Sunday, 11 October 2009

Lauterbrunnen and Jungfraujoch

Last weekend the weather forecast was very promising so we took the opportunity to get in some last camping of the season before the days became too short and cold with the onset of Winter, so we headed up to Lauterbrunnen near Interlaken.

Although I'd taken my parents there when they were visiting the first time, Linda hadn't been there before and I was keen that she should see it. I remember Lauterbrunnen being one of the more impressive places to visit, and so I found a campsite nearby.

We headed up on Saturday and spent the day in the valley around Lauterbrunnen, visiting the falls above the town and also the Trümmelbach Falls, a series of 10 falls inside the wall of the glacial valley.

Afterwards we caught a lift up to Murren, a little town at the top of the cliffs which look over the Lauterbrunnen valley.

After a night of camping, we caught the Jungfraubahn to the Jungfraujoch station; the "Top of Europe" and highest train station in the alps at 3450m.

To reach the station you travel through the face of the Eiger mountain and end up at a col between the Monch and Jungfrau mountain peaks. The view from the Sphynx observatory is amazing, especially of the Aletsch Glacier, which is itself the largest glacier in the Alps.

After descending back down to Kleine Scheidegg, we walked the rest of the route down to Wengen, before finally catching the cog-railway back down to Lauterbrunnen.

It was a fantastic weekend in the amazing UNESCO classified region. We're quite keen to come back in Winter and do it all again (although perhaps not in a tent this time)!

Friday, 2 October 2009


Normally after spending a week away on holiday, I'm tempted to chronicle the whole thing in great detail over a number of posts. However, following the lesson I've learned from my failed blogging of Tunisia, I've decided it's better to get it done quick-and-dirty rather than live with the guilt of never finding the time to do it 'properly'.

So, here follows the abridged version:

We flew into Split, which makes an excellent stepping off point and in fact it has some quite interesting features.
The most obvious landmark of Split is Diocletian's Palace, that Diocletian built for himself in 305 AD as a kind of retirement village. Now it is UNESCO protected.
There is also some nice beaches nearby if you get tired of stomping around the streets. At the end of our trip when we were flying out again, we spent some time at the beaches watching the locals playing their curious handball game, which seems to involve a lot of extravagant diving for the ball in the ankle-deep water.

From Split we caught the bus down to Dubrovnik, which we'd heard lots of good things about but honestly didn't know much about before we arrived in Croatia (in fact this is pretty much true of our entire trip - it has been a busy time lately!)
We had a really nice time in Dubrovnik - staying in the old town and spending our time wandering around the paved limestone streets that had been polished smooth but so many feet over the years, and eating delicious seafood.
We finished off our time in Dubrovnik with a walk around the walls at sunset.

From Dubrovnik we caught the ferry to Mljet, which is a quiet island with a national park and some inland saltwater 'lakes' (actually they are open to the sea).
We hired bikes and rode from our town around the lakes, having lunch at the old Monastery on an island. This was really lovely and our first real opportunity to do some swimming in the sea-water; something we really miss living in Switzerland.
Unfortunately we had to get up early the next day to catch the ferry our of Mljet, but at least we got to watch the dawn!

Next stop was Korcula, which is a leaf-shaped town still further north from Mljet.
We had another fantastic time in Korcula, although our first trip out of town to 'the best beach on the island' turned out to be a bit disappointing. I guess as Australians our expectations are set a bit unrealistically high, but the beach was small and brown, and the water was shallow.
We turned this around later, however, when we went swimming off the rocks right outside the town walls. We could walk straight out of our room, down some steps, and dive into the clear water of the Adriatic.
I think we would have happily spent more time in Korcula.

Our last island stop was Hvar, which is a popular tourist destination, and its harbor was still full of mega-yachts even at the end of September when we were visiting.
Once more we had a fantastic time in Hvar, which is an interesting town to wander around, with more good seafood.
The best day we had in Hvar (and possibly the whole trip) was the second-to-last day in Croatia when we hired a little motor boat to tour around the islands off the coast of the main island. We spent the afternoon putt-ing from bay to cove, swimming in the beautiful clear water.
We finished our last night in Hvar and Croatia watching the sun set from the balcony of our apartment.
You can click through any of the photos taken by Linda and I to see the whole album of that area.