). All the residential houses and hotels are situated along uphill paths leading off from the main street. After a while we left for dinner at historic Grandhotel Giessbach next to the famous waterfall in that area called Giessbach Waterfall.
Grandhotel Giessbach can be reached by taking the ferry from Brienz and then taking the Giessbach Bahn - Europe’s oldest funicular train. Since the ferry doesn’t run in the evenings, we hired a cab which took us through a 20 minute mountain route to the Giessbach waterfall. The hotel was located in a spectacular setting with views of the mountains surrounding the hotel, lake Brienz below and thundering waterfall right next to it. It is a luxurious turn-of-the-century hotel complete with turrets and imposing stairways. We had a sumptuous dinner at the ‘Park Restaurant’ belonging to the hotel, to the accompaniment of live piano music and my Swiss specialty Rosti with baked chicken tasted simply divine!
"Day-trips to Titlis and Schilthorn"
Brienz is centrally located in Bernese Oberland and one can easily do day-trips to several highlights around that region. So the next day we started out early to do the two and half hour train trip to Engelberg from where we took the revolving cable car ‘ROTAIR’ to Mount Titlis. Once we landed at the top, our children went crazy with excitement looking at snow all around them and spent a good hour sliding down snow mounds and snowball-fighting, amidst peals of laughter. The weather was wonderful that day – bright and sunny and we soon started discarding all the coats and jackets that we had worn.
We took the Ice Flyer Lift- a chair lift to go to the Titlis Glacier Park, an area where there are loads of easy snow games available like snow tubing, snow scooters, sledges etc. This place had mostly Indians all going mad with excitement and chattering away in Hindi while trying out various equipments to slide down the snowy slopes. We Indians who live in hot and dusty cities in India, don’t get to experience snow at such close quarters and hence the excitement was understandable. Soham did a scooter ride pretty well while my hubby tumbled off mid-way on his scooter. After a thorough fill of snow games we descended from Titlis after a few hours and got back to Brienz in the evening.
The next morning we headed towards Schilthorn – a summit from where one can get panoramic views of all the Bernese Alps mountains like the Titlis, Jungfrau, Mönch, Eiger. There is a circular viewing platform on the Schilthorn summit with a revolving restaurant called Piz Gloria which has been made famous by shooting of the James Bond movie ‘On her Majesty’s secret service’. Unfortunately by the time we reached Schilthorn the whole place was shrouded in mist. We couldn’t see any of the famous mountains and had to spend our time sitting at the cheerful revolving restaurant instead. We came down after a while and on reaching the cable-car station base at Stechelberg decided to walk to Trummelbach falls.
The road from Stechelberg to Trummelbach falls runs in between meadows of bright yellow flowers, surrounded by mighty mountains and waterfalls. It was a most wonderful half an hour walk and though Srishti and Soham walked along boldly for a while, they complained shortly and my hubby had to carry Srishti on his shoulders.
Trummelbach is a waterfall fall created by the confluence of melting snow from the glaciers of Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau and located inside a mountain cave. We had to take an elevator to the top where the tour of the waterfall cascades begins. There are ten cascades in all and one has to further climb up through stairs to visit each of them. The thundering stream of water cuts through the hard rock with a deafening sound, carving crevices and caves inside the mountain. As we climbed up, we found the stairs and caves to be all damp and were often sprayed with water from the cascading falls bouncing off the rocks. There are viewpoints created for tourists all along the route and one can admire the force and fury of water from real close. The reverberating noise of the falls made Soham and Srishti shout at the top of their voices to make themselves heard. Once we finished looking at all the cascades, we climbed down to the base and spent some time sitting on the rocks next to the stream formed from the falls. There was a notice put up about the strong water currents, hence we didn’t dare dip our feet in the stream – that would have been fun! We had a small snack at the self-service restaurant at the base and then headed off to our hotel.
"Ballenberg Open Air Museum"
Our last day in Switzerland and we had to see one last attraction – the Ballenberg Open air museum near Brienz. This is a unique concept which showcases rural Switzerland as it was in the bygone days. Spread over sprawling acres of hilly forests and meadows, the museum boasts of century-old buildings from all over Switzerland, farmyard animals and demonstrations of traditional crafts. The whole area is divided into different regions or cantons of Switzerland and in each of these cantons there are people dressed in farming clothes of that region, demonstrating the different skills and crafts. We saw bakers putting dough in huge coal-fired ovens to make bread, cheese-maker stirring up a huge cauldron of curds and whey to make cheese (he was even offering glasses of whey to visitors), farmers threshing grain by beating their flail to synchronized beats and ladies in old-style pinafores weaving baskets or knitting sweaters. We walked through a forest path to a place which had farm animals and we could feed them grass. It was such a delight to watch the donkeys and rabbits hungrily tear away the grass from our hands and munch on happily!
We next went to checkout the interiors of some farmhouses and were surprised to find fully furnished kitchens, bedrooms, living rooms and work-rooms of reconstructed original houses and farm buildings from past centuries, with artifacts and furniture from that era. We had very little time that day, so we hurried through a good part of the grounds in under 2 hours. It’s a pity we couldn’t spend more time here and left the place after buying packs of their freshly made cheese and chocolates.
We had to pack up at our hotel and leave by 2 pm as we were taking a flight to India that evening. We said a wistful goodbye to beautiful Brienz and promised that we would come back to this delightful place again!