On Wednesday July 20th we left home and headed to Switzerland for a ten nights stay in a typical Swiss chalet in the longest village of Europe called Beatenberg.
Beatenberg is about 7km of length, located close to Interlaken and the lake of Thun in the canton of Bern, elevation approx 1150m, population about 1200.
Maybe you already read my post on the horrible accommodation, so I don't go into details anymore.
Let's concentrate on the many great things we did, great views we had, great people we met and great dishes we ate.
City of INTERLAKEN and its neighbor UNTERSEEN
On the first day after arrival we visited Interlaken and Unterseen.
Honestly I don't think there's much to do or see in Interlaken, or maybe we just didn't look for the right things on the right places, or we should have checked the attractions in advance . . . .
. . . . but it's easygoing, centrally located to explore the surroundings, in a magnificent scenery located between the lake of Thun and the lake of Brienz.
It's not that big, so you can see most of it by walking around.
We strolled along the streets, starting at Höhematte, following Höhe Weg, then Marktgasse leading to the river Aare and Unterseen with it's lovely old wooden chalets, a parish church from 1852/1853 and a castle dated 1656.
Then we returned via the railway station Interlaken West and the Bahnhofstrasse to Höhe Weg.
Höhe Weg is a boulevard stretching through the city centre with souvenir shops, expensive hotels and jewelry stores and a big green square at the end called Höhematte with a unique view of the mountain Jungfrau.
Right behind the tennis court on Höhematte there is also a playground which our kids enjoyed.
There are constantly paragliders and hanggliders landing in that area, which is another impressive spectacle.
You can also discover Interlaken and Unterseen in a mini sightseeing train, a horse-drawn tram or by horse carriage tour, we did none of these.
But there are some things we would like to do or see next time in Interlaken:
- having a look at the Japanese Garden
- visiting the Harder Kulm with the Two Lakes Bridge
- visiting the Interlaken Alpine Game Park (Alpine Wildlife Park)
- maybe also the Jungfrau Park with its Mystery World, Mysty Land, a.s.o.
To discover more of Interlaken and Unterseen, please check here.
St BEATUS CAVES
As I remembered visiting the St Beatus Caves about 25 years ago, we had been talking about visiting the caves even before we left home.
As the kids were impatient to see the caves of St Beatus, we went there on our second day.
You will find the St Beatus caves on the North side of the lake of Thun, only minutes from Interlaken, and right underneath Beatenberg.
On arrival you have to achieve a steady ascent way to the caves, passing the waterfalls and the playground if you were lucky enough to catch a parking plot along the street, or walk passing the woods from the upper parking space.
Since 2015 it's allowed to visit the caves without a guide, on your own. It's also allowed to film or take photographies inside the caves.
About 900m of the caves are open to public of a total of 14 km which are explored. It's a discovery of a world long forgotten of stalactites and stalagmites formed by nature.
We visited the caves on our own, and though there were many tourist, and all parking plots taken (we only had one after waiting for another car to leave - about 15 minutes), it was not overcrowded.
Fortunately we did not encounter with a guided tour. I read on some tripadvisor reviews, that these guided visits are over-crowded and badly managed. so: lucky us!
The caves are really impressive, though a lot smaller than you might think.
Not the main path with leads through the caves, this one is well maintained and exposed and ok if you're under 185 cm tall. But pictures showing grottos and caves might make you believe the are endless and huge, but once you're in front you realize that it's not the case.
Nevertheless we all enjoyed this visit as well as lunch at the restaurant at the caves with a stunning view of the surroundings.
After a yummy late lunch, we stayed for another hour at the playground before heading to our car.
BEATENBERG and NIEDERHORN
Though I described Beatenberg as a dying village in a previous blog post, it still has it's beauty and charm.
Known as the longest village in Europe, it's well known for its stunning panoramic views high above the lake of Thun and facing the well known mountains Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.
As a tourist staying in Beatenberg you have to pay a tourist tax, calculated per night, and receive a tourist card wich entitles your complete family to some reductions as well as to free bus rides from and to Interlaken.
