To the valley of 72 waterfalls! Imagine a rainy glacial version of the Great Valley from The Land Before Time and you’ll find yourself in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland; but instead of dinosaurs, you’d see horses and cows and a few rogue sheep.
With pastoral feels of quaint scattered chalets to contrast the enormity of nearby encompassing mountains, this place is truly a spectacle for sore working eyes. Oh Lauterbrunnen, a most gorgeous gorge, if there ever wasn’t one. Draped with waterfalls on all sides, it lays on a luscious green blanket of long grasses, decorated with small evergreens throughout. Massive walls of rock flank and conceal the valley, preserving its unique atmosphere from the inside. And only just visible to the south, peeks the vast snowcapped mountains of Jungfrau that summit the Bernese Alps.
On the surface, Lauterbrunnen appears a slightly furnished picturesque mountain town with a community of neighbors, probably each with their own fields for crops and animals, and the ability to make day trips simply out of going into town for groceries. It’s a romantic countryside of a valley, full of distant ringing cowbells, postcard views and exploration waiting in every direction. But beneath all the lavish natural ambiance and semi-secluded charm, rests a well-worn tourism-driven encroachment.
Though the current tourism in Lauterbrunnen is relatively diminutive, excessive chalet-like vacation hotels, “traditional” restaurants, souvenir shops and the like can still manage to cheapen a place, even one as expensive as Switzerland. But does that mean such a place has begun to sell out and lose authenticity? Mmm… yes and no, but this is a whole other topic to be discussed later. At the moment, one may still walk around Lauterbrunnen unhindered by rush hour traffic, big neon storefronts, canvassers or a reason to politely convey that he/she unfortunately doesn’t have a few minutes to spare. This is certainly a good thing; to be surrounded by chains of flowers more so than chains of establishments is always a good thing.