We left Montreux in the morning and got on the Golden Pass route to Interlaken. It's known as one of the most beautiful train routes in Switzerland, and it was obvious why.
We spent the whole trip in a car with a Chinese tour group. Every time we passed something pretty they would collectively ohhhh and ahhh and pack into that side of the train to take pictures of everything. It made us appreciate the view more too!
My mom and I planned a Rick Steves' trip. We read his guide books, listened to his podcasts, and spent hours in his Edmonds store mapping out our trip. Like hundreds of American tourists before us, we wouldn't have ended up in Gimmalwald without him.
After a train ride, bus ride and gondola ride up the side of a mountain we reached Gimmelwald by early afternoon.
We got a room in Rick's favorite hotel partly based on his advice and partly because that was the only room left on the mountain.
With our reservation, we got a very long email detailing exactly what we would NOT find at the hotel. It seems many of Rick's travelers expect chocolates on their pillows, a bathroom in their room and *gasp* an easy walk to the hotel.
My mom and I are tough. We climbed Mount Rainier and have camped out in the dirt more times than I can count. But the walk up to the hotel aggravated my cough and by the time we found our room I sounded like I was coughing up a lung.
Instead of actually manning the desk, they leave paper out for you to sign in by yourself. And they don't lock any of the rooms, so we just saw our paper and walked right in. I'm not sure if we would ever have seen the host if he hadn't heard my coughing. He sauntered over and welcomed us to the hotel with this creepy little giggle. A few minutes later he was back with more repulsive british accented giggles, and said he would actually prefer we not stay there and asked us to please leave as soon as possible.
Considering that you have to take a bus and a gondola to get to the town and every single other room in the village was booked, he couldn't exactly kick us out that night. But we sure didn't hang around long. As soon as we had grabbed our raincoats, we were off into the mountains.
The gondola up to Gimmelwald keeps going all the way to a big observatory, the Schilthorn, that has views of the Jungfrau and was the setting for a James Bond movie in the 60's. They really milked the whole James Bond thing, with life sized cut outs, a huge museum and the theme song playing in the gondola.
We had ordered Eurail passes for Switzerland and were delighted to find that they worked for the gondola up to Gimmelwald. Since we'd paid ahead, it all felt free! However the ride up to Schilthorn cost extra, so we wanted to time it right with the unpredictable weather. We reached the top of the gondola just as the clouds started rolling in and ran up to the observatory deck. This was easier said than done, as the stairs led up through the Bond museum, gift shop and restaurant. The whole group of us getting of the gondola had a hard time finding it.