A Travellerspoint blog

Searching for Elves

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

overcast 14 °C

You get lazy when you become used to the road and new destinations as a lifestyle. Places that you would usually break bones to visit can be easily written off as ho-hum; you're travel weary and your capacity for wonder is stretched thin. But there are spots so incredible that they snap you out of this stupor, make you want to walk until your soles blister, your eyes water from a definite mission to capture, to take in. You tell yourself that you have to cherish every second you're in this place. Lauterbrunnen, and the Swiss alps in general, fall into this category. I feel like I would need to transform into an epic author to do justice to this area, but luckily one already did so for me. JRR Tolkien stepped up to the plate and immortalised this place in print:

"Such was the virtue of the land of Rivendell that soon all fear and anxiety was lifted from their minds. The future, good or ill, was not forgotten, but ceased to have any power over the present. Health and hope grew strong in them, and they were content with each good day as it came, taking pleasure in every meal, and in every word and song".

Despite the obvious romanticism of this passage, you can honestly believe that Elves would choose to live in Lauterbrunnen. Tolkien visited the valley in 1911 and used its sweeping mountains and cascading waterfalls as inspiration for Rivendell in his Lord of the Rings novels.

Apart from searching for Orlando Bloom during the valley's myriad of gorgeous hikes, the area that surrounds Lauterbrunnen is famous for outdoor adventure sports. You can barely glance up without seeing a base jumper diving headfirst for a halo. More level-headed tourists opt for paragliding or in our case, a high ropes course (didn't even fall off or throw up).

Otherwise, the more idyllic attractions of Lauterbrunnen spoke to my soul. We spent a perfect day following the hiking trails after taking the funicular to Grindelwald, basking in the glorious snow-capped sight of the Jungfrauköch, the highest point in all of Europe.

After filling our lungs with fresh air and falling in love with the local cows, we would return at night to our campsite, snuggled deep in the valley and overshadowed by a seemingly infinite waterfall. There is nothing so peaceful as waking up to the sound of running streams and fresh dew on emerald fields, even if I was half-delirious with altitude sickness the entire time.

I wish I had the gusto or skill to properly describe this area to you all, but I somewhat quail at the task of verbally illustrating its beauty. Even my photos seem like cheap imitations to me. There are places that you feel rather than see, and the best way I can express the solemn majesty of Lauterbrunnen is to share that when I can't sleep at night because of the stresses and structures of city life, I picture myself wandering down this valley. That sensation of calm, of quiet awe, sends me off to sleep without fail.

Posted by gpontour 21:13 Archived in Switzerland

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