This clip is the first of a five-day series of fun I had with my Rick Steves’ Best of Europe Tour group high in the Swiss Alps. (Up next: James Bond WCs at 10,000 feet, The New Thrill Walk at Birg, The Mighty Trümmelbach Falls, and The Cows Coming Down from the High Alps).
As guides, we are really dependent upon good weather to fully enjoy the Swiss Alps. The truth is: The Alps are most staggeringly beautiful and unforgettable when it’s sunny. And on this tour, we enjoyed the most beautiful day I can remember, high in Switzerland’s Berner Oberland. Of our group of 27 TMs (as we call our tour members), 24 joined us on this all-day alpine excursion. This video clip is a moment from the last part of the Mürren to Grütschalp hike.
For a peek at how we design such a day (and share our experiences with our other groups), here are my rough notes for our other tour guides:
Guide Notes — Day 17 of Rick Steves’ Best of Europe Tour: Swiss Alps
Free day in Alps. If sunny, guide should organize this day and lead it. (Lift tickets discounted if 20 or more are individual tickets, so TMs can peel off if and when they like. Remind group you’ll collect tomorrow in euros so they don’t need to hit ATM for more SF.)
8:00 – Bus to lift.
8:25-8:55 – Catch lift Stechelberg to Schilthorn, 10,000 feet above sea level (beating the crowds and any clouds that may gather later in the morning) — watch altimeter in cable car as you rise, remind group at this altitude you get winded very easy.
9:00-10:30 – After five-minute orientation, free time at Schilthorn (new viewpoint out back, great James Bond clips in theater, revolving restaurant for hot chocolate or a pastry).
10:30 – Gather group outside funny James Bond WCs and catch 10:35 lift down together to Birg station.
10:40-11:10 – Free time at Birg – wonderful new Thrill Walk (takes 15 minutes max), fine terrace and glass floor with view down on Thrill Walk alternative. (Just miss one lift to make time for Birg, be in line before next lift arrives from Schilthorn to fill 11:15 cable car down to Mürren with no extra wait.)
11:20-12:30 – Mürren, short orientation town walk, free hour for lunch, stop at Co-op grocery store – perfect for picnic (demo weighing a single grape and printing out price and wrapping grape in it), meet at station at far end of town.
12:30-14:10 – Hike Mürren to Grütschalp with stop midway at Winteregg dairy farm for fresh home-made yogurt, and Alp cheese (pay for goodies, one small 1-SF yogurt per couple, 2 spoons, old mountain cheese, handy WC). They also do a cheese tasting with three varieties if you like.
14:15 – At Grütschalp station, buy group lift tickets down to Lauterbrunnen (to get them discount, collect tomorrow in euros).
14:20-15:00 – Walk through Lauterbrunnen, meet at waterfall far end of town (just past Horners, the BASE jumpers’ favorite pub). Tell story of how the waterfall throws rocks and can be dangerous (especially after rain storm).
15:00-16:00 – Hike up valley to Trümmelbach (point out cow bells under eves of old farmhouses).
16:00-17:00 – Tour Trümmelbach Falls (group discount admission is 10.50 SF. Tell the lady you’ll pay the 50 cents per TM and let TMs just pay 10 SF as they enter. This saves time and frustration.) Ride elevator through mountain with group, explain best underground waterfall caves are within 100 meters above top of lift. Call bus driver to meet you one hour after arrival.
17:00 – Bus picks up group there, shuttle back to hotel.
19:00 – Dinner at hotel (Alp horn concert and demo tonight if not last night).