Destination Wengen, Switzerland
Categories Family, Singles, Over 50's 
Length of Stay 4 Days
Airline British Airways
Travelogue
"My name's Burns, Brian Burns". I handed the Gatwick attendant my boarding pass, took my seat aboard a scheduled flight to Zurich and soon arrived safely across the Swiss border. A car was ready and waiting - I jumped in and was driven to Lauterbrunnen where I caught the mountain train to Wengen. This time I'd not come to ski. It was a mission to bring back photographs...

Well, maybe it sounds a bit far-fetched but I did fly out at the last minute with my brother-in-law, took a hire car to Lauterbrunnen via Interlaken and enjoyed the run on the mountain train. I should add that my brother-in-law is very much into skiing, whereas I’m into scenery and hence the 'photography'. I'd also like to point out that the hire car was returned in one piece.

Wengen could well be termed as a holiday destination for all seasons with its magnificent scenery amid towering mountains and alpine valleys. We had the pleasure of spending a week at this alpine resort in February when the snow was 'crisp and even'.

The resort is car-free and is really just a village by our standards, although it does sport a cinema. Fortunately it is at a high altitude and therefore is unlikely to have a shortage of the ‘white stuff’. In fact, if ever you wish to experience living in Christmas card surroundings you couldn’t go wrong by finding accommodation in this area. The scenery is just stunning!

The town of Wengen is spread out on a plateau with what only can be described as a sloping hill in the centre that give rise to ‘nursery slopes’ for children and novice skiers alike. We couldn’t help but notice the ability of the youngsters on their short skis; a bit intimidating to the novice adults I can tell you, although they have the advantage of not having far to fall!

Many hotels and other buildings take on the form of your typical Swiss chalets, be it on a larger scale, flanked by magnificent snow covered mountains. Seeing the sun rise causing the snow to sparkle with a pink glow is something special…….. did someone say 'awesome' ?.

Wengen gives you central access via the mountain railway system to the many small alpine villages that abound in this alpine area.
There are plenty of places to eat and drink, although the hotels should not be forgotten as they also put on a good spread, and together with a good range of shops it makes for an ideal base.

Heading onwards and upwards on the small mountain train from Wengen, you soon realise how high you are when you observe that the banking of snow along side the track is higher than the train in places. Eventually, after the small engine hauls you up the mountain you arrive at Kliene Scheidegg, the highest resort served by a rack-railway in Europe. This is where all the serious skiers tend to congregate, particularly as there is an excellent eatery on hand serving piping hot food to restore the energy required for the ski runs.

From here you can board another mountain train up to the Jungfrau with its outstanding views and ice palace cut into the glacier. It really is a superb trip and one you’ll never forget. You are bound to be aware of the altitude, some 13,700 feet, where the air is a bit on the thin side, so no running around! You can also continue on the mountain train from Kl. Scheidegg down to the town of Grindelwald. It was while we were there that we observed the para-gliders floating through the mountains under a clear blue sky with their colourful chutes; my camera never stopped clicking!

Another resort nearby, which is also car-free, is the village of Murren with its many Swiss chalets dotted up the hills. It's a real picture of a place, with a photo' around every corner. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the snow so thickly piled up on the roofs as it must have been at least a foot deep, with long icicles hanging down at the eves. I can’t help thinking that Kodak must make a fortune from such locations !

The trip up to Murren on the mountain train is a beautiful ride with stunning views and is a must. If you take the cable car from Murren you reach Schilthorn observation point, 10,000 feet, where more magnificent views are to be had. As you climb you are passing over skiers far below in their colourful jump-suits looking the size of ants…it really is a great ride. It was at this cable car station that the snow scenes featured in the James Bond film "On Her Majesty’s Secret Service" were shot. There is a solar powered restaurant that turns 360 degrees during the course of an hour giving you panoramic views for miles around. Yes, meals take some time to get through with all this distraction on hand!

So you've got brilliant scenery, fantastic weather, skiing opportunities for all ages and a place where the film stars have been. In all the holiday was a great success and I shall jetting off on another mission very soon. "Now Moneypenny, where are those tickets to ..."

 

Travel As this was a short holiday taken on ‘the spur of the moment’, we simply rang the hotel for the booking, flew from Gatwick on schedule BA aircraft to Zurich and picked up a car and drove to Lauterbrunnen via Interlaken where we parked and then caught the mountain train to Wengen.

I’m sure there is a ‘holiday package’ out there somewhere that would simplify things and no doubt save you some money into the bargain but last minute breaks of this kind tend to be hard to find, unless of course you keep to the main-stream holidays, such as ‘City Breaks’ etc.

Accommodation We stayed at the Beausite Park Hotel, Wengen. It's ideally placed just north of the town. I doubt if we could have done much better as the standard of food and accommodation was great. There are rooms for every taste - singles, twins, junior suites, suites and family apartments and facilities that include an indoor swimming pool, sauna, solarium, garden and sun terrace.
They have a web site that may interest you: www.parkwengen.ch
E-Mail address : hotel@parkwengen.ch Fax : 0041 (0) 33 855 30 10
Telephone : 0041 (0) 33 856 51 61

You can book this hotel as part of a package from Inghams, Kuoni or Brigde Travel.

Fab Tips 1) If you are planning a number of trips using the mountain railway system, be sure to obtain a weekly pass that permits you to travel virtually everywhere on these trains as many times as you wish during a week. It will save you a fortune, apart from the convenience. You will need to have a couple of photos of yourself (passport size) as this will be appended to your pass. Should you have forgotten the photos all is not lost as there is (very conveniently) a photographers next to the station who will help you out, providing of course, you ‘cross his hand with silver’…….. 2) If photography is your passion you'll need a "skylight filter" or an 81B filter to avoid the snow appearing blue. Snow causes a high level of reflection and your camera meter will underexpose your film resulting in objects appearing dark. Try altering camera settings and overexpose by one or two stops to compensate.

2003 Fabulous Holidays