Panoramic Map of The Jungfrau Region - Wengen sits on a high plateau at 4,000 ft

Panoramic Map of The Jungfrau Region - Wengen sits on a high plateau at 4,000 ft
How to describe Wengen, Switzerland?

Lovely for couples and romance. Great for families and friends. Heaven on earth for skiiers, walkers, climbers and mountain bikers. Fabulous for artists and photographers. Ideal for those who wish to explore Swiss history, enjoy spectacular train journeys and visit beautiful places. Pretty, quiet, picturesque, fresh air galore. A perfect holiday, celebration and conference venue.

There's so much to do and see in and around Wengen. A beautiful car-free Alpine village with a range of accommodation to suit everyone's pocket, all at Swiss-quality standards and service.

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Saturday, 25 January 2014

Crime on Swiss Rail - Beware Pickpockets

While we love living in Switzerland, there is a serious problem with pickpockets in train stations and on trains.

Tourists can be lulled into a false sense of security with the cleanliness and punctuality of public transport in Switzerland.

Here are a few examples of recent crimes we have witnessed or been told about.

Pickpocket at Interlaken Ost Station, September 2013

I boarded a train bound for Bern around 9am. I entered the first class cabin and as I took my seat a distinguished looking, tall Indian gentleman leaped out of the train yelling 'Thief!  Thief!'  He raced down the steps on the platform following a man of about 25.  The train conductors were then right behind him racing down the steps and radioing for help.  A few minutes later, very much out of breath, the man returned to the train.  The young man had bumped into him inside the train as he was boarding - and they were the only two people in sight.  Within a few seconds he realised his wallet had been taken from his back pocket.  He chased after the thief, who had dropped the wallet, and the Swiss Rail personnel had apprehended the thief.  The gentleman was very flustered and out of breath.  I will give the Swiss Rail personnel credit for the their handling of the situation.  They indicated the man would be deported from Switzerland (he was Eastern European).  The train got going towards Bern within about 20 minutes and they provided a free meal for the man and his family.

Thieves working Interlaken West Station, August 2013

Travelling towards Bern from Interlaken Ost, I noticed when we stopped at Interlaken West that there were 2 young men of swarthy appearance on the platform.  One got into the 1st class cabin, the other stayed on the platform.  The man sat down in a seat and then quickly got up, the friend walking along the outside of the carriage.  Just before the train was to depart the man jumped out of the train.  They were clearly casing the carriage.  Swiss Rail personnel were alerted.

Pickpocket at Geneva Airport Station, January 2014

Friends travelling to Wengen were warned about possible pickpockets and had their luggage close to them on the train.  At Geneva Airport the train can sit at the station for several minutes before it departs, allowing ample time for thieves to board and case the carriages.  The short trip to Geneva also allows them to get on the train and travel to Geneva before they are asked for their tickets.  The friend hung his coat on a hook above his head.  His wallet was in the pocket.  By the time they train arrived in Lausanne he noticed his wallet was on the top of the seat just behind his head.  Someone had removed the wallet, taken the cash (200 CHF) and just left the wallet there.  Because my friends were sitting side by side they never saw anyone behind them.

Thieves at Montreaux Station  February 2013

Friends travelling to Gstaad were changing trains at Montreaux to go to Geneva.  This was during half term so the trains were very crowded.  My friend was approached by two young women, one of whom dropped her bag and papers went everywhere.  My friend leaned over to help them and someone behind her took her wallet out of her (open) handbag.  It was only when the ticket collector approached on the train that she realised her wallet (and tickets) had been taken.  The conductor said it was a big problem at Montreaux.

There is a good article on Trip  Advisor about other pickpockets, particularly in Visp.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Article from the New York Times - Hiking the Alps of Goethe and

Andrew Purvis, the author’s friend, hiking to Mürren, in the Bernese Oberland.

We were hiking in fog and drizzle up the barren slopes of Mount Schilthorn, a 9,748-foot-high peak overlooking the Lauterbrunnen Valley in Switzerland. As I inched along a narrow trail, the mist cleared to reveal a long drop on either side into a boulder-strewn abyss. My legs wobbled; my feet slithered over the soggy ground. I reached out to grasp what seemed like a taut rope line, only to feel it sag beneath my trembling fist. Then the trail widened, I steadied myself, and continued my arduous climb toward the summit.

