Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Playground At 6,250ft

"Don't launch your brother over the side of the cliff"
Swiss ski season is starting up, and the picture perfect postcard villages are readying their luxurious chalets for high paying visitors. I'm not a fan of the winter sport, but the cliffside town of Mürren could charm me into a return visit during the chilly months ahead. I'd happily pack up our warm woolies and brave the cable car ride again just to visit this adorable alpine town up in the clouds.

Switzerland is an adventurers paradise, but with a ten year old and a seven year old in tow we weren't looking to climb the world famous Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau mountains on our summer 2012 stop in the Swiss Alps. Some easy hiking and fun sightseeing were all we needed before leaving for Zurich and heading home. Rick Steves' Switzerland recommended the traffic free town of Mürren with it's family friendly trails, charming village, a scenic playground, and breathtaking views.

Eiger and the C&Gs, great band name
Mürren sits 5,413 feet above the Lauterbrunnen Valley and is the perfect place to go for some alpine adventures in any season. Accessible only by cable car and virtually vehicle free, kiddos (and cows) can roam the town. Right before we left home I swapped a day from Zurich and extended our stay in Mürren to three days and I'm so glad I did. It was the right amount of time for exploring the natural beauty of the Jungfrau region.

The adventure starts when you park your car at the bottom of the cable car station, under the roaring glacial waterfall of Trümmelbach Falls. Buy your ticket and line up with the British and German base jumpers, slightly smelly (but cute) young backpackers with an adrenaline addiction. You'll see them leaping off the sides of the mountains and gliding gracefully into the valleys below.

Mürren sits on the edge of a cliff (it's a long way down for the errant tennis balls at the town court) at a very high elevation, so be sure to bring warm clothes. The clouds roll in and the temperatures drop, but as soon as the sun comes out grab a spot on the nearest bench and enjoy the views. Snow tops all the mountains surrounding you (no matter what the month) and you'll find water fountains all over town with freshly melted glacial water flowing freely from the tap.

Climb up another thousand feet above the town for a playground with a world class view by riding the Allmendhübel funicular. There's a quaint little restaurant where they serve delicious Swiss specialties like rösti (fried potatoes and eggs) and a lovely sun patio where you can enjoy a beverage while the kiddos swing, slide, and try not to launch themselves over the side. Don't worry, there are plenty of fences to keep them and the cows from wandering too far.

Sandwiches and ice cream for the weary hikers
Many of the hikes start from this point and if your crew isn't feeling too adventurous there are a few short walking trails around the restaurant that will make you feel like you've conquered the Alps. At least the big three mountains are always in the background so you can snap some impressive pictures.

Pick up a detailed hiking map at your hotel and be sure to ask for recommendations. Lots of the trails are family friendly and they'll be able to guide you to the right one. The maps show trail difficulty and estimates for how long it should take, obviously not accounting for short little legs. We headed out on the trail to a small restaurant about an hour's hike away that was well marked on the map. Little C&G is not an enthusiastic hiker (but give him a soccer field and he could run forever) so we ended up taking lots of breaks on the benches that dotted the trails.

After a long day in the fresh mountain air, head indoors to a heated pool to stretch and soothe your tired muscles. Most of the hotels offer a free visitors pass to the Sports Center and the little C&Gs loved swimming with the snow capped mountains in view. Towels, lockers, and showers are available for use, and a new spa is scheduled to open next summer. Stay tuned for tomorrows' post when I'll fill you in on the more important things. Like where you can follow in Diana Rigg's footsteps and toss back a martini at 9,000+ feet.

1 comment:

  1. Just reading this sends my acrophobia to a whole new level. I fear there is not enough alcohol in Murren to get me up that cable car! Glad I have C&G to experience it for me. It looks gorgeous!