We stepped out of the miserable rain on a Monday morning in Luzern into a heavily snowing Berner Oberland via the Golden Pass route (Luzern – Brünigpass – Interlaken – Zweisimmen – Montreux) – it would have been all that was promised, except for the perpetual low cloud cover and the grey, washed-out landscape.
Mürren, our final destination, was quite mercifully, the pretty and silent ghost town before it throws open its doors to the skiers and the ski season starting this saturday – our crippling disadvantage however, lies in the sheer lack of options in eating and outdoor activities. On our last evening, we stayed close and dined downstairs, and left ourselves to the mercy of a Swiss-German waiter who spoke half in English.
A Spanish couple came in not too much later and ordered only Rosti, which was only listed as a side on the menu.
“I want only rosti,” the man announced loudly to the waiter.
“Rosti, for me also,” said his companion.
“Rosti, mains, ja?”
“No, just rosti!”
“Rosti, sausage, ja?”
“No, only rosti!”
“Nein? Rosti? Hier, ja?” The poor confused waiter pointed to the mains in the menu.
“No, no, no, no, no!”
“Just rosti!” It later led him to apologise after the comedy of errors.
“I’m sorry…Felix…your name?” the Spanish man said earnestly, touching the poor man on the arm, “I just want Rosti, because I am Spanish, and I like Rosti very much. It’s my fault, my English is not good.”
“I…aber Englisch auch..”, bumbled the poor man as he walked to the kitchens, later confusing himself further by talking to us peppered with Spanish terms.
Coming this late into the shoulder season does have its advantageous though; streets are empty and the delayed snowfall that had sent many hoteliers and ski operators into a panic, finally came down in abundance on the day we arrived. It was most unfortunate that our hotel was right at the end of town, 15 minutes from the BLM – the definition of hell with luggage that is not a backpack.
The natural route from Mürren is a 20 min cable car ride up to Schilthorn but the mountain had been closed for 2 days because of strong winds. The next course of action was to head for Jungfraujoch (touted proudly by all the tourist offices around the villages as the top of Europe) but it was quite a long journey up via Wengen, Kleine Scheidegg in slow trains and several changes along the way. It was literally a snow-out: little visibility, 75km/h winds that hurled snow in the face and tons of people who piled themselves into the train.
I was cautiously optimistic (but secretly apprehensive that Central Switzerland wouldn’t live up to years of expectation) and now, have surprisingly little to say about Berner Oberland, even though mountain towns have been nothing but quaint. Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen have been incredibly touristy and it was hard to get over the shock of the loud-mouthed tourist hordes that you’d think only afflict high season travel periods.