September 3, 2017 – 2 Paris Metros. 5 trains. 1 Gondola. 1 Cogwheel train. 1 golf cart.
THAT is how we eventually got to Mürren. Sit back, this is going to get bumpy.
Our day started with waking up at 4:45am in Paris. Our first train was at 6:40am, so we needed to make sure we could catch the metro and get there in time. It was our first time using our Eurail pass (review on that coming soon) so we weren’t quite sure how it worked yet.
We arrived at the Paris Est train station with plenty of time. Once our train had its platform we walked over hoping there would be someone there to point us in the right direction. We found an attendant who then told us our train had been moved. What?! We were now on a train an hour later. Our very first train of the day was going to mess up the rest of our entire journey.
Our initial reaction was panic. We ran over to an info desk to ask what we were supposed to do. Neither of us have ever done much train travel so we were lost. Luckily the guy was nice and helpful. He told us not to worry that someone would be around shortly to explain what we needed to do. About 10 minutes later, an attendant came by with new tickets for us for the new train. So we were good for this one, but what about the next 4 trains?! Luckily we only had one other train that we were stuck with the time. The others we could just hop on without a reservation.
So we started researching new trains. We found one from Strasbourg to Basel and from Basel to Lucerne that would get us in with just enough time to get on our reserved train from Lucerne to Interlaken. Our original plan was to put our bags in lockers and explore Lucerne for a couple hours, but that was now out the window.
We boarded our new train around 7:30am. The train ride from Paris to Strasbourg was beautiful! It was cool to see the countryside where my family came from originally. I’d love to go back one day and explore those tiny towns.
Once we got to Strasbourg, we had to wait a little over an hour for the next train since we had missed the earlier one. The Strasbourg train station is gorgeous! We even peeked outside for a minute.
Our train finally arrived so we quickly got on and relaxed for an hour until we reached Basel.
Our 8 minute connection in Basel was going to be tight and we had heard that the trains in Switzerland are always on time. We obviously had no clue how big the Basel train station was but we were just going to make a run for it. So we got off the train and walked/ran with the crowds. Turns out, the Basel train station was under construction! Oh and the trains coming from other countries arrive in completely different areas than the regional Swiss trains. So we had to go outside of the station, down a street, then back in to the front of the station to the regional train platforms. We ran as fast as we could with those heavy packs on. We got to the platform with just enough time to see our train leave the station without us. One minute too late. We were exhausted and defeated.
We quickly looked up the next train to Lucerne. We had the option of getting on a train with one stop, but would get us there faster, with 1 hr 15 min of time in Lucerne. Or a direct train that would give us only 45 minutes in Lucerne. With the day we had been having, we went with direct.
Once our train pulled in to Lucerne, we were still determined to see some of it. We kept our packs on and wandered out of the station. Luckily, most of the main stuff was right outside the station so we made a beeline to the famous covered bridge. We basically told ourselves we had 20 minutes so we’d be certain not to miss our reserved train.
We arrived to the bridge, snapped a few pictures, then it was back to the train station.
Two American couples sat in the seats next to ours. They were really nice and we all talked about our travels.
This train was so awesome. The scenery was gorgeous. It was like a moving painting everywhere we went.
We finally made it to Interlaken! The train to Lauterbrunnen wasn’t for 2 hours, so we got off the train and put our bags in lockers for 7 francs.
We were in need of some food. We had brought some left over cheese and bread on the train from Paris, but we had to ditch the cheese in Basel because it stunk so bad! So we found a relatively inexpensive place to have a quick bite. It was actually inside a hostel. They had a bar where you could grab a beer and something to eat. We got a cheese board and 2, 5ml beers. It was around 20 francs and the cheese board was tiny!
As we were sitting outside we kept hearing music and seeing Swiss people dressed in traditional outfits. It wasn’t just a couple people here and there, they were everywhere! I guess they had some kind of local event going on. All of a sudden 6 guys with drums come marching down the sidewalk. It was so fun! I started recording them on my phone so they just encircled our table and stayed there for a solid minute. It was quite the welcome to Switzerland!
There weren’t very many people on the train with us, so we found a car all to ourselves. The ride up was beautiful. We were climbing in altitude basically the whole time so the mountains just got more and more impressive. When the lady came around to check our tickets, she quickly informed us we were sitting in first class. Oops. We had been in first class all day because we have the first class Eurail pass. This train was different and we had to buy tickets when we got there so they weren’t first class. The lady attendant was not amused.
Once we got to Lauterbrunnen, we got off and hopped in to a gondola which took us to Grutschalp. This was the first of many gondolas we’d take in Switzerland. This kind of made all the craziness from earlier in the day seem worth it. The view was incredible. Just the ride itself was so much fun!
The train had just pulled in to the Mürren station when my phone rang. It was Dimitri from our hotel! I knew him because I initially messed up our hotel booking and only booked a room for 1 person. He was so nice through email to help me fix my error and even nicer in person! He asked me what time we would be arriving and I told him he must be psychic because we had literally just pulled in to Mürren. He was delighted and said he would be more than happy to drive down to the station to pick us up. I immediately said yes. We had been carrying our heavy packs from train to train all day so I jumped at the chance for some relief. He said he would pick us up from the platform but I didn’t think that would be possible so we went to the main entrance. We were standing out there when a guy from another hotel shouted down “are you two looking for Dimitri?” I said yes and he said “oh I just saw him pull around back.” First, I felt dumb because he literally told me he would pick us up at the platform, but then I was just struck by the immediate charm of this little town. How that guy saw us standing in front of the station and knew exactly who we were looking for. I know it’s simple, but it made me happy and excited that we chose to stay there.
Dimitri pulled around and we loaded our bags in to his golf cart. Mürren is a car free town other than a few utility vehicles.
We made our way up the winding paths until we reached the lovely Hotel Jungfrau. I was so happy. Not only were we in such a beautiful place, but we made it. I really wasn’t sure if we would actually get there. Dimitri gave us the run down of the hotel, how breakfast worked, etc. and then we were off to find our room.
We unlocked the door and walked in to heaven. We had a corner room so we had a window looking on to the mountains on one side and a balcony with table and chairs on the other. I couldn’t believe the view we had. It looked fake! I heard the clanking of bells in the distance which I knew would be cows. There happened to be a cluster of them to the right of our hotel on a hill. So charming!
It took us 14 hours to reach Mürren from Paris. If we did it again, knowing what I know now, I think I would still do trains but maybe stop over in a city along the way to break it up. Although, I was glad to have the extra time in Mürren.