Bernese Alps Hidden Gems
What does the most famous detective in the world Sherlock Holmes have in common with sweet egg-white meringues?
The answer is a small town in the fairy-tale Bernese Oberland - Meiringen. The airy whipped eggs and sugar based dessert was invented here in the 18th century. Almost two centuries later, while travelling around Switzerland, Arthur Conan Doyle picked the local Reichenbach falls to plunge Sherlock Holmes to his death. Magical Meiringen is a great base to explore several silver-screen perfect places in the area...
The first must-see wonder of nature here is the Aare Gorge. Consistent limestone blocks in the region remained compact and unbroken during formation of the Alps 15 million years back. Then, around 15,000 years ago, melting water from multiple glaciers carved several gorges, the best preserved of which is the Aare Gorge. The mind-blowing stroll along the 1,400 meters long, 50 meters high Aare gorge takes about an hour. Just one meter wide at its narrowest point, the gorge reaches 40 meters at its widest place, with gurgles of vibrant water speeding by you at two meters per second. Your visit feels almost surreal, as you step into a mystic fairy tale of bygone cliffs, rocky arcades, and babbling streams. The gorge has been open to the public for 125 years and, thanks to visionaries of the time, is easily enjoyed from meticulously built wooden walkways and narrow tunnels. It is a short walk from Meiringen train station.
This spectacular nature adventure is reachable either by car or a 30-minute bus ride from Meiringen train station. The Rosenlaui Gorge is located literally in the middle of beautiful Alpine-nowhere; the surrounding nature is very pure. The tremulous waterfall, steaming cataracts, and rocky passages are hidden deep in a wild mountainous landscape. As you exit the gorge into a charming meadow in a dreamy pine forest, a surprise awaits you. The meadow is teeming with hundreds of man-built pebble towers of all heights and shapes. How about embracing your inner child and constructing a pebble tower or two?
The steepest funicular in Europe was originally built to transport construction materials but is now open to nature lovers. It whisks you up 1,860m above sea level to enjoy a spectacular scenic hike around the turquoise lake. Gelmer Funicular is 30 minutes from Meiringen. Bus stop: Handegg, Gelmerbahn.
In Meiringen itself, the historic Reichenbach funicular takes you to the waterfalls viewing platform, where the infamous detective met his end. Other Sherlock Holmes marks in town include a one-room Sherlock Holmes museum in the basement of the local Anglican Church, a life-size statue of the detective, and ‘221B Baker Street’ and ‘Conan Doyle Place’ street signs. If you decide to stay in the area overnight, Sherlock Holmes Hotel offers cozy reasonably priced rooms with balconies overlooking the Reichenbach falls and a small swimming pool with impressive mountain views on the top floor.
Have fun following the traces of Sherlock Holmes, marvelous desserts, and breathtaking water torrents!
Marina Moeller is a freelance journalist, who grew up around the world. She earned four university degrees - in economics, French poetry, accounting, and journalism - and worked in the US, England, Italy, and Germany before finally settling down in Zurich. Marina is very passionate about Italian art, culture, and Venetian glass. She represents one of the top Italian glass companies in Switzerland - Arte di Murano - and would be delighted to advise you on their beautiful products! Contact Marina at firstname.lastname@example.org.