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Joshua Hammer for The New York Times
Rotstockhütte, a hostel.

During the winter season, the Lauterbrunnen Valley ranks among the most popular ski destinations in the Bernese Oberland, a region in the German-speaking part of Switzerland that encompasses four high-altitude valleys and three of the highest peaks in the Alps: the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, all rising to more than 13,000 feet. But I had come here with a Geneva-based friend at the height of the summer to experience the region in a different guise.
From May through October, the Bernese Oberland becomes one of Western Europe’s most challenging and beautiful hiking circuits. Snowy pistes morph into meadows speckled with wildflowers. Ski lodges turn into trekkers’ retreats, and the swoosh of skis and snowboards gives way to the rush of water from dozens of cascades and the tinkle of cowbells. In 1779 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe hiked through the Lauterbrunnen, describing its splendors in his poem, “Spirit Song Over the Waters”: “Down from the lofty rocky wall/ Streams the bright flood,/Then spreadeth gently in cloudy billows/ O’er the smooth rock.” One can spend days, or even weeks, following in Goethe’s footsteps through the Lauterbrunnen and adjacent valleys, hiking 120 miles of well-marked trails and crossing mountain passes that remain encrusted in snow year round. Along the way, rustic huts provide meals and hostel-like accommodation, and the opportunity to mingle with hikers from around the world.
My friend, Andrew Purvis, and I began our weekend trek in late July, traveling by train three hours east from Geneva to the town of Lauterbrunnen, then by narrow-gauge railway and aerial tram straight up from the valley floor to Mürren. Situated on a plateau at 5,400 feet above sea level, this former farming settlement today is a hiking and skiing center, with 450 year-round residents and dozens of hotels and B&Bs. During the summer, day-trippers by the thousands also come for staggering views of the Mönch,Jungfrau and Eiger — the latter immortalized in the 1975 Clint Eastwood thriller “The Eiger Sanction,” which climaxes with a fatal climb on the avalanche-prone north face.
When we pulled into town, however, Mürren was deserted. An icy fog and heavy rain had socked in the town for two days. And the previous morning the Mürren-Schilthorn cable car had broken down near the summit of Schilthorn, forcing dozens of tourists to make a treacherous descent on foot back to the village. The weather, combined with that incident, had almost emptied the town.
After spending the night at the Hotel Jungfrau, a pleasant if nondescript lodge, we awoke to another morning of souplike weather. A funicular took us a few hundred feet higher to the start of the North Face Trail, a popular route since the earliest days of Alpine trekking. The early 19th century saw the first influx of foreign mountaineers to the Swiss Alps — most of them British soldiers — who scaled several high Alpine peaks, including the Jungfrau, with the help of local guides. The British invasion gave rise to hotels and mountain huts, and an Alpine tourism industry that today brings Switzerland billions of tourist dollars annually. The high-altitude walks during those early years could be perilous, as a plaque along the snow-dappled trail reminded us. “In Memory of Alice Charlotte, Wife of Capt. M. Arbuthnot, XIV Hussars,” it read. “Killed by Lightning on the Schilthorn Alp 21 June 1865, Age 23.”
Beyond the plaque, the trail diverged, one route descending around an aquamarine glacial lake, the other climbing steeply to the Schilthorn summit. We opted for the latter. The deserted trail wound above the tree line, crossing tundra, scree slopes and bare black and gray rock. The path became more precipitous, requiring us to pull ourselves up by hand in several places. After two arduous hours, we could see Schilthorn’s summit peeking through the mist, marked by the cable-car terminus and a revolving restaurant, Piz Gloria.

