After leaving Gimmelwald, I stayed a night in Bacharach (where I posted pictures of my dinner view earlier), and then took the river cruise (included in my Eurail pass) up the Rhine—the place of legends. Wagner’s famous Ring Cycle comes from legends about the Rhine River.
It was honestly quite surreal to be in the middle of reading Game of Thrones, and to be on this river, seeing all these magnificent ruins and castles-turned-hotels. It made the absorbing book seem all the more believable and visual.
Also, the random rocky bluff is the famous Lorelei rock.
PIctures really do this place absolutely no justice.
You need to put this on the short list of places to see before you die, because it’s just perfect.
Trummelbach Falls— one river, ten underground waterfalls.
My second day in Gimmelwald I hiked the 2.5 hour, -1500’ elevation change to Trümmelbach Falls. Here are a very small selection of the water falls I came across, as well as pictures of various parts of the hike—I hiked gravel pathways between the village houses to deep forests to farmlands (some of the animal photos in the previous post are from this hike), and on the main road on the valley floor.
If you look at the third-to-last photo, you’ll see just how high up I was—after being about halfway done with the hike!
Needless to say, I took the gondola back up.
“And how did you hear about Gimmelwald?”
Most locals, I learned, think that you are only mispronouncing Grindlewald, which is apparently a very popular resort town nearby. This proved problematic, as I would look at the train/bus/gondola ticket, exclaim “oh no!” and have to stall the line so they could fix it.
The reason is because, even after Rick Steves wrote of his love of the mountain village, it holds few tourists attentions because, unlike it’s upper and lower neighbors that have “sold out” to the tourism industry, Gimmelwald remains what it’s been for years: a village with a hostel, a pension, and two bed and breakfasts. The rest is farmland, where the chickens come right up to the windows of the pension, and where you pass goats and cheese houses anytime you want to leave your room.
In other words, it was the perfect vacation from the [almost entirely Asian] tourist groups. It was an opportunity to purge the weariness from my bones and to simply reconnect to nature, the universe, and myself in a way that I have been unable to do in months and months. When I have to “go to my happy place” and “find my inner calm,” Gimmelwald will be what I see in my mind’s eye.
Getting to Gimmelwald
It took 3 trains before I was able to lay eyes on where my home for the next few days would be, so I thought that delirium had set in when the train rounded the corner and I saw the part of the valley that would be my home for the next few days. I rubbed my eyes, and fought back tears (I kid you not) as the beauty of the region hit me. I knew then why locals and tourists alike say “if heaven isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, send me to Gimmelwald.” This was Sangri la. This was the land of the elves. This was heaven on earth.
Getting off the train, I transferred onto the local bus, exchanging polite conversation with the locals (locals!) before I feel silent in awe as the bus passed an enormous waterfall far too quickly for my liking. My heart yearned for the bus to pull in closer, and when it didn’t, I vowed to come back for another view as I boarded the gondola to take me up 1500 feet. What I didn’t expect was for that very gondola to not only give me a glimpse of that waterfall, but to pass within meters of it.
As I walked off the gondola with only withered old lady as company (the rest of the people continued up to the tourist town of Mürren), I couldn’t believe my eyes. Here I was, halfway up the mountain, where the villages below seemed like little lego bricks, and the mountains still towered above me.
Every time I sat, I would look up and still be startled into awe at the mountains across and above from me. I watched hang gliders flying beneath me, and clouds roll in at eyelevel. I traced waterfalls from where they fell into the valley, up past the rainbows that danced around their spray, to the very glaciers that formed them on the eternal snow-capped peaks. Every time I looked, there would be more. More waterfalls than I found the last time. More snow. More peaks. More birds. More Clouds. More Airspace. Some say that the mountains are stoic, standing as they have always stood for millennia, but those people have surely never stared at a mountain in the way that these Alps captivated my eye.