Subject: Berner Oberland region and Switzerland
In early July 2002, my brother and I had a great time staying in Gimmelwald (at the famed Mountain Hostel). At 60 years of age, I was definitely the oldest person there! The hostel featured an international guest list, friendly staff, and there was plenty of hot water (you pay for how many minutes you want to shower). Except for a small tractor or two, there are no vehicles in Gimmelwald.

I also stayed for a few nights in Mürren. I was walking around the town and I spotted a sign for a "Zimmer Frei" (available room) with a communal kitchen to share. . . in this case with a young couple who just happened to be from my hometown in California. From my bed I had a view of the spectacular peaks--the Monk, the Monster, and the Maiden (Eiger, Monch, and the Jungfrau). The full moon shone off the snow covered peaks and it was so beautiful I could hardly get to sleep. As guests, we were given "tickets" for free or reduced entrance fee (can't remember) to the indoor pool at the town sports hall. Wonderful.

To save money and have fun hiking, my brother and I rode up on various Sail-Bahns on either side of the valley and simply walked down. It was gorgeous. Out on the trails, we could hear ice falling from glaciers across the valley.

There was good signage on the trails. If you're going to be out most of the day, wear good walking shoes or hiking boots, and bring a hat, a sweater and a waterproof jacket. Food and drink don't seem to be a problem as many trails begin and end in a Beer Garden or Gasthaus.

It is great to stay in Gimmelwald. Near the village, people were "making hay" on the steep hillsides and out on the trails the flowers were in bloom. If you want more "services" or shops, it is an easy and a scenic ride up by Sail-Bahn to Mürren; afterwards go "home" by simply walking back down to Gimmelwald.

The end of August 2004, my husband (Jim) and I went by train to Bern, Interlaken, Mürren and Gimmelwald.

We stayed in Bern for 3 nights and loved it. Bern is a wonderful city in a picturesque setting next to a winding river. We stayed in the old town and walked or took a tram to the major sights. Rainy weather is not a problem in the old town as gracefully "arched" arcades line the cobblestone streets.

Jim had not been to Switzerland and he loved it. In Mürren we hiked around and laid in the meadows in the sunshine. The first night we stayed in luxury at the hospitable Eidelweiss Hotel in Mürren. The next morning, we went to the tourist office in town (by tennis courts and indoor swimming pool) and stayed in a cosy, inexpensive "in-law apartment" adjoining a family home. Our host and hostess were very friendly.

Please note: It is always best to email or telephone tourist offices in advance. I like to talk directly to the staff and they usually can find something in my price range. This was a "spare of the moment" trip and we took our chances -- and were lucky.

We had missed the meadow flowers, but all flowers were still in bloom in window boxes and gardens around town! We cooked our own food. We walked down to Gimmelwald and noticed that the Mountain Hostel is improved with landscaping and cobblestone driveway and a paved side courtyard.

The weather in the high mountains was cold, but clear and we went up to Piz Gloria and STAYED up there for 4 hours (because the weather was so clear).

Best regards AND happy travels, Jane in Stuttgart, Germany