The makers of the 1969 James Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” used this restaurant, then under construction, as the mountaintop lair of the arch villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, played by Telly Savalas. (It was the film crew that came up with the name for the establishment, using a word for “peak” in a Swiss dialect that, in fact, is not spoken in the region.) The slopes below the summit were the scene of one of the most spectacular chases in cinematic history, with Agent 007, played by George Lazenby, Australian used car salesman turned actor, making his escape on skis from Blofeld’s gunmen, into the valley below. Piz Gloria is still exploiting its bygone cinematic glory. Through the windows of the gift shop we spied commemorative plates, coffee mugs, ski vests, T-shirts and other Bond-related kitsch.
Getty Images
The revolving Piz Gloria restaurant was the lair of the James Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

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In the first annual Inferno ski race, held in 1928, the winner took an hour and a half to make the downhill run from Schilthorn through a narrow canyon to the town of Lauterbrunnen; today expert skiers can do it in 30 minutes. During the summer, the descent is far more laborious. We followed trails that switchbacked down a moonscape of loose slate and scree, and at one point lowered ourselves along a fixed, rickety metal ladder that abutted a sheer granite cliff face.
By midafternoon, the fog had lifted, revealing the entire Lauterbrunnen Valley. Below the Alpine massif lay rounded hills carpeted in pale-green pasture, intersected by rivulets of glacial water that sparkled silver in the sun. On a crag below us a steinbok stood in statuesque repose. Farther down, as we hopscotched across a field of boulders, a marmot popped out from beneath the rocks.
We crossed an icy stream, traversed a meadow, then, knees throbbing from the three-hour descent, arrived at Rotstockhütte, a two-story stone hut. At 6,500 feet, Rotstockhütte is one of 10 hostels that dot the Lauterbrunnen and its three adjacent valleys. At 6:30 in the evening, the rustic inn was filled to capacity with 50 hikers from South Africa, France, Germany, Japan, the United States, Scandinavia and Switzerland. We took seats at a picnic table alongside four teenage Finnish girl scouts. A Babel of languages filled the cramped space as we dined on chicken soup, pasta and Bolognese sauce, with crème brûlée for dessert.
Stepping outside after the meal, I could see my breath in the subfreezing air. The first stars had appeared, raising hopes for a fine morning hike back to Mürren. Upstairs, in the communal sleeping quarters, mattresses and blankets were laid out side by side; a thin walkway running down the center of the dormitory was now clogged with backpacks and other gear. I fell quickly to sleep, waking on occasion to a symphony of snores from my fellow hikers.
The next morning, I gazed north across the valley at a spectacular sight: the knifelike peaks of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, framed by a cloudless sky. Glaciers clung to their gray flanks, and puffs of snow were blowing off their summits. I fell into conversation with a couple from the Allston neighborhood of Boston, avid hikers who trekked almost every summer in the Rockies and the Grand Tetons. This summer they had opted for a 10-day hike through the Oberland, exploring all four valleys and sleeping in a different hütte every night. They were begging off on the ascent of Schilthorn, however. “We’re trying to keep it relaxed,” said Calvin, a retired teacher.
The trail wound west, following high-mountain pastures. Dairy cattle grazed on the slopes, their bells tinkling madly. To our right rose a mountain wall, covered with conifer forest, and above, bare rock shrouded in snow. Hikers passed us with the standard Swiss-German greeting “Grüezi.” Then, after yet another knee-taxing descent, we could see the plateau stretched out before us. With a sense of relief — tinged with regret — we reached flat ground, and began the final push back to Mürren.
Mid-May through early August is the high season for hiking in the Swiss Alps. The climb to the top of Schilthorn and back down into the Lauterbrunnen Valley is long and strenuous, and while you don’t need professional climbing skills, you should be in good shape. (There are plenty of less strenuous hikes in the Lauterbrunnen Valley as well.)
We traveled by train from Geneva to Lauterbrunnen, with changes at Bern and Interlaken; from there a narrow-gauge railway heads steeply uphill to Mürren. The round-trip second-class fare is 161.20 Swiss francs, about $176 at $1.05 to the franc.
There are dozens of bed-and-breakfasts to choose from in Mürren; the one we picked, theHotel Jungfrau (41-22-856-6464;, was clean, serviceable and reasonably cheap, at 85 francs for a single room.
Rotstockhütte (41-33 855-2464;, the hiker’s hut where we spent the night after the long day’s hike, costs 70 francs, including a hearty breakfast and dinner; reservations should be made for the summer.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Second Home Legislation and Wengen

The Financial Times has published a very interesting article about the impact that the second homes legislation will have on Wengen.  View this article

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Another successful year for Wengen and the Lauberhorn Races

Today brought to a close a weekend of fantastic skiing in Wengen.