Playground in Beatenberg
The playground Spirenwald just beyond the office of 'Beatenberg Tourismus' is great fun for kids of different ages.
It has been completely refurbished and extended in 2015.
There is a giant jumping pillow, a bicycle pump track and three bicycles, a swing set and a big round swing, a trampoline, a sandpit with toys, a huge wooden climbing frame and playing house with slide as well big plastic playhouse with slide a.s.o for the little ones as well as a fireplace for bbq and many seatings.
We spent many many hours on this playground and it was well frequented by tourist as well as local kids. Our kids really enjoyed this playground and made lots of new friends there.
Shops in Beatenberg
There is one bakery and two grocery shops in Beatenberg:
Andrea's Lädeli (next door neighbor to the Dorint Hotel direction Beatenberg funicular and cable car station)
Bakery 'Bäkerei Tea-Room Bel-Air' www.bel-air.ch (located half-way between the sbt /former hotel Victoria and the tourism office)
'Jasmina's Früchte und Gemüseshop' (only a few steps from the tourist office and playground)
The owner's and staff at each of these shops were always nice and friendly, good service, good selection, rather good opening hours...nothing to complain about.
Further more you'll find two more stationary shops / newsagents, a bar, a hairdresser a.s.o.
Please find a complete list here.
'Beatusweg' the walk of St Beat
When preparing our holiday, I had found some information on a nice walk with playgrounds, information boards on the mystic story of St Beat, picnic areas a.s.o. which is called 'Beatusweg'
On Sunday we took the bus to the neighborhood 'Waldegg' where the tour starts.
It's about 3,5 km from departure to finish, but as we had taken our picnic and spend a lot of time on the different stations, it took us about 3 hours to complete the walk.
This walk is real fun and easy feasible with kids: we absolutely recommend this walk as family activity.
The local mountain of Beatenberg is the Niederhorn, alt. 1934 m which offers splendid views onto the Justital on one side and the panorama of the alps on the other side.
There's a big variety of hiking trails to do (different in length and difficulty) and Niederhorn is also renowned for its natural inhabitants such as marmots, deers, cuckoo and ibex.
We had planed to do the ascent from the Beatenberg station to the summit by cable car and the descent by walk, but on the last days of our stay on which we intended to go, weather on the summit was always foggy and misty, so that we decided not to go.
You can also do a descent from Vorsass (alt.1580m) to Beatenberg station by trotti bike, or rent a bike in the local Intersport shop Grossniklaus.
Exploring Niederhorn is definitely on our to do list for our next visit in Beatenberg.
Gasthaus Riedboden - our favorite place to eat
. . . and the winner is:
We went there for dinner twice, and unfortunately it was fully booked on our last evenig, otherwise we would have made it three.
I won't talk to much: great food, great staff, great prices, little playground, bunnies, great view . . . .what more to say ?
You absolutely have to go there and you'll be delighted.
The owners Brigitte and Markus Jaun take a great interest in their guests, and leave their beloved kitchen on each service to enquire personally on each table about their guests well-being.
They do also have standard rooms, family rooms and even group accommodation for up to 10 p. per room.
Please give it a try!
Let's take a swim in the lake !
The water looks so fresh and clean in both lakes, that we couldn't resist and went for a swim on several occasions.
The first spot we found is located on the street along the border of lake Thun not far beyond the camping in Neuhaus/Unterseen. It's a small parking place with free access to the lake of Thun.
There are many places accessible on the lake, but unfortunately only very few with free parking plots.
If you don't want to go on a hunt for the perfect spot, but are looking for a more reliable place, you can relax and enjoy many lidos on the deep blue lake, please find some references here.
We were told we'd better go for a swim at the lake of Thun as the lake of Brienz was renown to be colder as it is the deepest lake of Switzerland with much glacier water.
Fortunately weather was really good during our stay (20 to 32°c) we also went to swim and play in the lake of Brienz and didn't notice much of a difference.
There is a great water playground on the shores of lake Brienz on the promenade in Brienz which our kids loved as well as some places with free access to the lake.
More on our holiday in Switzerland to follow soon . . . . stay tuned fort part II
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