During our fall break, we went to Meiringen in the Bernese Oberland — a place we’d been wanting to visit for a while. Located beyond Interlaken, at the other end of the Lake of Brienz, it’s a renowned destination for both skiing and hiking. It’s also famous as the place where Sherlock Holmes met his (temporary) death at the Reichenbach Falls, a literary connection I was curious to explore. A planned trip in February had to be canceled because of weather, so I was glad when this time it finally worked out.
Having left our room bookings till the last minute, reasonably priced options were few. I booked a room at a hostel in nearby Brünig, which was acceptable but nothing special. Our room had barely space for three beds, and the common rooms were crowded and a bit grimy. Cooking facilities are usually the bonus I’ll pay extra for, but the ones here were hardly usable. The natural surroundings and proximity to hiking trails were the best features.
Fortunately, clear, dry weather meant we could be outdoors a lot. The next morning, we set off to walk the Hasliberg Panorama trail, a three-hour trek through the woods, villages and fields above Meiringen. It was spectacular!
The trail ended at a gondola we could take down to Meiringen, in preference to walking another hour. Then, in my eagerness to use every minute of our trip to the utmost, we proceeded across the valley to where a train leads up to the Reichenbach Falls, except it had just stopped running for the season.
We started to walk up instead, but our energy was flagging, and when we met another hiker coming down who told us there was no water in the falls, we turned back.
Another time, we’ll see if we can catch the Falls when they are actually flowing. At least I could have my picture taken with the statue of Sherlock Holmes that stands outside the museum in the village.
I did not go into the museum, which looked a bit cheesy, with a large photo of Benedict Cumberbatch the focal point at the entry. Save that for a rainy day. Instead, we wandered around the village, where as well as plenty of bland apartment blocks and hotels there are some lovely old houses and gardens.
There is also a large church, currently under renovation, and a clock tower with a painting of Saint Christopher, though the church is dedicated to St. Michael — I wonder what the story is behind that.
Underneath the church, excavations are being done that uncover some of the buried past incarnations of the church, dating back to the 11th century. Repeated floodings that filled the church with rubble did not daunt the valley inhabitants, who kept digging out, rebuilding, and expanding.
After another night at the hostel, in the morning we headed for a short hike at another waterfall, the Alpbachschlucht. There was water in this one, though not much … it’s been a long dry spell.
Now it was almost noon — reasonably priced food options had been few and unsatisfying in Meiringen, so we decided to head to Thun for lunch on the way home. We had a good meal there, sitting in a lovely terrace by the Aare river.
And then it was time to head home. There were still about a million things we would have liked to do, but now we have a better idea of what to expect and can make plans for another visit.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these few glimpses of a very special place!