Switzerland, Day 4: Mountains, Marmots & Excessive Train Travel

Pack up all my stuff, quickly eat breakfast, race to the train station to begin my day: I was certainly getting into a routine in Switzerland.

I used a locker at the train station in Montreux to store my backpack and took a tiny day pack with me up to Rochers de Naye. I could try to use my words to explain the beauty I saw up in the mountains on this day, but I think it might be easier to just show you. Suffice it to say, I actually gasped wow out loud on the train as we went up, up, up…the landscape thrilled me and I felt more excited about a day hike than I have since before I attempted the Pacific Crest Trail.

Cowbells served as the soundtrack for the day, as I tromped around the hiking paths on my own and marveled at our Earth. Everything was excessively green, excessively grand, and totally fucking gorgeous. The site got busier as the day went on, but I miraculously managed to hike almost entirely solo for the whole day. I did encounter a sweet family having a picnic at one of the highest peaks (the parents had two toddlers with them and it was super inspirational) and a marmot hut, which was very weird. The site billed it as a “marmot exhibit” but I couldn’t figure out if the lil’ babes were free or caged and mostly it made me kind of nervous and sad. The marmots were super cute though, as they always are.

The day felt perfect and I was in a very good mood by the end of it, but I also felt very tired and worn out and worried that I was probably getting sick. I took the train back down to Montreux, collected my bag from the locker, and started on the long trek to Lauterbrunnen. I had to take three separate trains there and by the end I no longer felt so enchanted by Switzerland’s landscape, though it remained beautiful — I was just way too tired and honestly starting to feel quite ill.

Unfortunately for me, I sat with a Swiss woman on the longest of the three train rides who was very chatty. It figures, the one time I’m not looking to make friends with my train companion, she wants to be besties. The woman’s name was Vensa and she had a lot of thoughts about travelers from the United States. Everyone I encounter here wants to tell me Donald Trump is awful (I know) and wants to ask if Americans are as bad at geography as they’ve heard (I mean…I don’t know?). Vensa wanted to know why I wasn’t couchsurfing, why I chose to travel in Switzerland, and what I thought of tourists in general. No matter what I said I felt as though it was the wrong answer, and by the time I had to get off the train I was very grateful indeed.

Staubbach Waterfall greeted me when the train finally pulled into Lauterbrunnen. I’d heard that some of the town’s 72 (!!) waterfalls were very visible directly from the train station, and that was accurate. I think as someone who has lived both in cities and in the country and who seeks out “nature” as a respite from city life, it caught me off guard to see “city life” and “nature” melded so seamlessly in Switzerland. I almost didn’t know what to make of it.

Everyone I spoke to about visiting Switzerland absolutely raved about Lauterbrunnen, but my first impression of the town wasn’t great. I didn’t like my hostel very much and was put off by the intense Tourist Bro vibes I felt emanating from almost everyone in town.

The grocery store closed before I was able to pick up anything for dinner, so I took myself on a short walk to a restaurant tucked away by a little campsite, feeling quite sorry for myself. I ended up having the MOST delicious meal called Rosti — it’s a typical Swiss dish that is basically a potato fritter with a whole huge slice of melted cheese on top. I got mine with eggs and bacon too. It was perfection.

I seemed to be surrounded by couples at the restaurant, and as I ate I eavesdropped on some of their conversations. It made me feel kind of lonely; I missed Alley and I didn’t feel good.

I don’t know if it was the grey weather, the bro vibes, the fact that I felt sick, or all of the above, but I did not feel very well disposed to Lauterbrunnen by the time it was time for bed, delicious dinner notwithstanding. I put myself to bed at 9pm, hoping that a lot of sleep would heal my body and my attitude.

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