Felix Neureuther (28) of Germany powered to the World Cup slalom win today by 0.21 seconds over Austrian Marcel Hirscher (23). It was the Fourth World Cup victory for the German.  Croat Ivica Kostelic (33), who has won this race three times, finished third. 

The Swiss team had a disappointing 21 place finish by Ramon Zenhäusern with Marc Gini and Markus Vogel finishing 23rd and 25th, respectively.

Felix Neureuther, winner of the World Cup Slalom in Wengen

Yesterday Christof Innerhofer (ITA) won the men's downhill with a convincing run down the Lauberhorn course.  In perfect conditions he stood out from the very powerful Austrian team with Klaus Kroell (AUT) and Hannes Reichelt (AUT) finishing 2nd and 3rd.

Christof Innerhofer, winner of the World Cup Lauberhorn Race in Wengen

The New York Times article on the downhill can be found here.  

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Lauberhorn Race 2013

The 2013 Lauberhorn Race kicks off this evening in Wengen village.  With temperatures hovering around -10C and frequent light snowfall conditions are perfect for an outstanding 3 days of racing.  The party starts this evening with the draw for the combined downhill slalom.  Racing starts on Friday morning at 10.30am.

Preparations are underway in Wengen for the 2013 Lauberhorn Race
Pavilions are being constructed in the centre of Wengen

Friday, 11 January 2013

Snow Snow Snow in Wengen

After a couple of weeks of temperatures just above freezing the snow is falling!  In the village of Wengen there has been about 50cm today with more expected over the weekend.  Perfect conditions for the 2013 Lauberhorn race starting on the 18th of January 2013.

1600 on 11 January 2013 in Wengen looking down the Lauterbrunnen Valley

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Lauberhorn Downhill Race 2013 in Wengen

Preparations are underway for the 2013 Lauberhorn Race to be held in Wengen in January.

Here is the preliminary schedule:


Wednesday January 16, 2013
12.30 pm Lauberhorn Downhill training run
Thursday January 17, 2013
11.30 am Patrouille Suisse (Training)
12.30 pm Lauberhorn Downhill training run
05.15 pm Official Opening of the 83rd Int. Lauberhorn
 Races in Wengen
05.45 pm Drawing of numbers for the Lauberhorn Super
 Combined Downhill
05.00 pm – 10.00 pm Entertainment and food in the World Cup
Village Wengen
Friday January 18, 2013
from 09.30 am Food booths open along the slope, in the finish
 area and at Girmschbiel
10.30 am Super Combined Downhill Logo SF2
1.20 pm Patrouille Suisse (air show training)
2 pm Super Combined Slalom (one run)
3 pm bis 2 pm Entertainment and food in the World Cup
Village Wengen
6.15 pm Drawing of numbers for the Lauberhorn Downhill
 in the World Cup Village Wengen
7 pm Prize-giving ceremony for the Super Combined
 in the World Cup Village Wengen
Saturday January 19, 2013
from 10.30 am Verpflegung im Ziel, entlang der Piste
und auf Wengernalp
11.40 am Patrouille Suisse (air show)
12.30 pm Lauberhorn Downhill
1 pm – 2 am Entertainment and food in the World Cup
Village Wengen
6.15 pm Drawing of numbers for the Lauberhorn Slalom
 in the World Cup Village in Wengen
7 pm Prize-giving ceremony for the Lauberhorn Downhill
 in the World Cup Village Wengen
Sunday January 20, 2013
from 9 am Food and entertainment in the Finish area (big screen)
10.15 am Slalom 1st run
1.15 pm Slalom 2nd run
10 am – 5 pm Entertainment and food in the World Cup Village Wengen
3.45 pm Prize-giving ceremony