What else would you call a place that has snow-covered peaks, steep slopes with pure glacier waterfalls, flower-bedecked wooden chalets, miles of undulating green meadows dotted with millions of tiny wildflowers, lazy-roaming healthy Alpine cows echoing notes of mellifluous music from their neck-bells and a subtle breeze in a salubrious weather with occasional, cool cotton-clouds embracing you?
Nestled in the alluring Alps right in the middle of Bernes Oberland region overlooking the laid-back Lauterbrunnen valley in Switzerland is this quaint, old, car-free village called Mürren, perched on a cliff with panoramic views of Mönch, Eiger and the formidable Jungfrau.
The first day of our weeklong sojourn in the picturesque Lauterbrunnen town was a repeat visit to Murren and then walk along the ridge to Gimmelwald and back. We had been to Murren on a day trip 17 years ago – on 15 July 2005 to be exact – from Interlaken.
First, our Murren experience….
A funicular service from the center of Lauterbrunnen took us to Grütschalp – an almost 60 degree ride on a century-old rail track with an additional claw-chain to pull up the carriages – from where a waiting toy train took us to Mürren.
We got off and walked into the village, where typical Swiss chalets and chalet-type hotels – not many- welcomed us in an otherwise quaint, little village with just a few hundred residents. No touristy traps, no nagging guides, no monuments, no museums, no queues and yes… no cars! You get around the village on mountain bikes or just walk, if you prefer. With just two main streets and a few side lanes- all ending up at the same place at the other end of the village- why would anyone ever need a car?
As we were walking along the main street, we noticed that even a muted conversation could be louder. The street wore a fairy-tale aura – squeaky clean with flowers of various hues and colours along the sides and benches made of wooden planks just to relax and watch the time pass by.
We walked up to the other end of the village to take a ride on the Allmendhubel funicular to the top of the village but unfortunately the finical was not operating until a week later.
Bit disappointed we walked back to the village. An open-terrace restaurant with a high grown tree, abundant with tiny flowers, glowing in copper and bronze hues of the morning sun, welcomed us. Quickly we pulled a chair and ordered a cheese cake, sandwich and coffee. The mountains were just a stone’s throw away, simply overpowering and numbingly beautiful.
You can sit all day long watching the snow-clad mountains and listening to the musical sounds of melting snow trickling down to form matt-white rivulets with a cup of coffee or a pitcher of German lager. You can watch the Alpine cows, sheep and goats gracing in the carpeted, undulating meadows in the sprawling Lauterbrunnen valley far below and above. You can watch some adventurous paragliders and occasional helicopters carrying fat-pursed tourists passing you by.
The sun and clouds were playing hide and seek. As we were soaking in the warmth of the morning sun, a huge billow of cool cotton-cloud from the mountains rolled in carrying gentle Alpine breeze and embraced us. And we disappeared for a while! It was a cinematic experience or should I say, a fairytale dream! It was simply idyllic.
It was well past 1 in the afternoon so we finished our sumptuous cake, sandwich and coffee, walked to the nearby small Coop convenience store, bought a few snacks and water and started our trekking to Gimmelwald.
Murren is not for everyone; it is reserved and exclusive for seekers of unblemished natural beauty in abundance. It is for those who want to go far away from the madding crowd…
You have only the pristine nature to keep you company.
Trust me; it is a piece of paradise on earth….