BERNESE OBERLAND, SWITZERLAND: James Bond is known for his travels to many of the world’s most exotic destinations. This year marks the 50th anniversary of 007’s efforts to foil arch-enemy Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the Swiss Alps in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969).
It was George Lazenby’s first and only appearance as the British superhero, but it was the second of three visits Bond made to Switzerland over the history of the movie franchise.
James Bond – Goldfinger to Goldeneye
The first came in Goldfinger (1964) when Sean Connery as Bond used a GPS to track down Tilly Masterson through the Furka Pass. More than two decades later, Pierce Brosnan bungee jumped from the Verzasca Dam in the Ticino (the Italian speaking region of the country) in the opening sequence of Goldeneye.
It was Lazenby, however who spent the most cinematic frames in the Alpine nation and, in the process, he made the Schilthorn peak one of the best day trips a traveler can take in the country.
The Schilthorn rises just under 10,000 feet above the Lauterbrunnen Valley which is a spectacular stretch of real estate featuring over 70 waterfalls. Nestled in the Bernese Alps, the Schilthorn lies above the village of Mürren, where cable cars lead to the summit and the Piz Gloria restaurant offers a majestic panoramic view of the mountain peaks Titlis, Jungfrau, Mönch and the Eiger.
To reach the Schilthorn from the valley floor, you can take a series of four cable cars to the top. During the process, be sure to marvel at the precision timing of the system which allows minimal waiting to accomplish the various segments.
From Berg, the final leg to the summit, the airway was the most technically challenging cable car construction in history.
Begin in Interlaken by taking the Bernese Oberland Bahn (BOB) to the village of Lauterbrunnen about 25-minutes down the line. Go early, especially during high season, because trains can be crowded as the day progresses. Also, an early start promises more sightseeing time during the journey.
Upon arriving in Lauterbrunnen, cross the street and catch the cable car before changing to a miniature train which skims along the mountain ledge toward Murren.
It’s not uncommon to slow or stop along the way for a stray cow or sheep to make its way across the tracks.
At an altitude of nearly 5,500 feet, Murren is not accessible to the public by road. Stroll through town to reach the next portion of the adventure. The walk is relatively level, and there are plenty of places en route to rest and have something to eat or drink.
At the opposite end of the village, arrive at the cable airway to Birg, the Schilthorn and the Piz Gloria.
Piz Gloria, the panoramic, 360-degree revolving restaurant at the crest of the Schilthorn which takes roughly 50 minutes to complete a full rotation, was used as a set in the 1969 James Bond adventure.
When weather conditions are good, there’s no better top-of-the-world sensation than the span of mountaintops that chisel the sky around the Schilthorn.
The number “007” on the windows pays tribute to the British secret agent.
To enjoy the Schilthorn trip to the fullest, take a different route for the return.
Descend to Murren where another cable car floats gracefully over a dramatic cliff to the village of Stechelberg. When scattered, low hanging clouds hover through the Lauterbrunnen Valley, the sensation is almost like riding down from heaven.
As the car appears to plunge over the precipice of the last leg of the aerial journey, look to the left to witness the stunning view of Staubbach Fall, one of the highest cascades in Europe with an unbroken fall of between 800 and 900 feet.
This is perpendicular scenery at its finest where mountains adjoin mountains with rocky walls that dive into the valley below.
Flowing through the village of Lauterbrunnen is the Weisse Lütschine which typically overflows its banks once each year. Melting snow from high in the mountains provides the source of the water which eventually becomes another popular site to visit, the Trummelbach Falls located just 1.9 miles from Lauterbrunnen village.
Arguably, the Swiss Travel System is the best transportation network in the world, and going to the Schilthorn may just be the best day trip you can do with a Swiss Travel Pass.
Not only does the outing to the Schilthorn highlight the versatility of the Swiss Travel System by incorporating several means of transportation, it is also included for travelers using the rail pass.
From Stechelberg, postal bus service, also included in the rail pass, takes you back to Lauterbrunnen. Just follow the rainbows.
The BOB train awaits in Lauterbrunnen for the return trip to Interlaken.
As the afternoon yields to a glowing sun caressing the mountaintops, travelers staying in Interlaken, or someplace nearby, may choose to complete the adventure with a cruise around the Lake of Brienz.
Visitors from Bern can opt for a different boat along the Lake of Thun from the village of Spiez.
Go to the rear of the ship and watch the sunset over the now distant mountains.
Another great bonus Swiss Travel Pass holders receive is free admission to over 500 museums throughout the country.
George Lazenby may have only been a “one and done” James Bond. However, five decades ago, he played a big part in making the Schilthorn one of Switzerland’s top attractions.
The Swiss Travel System is truly a “moving” experience
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor is an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
He is the founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.
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