A Few Days in Kandersteg

We both forgot how beautiful Kandersteg is! We spent two weeks here in September 2000 and enjoyed the town and the hiking. Since then we continued our mission to spend a week in every main valley in the Berner Oberland (and into the Vaud canton on this trip), so have not returned until now.

Kandersteg is at the end of a long valley south of Lakes Thunder and Lightening (they join at Interlaken). The road ends at the town, but you can take a car-train through the mountains to come out in the Valais. Kandersteg is at the end of this long valley, in a small, spectacular valley of its own. The valley floor is flat and the mountains rise straight up at the edges.

Kandersteg – View from our apartment

The town is small, but has a good sized Coop grocery store, several restaurants and hotels, and other good shops.

The hiking is very good with mountain rides (gondola and chair lift) on either side of the valley, another gondola at the end of the valley taking you to a large alpine area where you can walk for an hour or more and then look down into the Valais, and a bus that goes up another valley with good hiking.

Today we drove from Gstaad to Kandersteg. They are not that far apart but the drive is over an hour because you go down one valley to Spiez then up the next valley to Kandersteg. I drove today. I am finally getting used to driving in Europe. I did half of the driving when we were in Italy and was fine on the roads. The fast pace and close cars that used to make me nervous, don’t anymore. Driving in Switzerland is much easier than in Italy, but the roads are narrow (there never seems to be a shoulder. The drive from Gstaad to Kandersteg was beautiful.

Last night we went out for Chinese food in Gstaad. The menu said “Authentic Chinese food with no Swiss compromises”, I am not sure what that meant, but there was no Rosti on the menu. The world championships for Beach Volleyball started today in Gstaad, but the players and fans have been filling Gstaad the last few days. We sat beside the British women’s team at dinner – two young women (one from Ohio, but her mother is British) and their coach. Tall young athletes everywhere!

The main street in Gstaad is a pedestrian area about six blocks long with hotels, restaurants and high end shops. It turned into party-central last night with food booths, live music and people everywhere. There was even a booth selling fajitas (New Mexican food). It started to pour rain last night, so the festivities ended early. It was still drizzling today but the party continued and the tournament began.

We did some shopping in the morning – Swiss Army knives, a new watch for me (I have not worn one in 20 years, but am tired of never knowing what time it is), handkerchiefs (we get them on every trip).

Now we are in our apartment in Adams Alpine Eden in Gstaad. It is an old building (but renovated) on the main street (a quiet street) with four nice apartments. We are in the same one as last time. It was available because they had a cancellation and we are only here for four nights. It was nice to see Bill and Pam, the owners, again. When we were last here in September 2000, they had not been open for long. You can tell how long they have been running these vacation rentals by all the books on the shelves in the hallway! Everyone leaves their books behind and they have the best vacation book collection I have ever seen. I found a Joanna Trollope!

After three nights in a hotel, it is so nice to be in a vacation rental again and to do our own cooking. Meals out in Switzerland and for me it is either a cheese dish or a “gemuseteller” – plate of vegetables. Tonight I made brown rice, vegetables and these great soya cutlets they have in the stores here. And a chocolate bar (after all, we are in Switzerland and we like to eat the local foods 🙂 ).

We have three full days of hiking and if the power stations in the Cotswolds in England are okay, we will drive towards Geneva on Saturday, spend the night somewhere, then fly to England on Sunday.

But for now, more Alps!!

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Pauline Kenny

Pauline Kenny and Steve Cohen are US expats living in Dorset. We moved to the UK in 2010. Read about our move. If you would like to talk about travel, please join us on the Slow Europe Travel Forums.