Postcards from Switzerland: Meiringen

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.

Hostel in the woods

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!

It was still warm enough to swim in this pond. Unfortunately I had not brought my swimsuit.
On the way down

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.

Not the Reichenbach Falls, though in the vicinity.

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.

Where should we go next, Sherlock?

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.

Traditional Haslital style wooden house

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.

Clock tower

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.

Ancient altar beneath the current church

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.

Viewpoint above Meiringen, looking across the valley toward Reichenbach gorge
Alpbach trickle
Looking down at Meiringen through the gorge — the pointed roof belongs to the church tower we visited earlier

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.

Surfer catching an artificial wave on the partially-dammed Aare
The placid other side of the dam
Glimpse of the iconic castle in Thun

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!

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20 thoughts on “Postcards from Switzerland: Meiringen

  1. I love your photos. I also had to look up where you were in the world though I guessed Switzerland. Those photos of mountains. Oh my! Have a wonderful time!

  2. Basic facilities in a Swiss hostel weren’t what you might’ve expected so I’m glad Nature itself made up for the primitivism with primal beauty! Good luck with your next visit to the Falls though. 🙂

    1. If we’d been stuck indoors it would have been worse, but we managed. I do want to see the Falls sometime.

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