After freezing out in the snow for the greater part of the morning to capture the image of the year (in my mind), I began to wish for some hot chocolate and the warmth of a fireplace. Nevertheless we (my cousin and I) waited out in the cold for a bit longer to see if the light would get better. It did not.
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Wengen is one of the most beautiful towns in the world as I reiterate this for the 100th time on this blog. That view of Lauterbrunnen is nigh impossible to beat and almost every point in town with some level of a clearing has a view of the valley.
The town’s cathedral with its frozen trees is a pleasure to see in the pre-dawn hours and morning light.
We decided to swing by our favorite bakery in town, Bäckerei Vincenz for one of their delectable almond croissants if you are in town you should swing by and get one. The croissant was as good as I remembered, but the hot chocolate was an absolute bust. It was pretty much a packet of cocoa powder and some milk (you make the hot chocolate yourself).
Anyway, getting back to the point. We were enjoying the warmth of the cafe and some well needed sustenance, when we started conversing with the barista from whom we learned that the winter games were happening in Wengen that very same day. Another hiker who was also in the area started chatting with us over breakfast about an air show which would happen a little ways up the mountain and how we should photograph it.
We really had no plans for the day, so we started hiking up to Wengernalp to get a view of the air show. Though our new friend and my cousin were making progress up the mountain quickly, I was falling behind because of the amount of photography equipment I was carrying. I of course used my photography to cover up my huffing and puffing.
Given the slow progress, we were only halfway up the mountain when we heard a loud roar of jet engines from behind the mountains. We looked up and saw an Airbus A320 and a few red fighter jets flying overhead, low over the mountains in the valley.
I dropped my bag in the snow and swung my camera out and started taking pictures like a madman. It was quite the show with the airplanes making smoke outlines in the sky.
You can actually see a video from the cockpit of the plane here. The sight is certainly something to see.
We parted ways with our new friend at this point (he needed to meet his friends soon) and completely focused our attention on snapping as many shots of the airplanes as possible. I was absolutely ecstatic to arrive at these shots so unexpectedly. Swiss livery with its minimalist red writing and signatory red cross on the tail, flying over snow capped peaks, has been a bucket list shot of mine. So I’m not kidding when I say this was one of my photography dreams fulfilled:
After the awesome 30 minute airshow, we continued on up the mountain in hopes that there were still some photographic opportunities before the games ended. The hike up to Wengeralp is a lovely 1.5 hour hike on a paved trail with some amazing views of the town of Wengen in the distance. If you are ever in the area, a midway station called “Allemend” is the perfect place to hop off and enjoy this view of Wengen:
I highly recommend going on this hike during any season of the year. If you aren’t fond of the inclines, you can always take the train up to Kleine Scheidegg or Wengeralp and do the hike all downhill.
While our initial plan was to continue the hike all the way to Wengeralp, our slow progress encouraged us to ride the train for the last bit of the trail. Boy are we glad that we got on the train because there were an incredible number of people (thousands) on the slopes of the mountain near Wengeralp. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many people anywhere in Switzerland for that matter (you can see that bit in the video I posted earlier).
Seeing the incredible crowds at Wengeralp we pushed on to the next station: Kleine Scheidegg where we planned on hanging out until sundown.
While hanging around at Kleine Scheidegg, we noticed that the train schedule was abbreviated for the winter. It would mean that we wouldn’t make it to sunset unless we wanted to hike back to Wengen in the cold for a couple of hours.
Already tired from our early morning start, we decided to call it a day and headed back to our Airbnb in Interlaken.
We did take a few shots along the way, but most of it was spent waiting in line to get on the train. It turned out that everyone wanted to go home at the same time because the winter games were over at this point.
My visits to Switzerland (more specifically the Jungfrau region) have never ceased to surprise me. The shots I got on this one day were some of my favorites ever and I’m glad I got the chance to see this beautiful area of the world before we got locked down to our homes. If you are ever in Switzerland in January, make sure to check out the Lauberhorn games.
I kind of wonder how much this event ended up spreading the virus in Switzerland, given the number of people who attended. Then again the virus didn’t quite take hold of Europe just yet. I’m sort of glad that we didn’t join the crowd on the mountain though for whatever it is worth.
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