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Summer 2008 -- Kristin and the Bernese Oberland


Rosenlaui -- Alpine walks and good food

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Kristin has a way of finding the perfect places, usually on the Web, but this time in the Marcia and Philip Lieberman book, Switzerland's Mountain Inns: a walking vacation in a world apart (Countryman Press, 1998).

An inn was first built on this spot in 1795 to capitalize on mineral springs found here some years earlier; it burnt down in 1860, according to the Liebermans, and was rebuilt in 1863. The berghotel seen here was built in the grand Victorian style in 1904, but the mineral springs have long since disappeared under a landslide. The 1863 building is still there alongside the main one and apparently serves as a youth hostel.

We're about two and a half hours from home in the Geneva area, by motorway via Yverdon and Berne to Interlaken and good roads to Meiringen, and then up a windy, narrow little afterthought into the Rosenlaui valley to our place of repose for four days of forgetting about everything else.

Kristin, pleased to be here and forgetting about everything else.

The Kehrli family took over the inn in 1960, and the second generation of Kehrlis, Andreas and Christine, have carefully restored much of the Victorian grandeur that makes this berghotel probably unique.

The postal bus up from Meiringen brings legions of Swiss Germans up to Rosenlaui (1328m altitude) on fine days, and continues as far as Schwarzwaldalp (a bit further up the Rosenlauital at 1456m). There you're handed off to a narrower bus for the last pitch up to the pass at Grosse Scheidegg (1962m) and thence down the other side, if you want to, to the famous village/resort of Grindelwald facing the Eiger Nordwand.

The diningroom prepared for Saturday night, a little too cloistered and glasswarey for my pub tastes, and we were glad, after the first night, to dine in the café-style restaurant rooms downstairs for the rest of our stay. There's a fascinating lunch and snack menu for the daytimes (when we were off on our walks) -- the evening meal is a (low-cost) pension fixed menu, but it's varied daily and very well presented: an excellent soup, an entrée, a main dish, and dessert, if I found it delightfully tasty but just short of sufficient in quantity, that's probably my fault.

Our room, a superb corner room. As the Rosenlaui Web site rightly notes, this is a welcome escape from the busy trappings of the 21st century, like WiFi in the rooms, or running water.

The view from our room -- up the hill a ways is the Gletscherschlucht, a walk back into a deep glacier-formed ravine that was first commercialized in 1903, when the present hotel was built, and significantly improved for safety in the 1980s.

From our room, the congenial terrace and the roadway, which also serves as a crowded mountain-bike course on fine days.

If the bathrooms are not en suite, the men's room was just across the hall and has a sort of Spartan elegance.

The ladies' room, however, has artwork on the walls.

One of the first-floor salons or parlors, very well restored and functioning now also as a kind of mini-museum of local alpine lore.

The main parlor, outside the first floor diningroom

Another parlor

Inexplicable art on the walls, which is at least very Victorian.

The older Rosenlaui building and the terrace -- we're going exploring round the back to pass the time till dinner.

A mean little gorge adjacent to the hotel -- this cost us, the next day, half an hour, when we really really wanted to hike straight down to the hotel from the mountains above and had to trudge all the way round to the front entrance by a circuitous route.

The wet bounty of glacial runoff (in its last years)

That's our hostess hurrying from pillar to post.

A quick look-in at the Gletscherschlucht -- we'll come back in a few days and do the seven-franc tour.

A good view of the berghotel from the Gletscherschlucht.

And now we're in for dinner, and another look round the salons. A chessboard inlayed into the table, very cool, with fruit on top of it.

Something else inlayed into this table -- if that's a game, too, I'm not up to it. Go was more than enough for me.

As evening of our first day draws on, we finish up in the bar and retire to read Thomas Frank's great-fun new book, The Wrecking Crew: how conservatives rule (Metropolitan Books, 2008) and God is a Bullet (Pan, 1999), and the International Herald Tribune, it goes without saying.

The next morning, bright and early -- well, bright -- we're off for a good day's walk on the mountains high above us, and we're just waiting for the postal bus to come along and help us out with the "high above us" part of it.

And now we're off -- a big 7 or 8 hour loop and back down for dinner, spinning the weather-prayer-wheel as we ride along up the hill.

Links: Rosenlaui hotel, Rosenlautal tourism

Kristin and the Bernese Oberland
Sonnenberg hotel, Mürren
Rotstockhütte hike
Grütschalp hike
Rosenlaui berghotel
Grindelfeld hike
First/Grindelwald hike
Rosenlaui Gletscherschlucht
Grimselpass


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 24 August 2008, revised 1 October 2012.


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