Thursday, July 16, 2015

10 Reasons to Enjoy a Drink in the Breathtaking Bernese Oberland


The Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland is – in my opinion – the place you need to “see before you die” in the Alps. There is no other spot in Europe that I have traveled to more. I love it so much that – if not for a work permit dispute – I was prepared to move my family there a couple years ago. From quaint villages, to stunning blue lakes and impressive glacial peaks, the Bernese Oberland has it all. This region may not receive the same attention as other regions – Lake Luzerne, Zermatt, Geneva, etc – but with its natural beauty and fun drinking options, you’d be a fool not to hit this mountain paradise.
“Fun drinking options you say?”
If you find beer and awe inspiring views fun, than yes
Of course! Here’s a quick dive into some uniquely Oberland drinking options to go along with all of that beauty.
Adventure sports require a drink after completion
From Lauterbrunnen, to Wengen and down to Interlaken, the Bernese Oberland offers heart racing outdoor adventures. Ever wanted to zorb down a mountain, paraglide off of a cliff or ski the true backcountry? If yes was your answer to any of these then this region is for you. And everyone knows that the best way to wind down your adrenaline is with a good drink. Some outdoor companies in the Bernese Oberland even include the booze in your package for when your feet touch the ground.
We’ve all wanted to drink a martini like 007
Grab a martini and enjoy the above the clouds view at Piz Gloria
Piz Gloria – at the summit of the Schilthorn in the Bernese Oberland – is an awe inspiring 360 degree rotating restaurant with views of 4 countries at nearly 10,000 feet. It is also the one of the set locations of “On Her majesty’s Secret Service”, a James Bond film from 1969. Of course there is a martini on the menu.
The “Beer of the Alps” is from here
Enjoy a Rungenbrau, your local beer in the Alps
Interlaken is home to Rugenbrau, the “beer of the alps”. Since 1865 Rugenbrau has been satisfying locals and travelers alike with their crisp lagers. You’ll be happy to have a beer that those many travelers before you have enjoyed.
Craft beer has also exploded
Following in the footsteps with much of the western world, craft beer has begun thriving in the Bernese Oberland. You’ll be able to find at least 5 different artisans of hand crafted ales and lagers at the base of the Alps. If craft beer is your thing – raises head, hey I’m talking about me – then you’ll be able to grab some suds with very like minded people. Brewery tours on the doorstep of snow peaks and glacial lakes are like a dream come true.
An Alpine boat cruise at sunset with champagne? Yes please
Yup, you should probably hop on a boat. photo courtesy Freddy Enguix
There aren’t many lakes as beautiful as Lake Brienz or Lake Thun. Both set at the base of the Alps in the Bernese Oberland, these 2 lakes are a spectacular blue foreground to the rising mountains behind them. Catch a boat in Brienz for Lake Brienz or Interlaken for Lake Thun and soak up the sunset and some food and drinks. Let someone else do the driving while you sip – yes sip not sit – back and relax to the calm sounds of glacial water wake.
Relive your youth at the Funny Farm
Some hostels are different than others. Interlaken has one of those hostels. The Funny Farm is one of the great hostels of Europe. It is a meeting place of backpackers from around the world, and it is a great place have a drink or 10. No matter your age, if you want to hear about different routes to travel or things to do, you must at least have a drink at the Funny Farm. If you’re adventurous than I suggest a stay there as well.
Cheese and beer go together like….
Keep eating and making that great Alp cheese my cow friends
Well, like cheese and beer. You’ve seen the beer above, but the cheese – I dream about Alp cheese – is some of the best in the world. Alpkase – Alp cheese – is smothered on many dishes or just heated up for out of this world fondue. Cheese in the Bernese Oberland is served for the hearty soul that resides in you. Rich mountains of cheese to be washed down with cold lagers and ales, straight from the cows on the mountainsides of the Bernese Oberland.
Any table you pull up to has a “view”
Seriously, just grab a table, relax and enjoy the views.
Unless you are having a drink in a basement – which now that I think about it, I have before – there isn’t a table with a bad view in the Bernese Oberland. From views above the clouds, in the valleys or at the base of the Alps, any establishment you grab a drink in will have a spectacular alpine view. Drinks taste better when you are in a state of relaxed awe.
High end to budget drinks available for all
You can be as posh or as backpacker as you want in the Bernese Oberland
The Bernese Oberland caters to every group. From hotels, to restaurants and even places to grab a drink, the Oberland has options for every income bracket. You will see throughout the region fantastic 5 star hotels and friendly budget hostels. You’ll be able to eat with 5 forks at 1 meal, or settle in with a paper towel. And if drinks are your game - I’m assuming they are since you’re reading Passports and Cocktails - then don’t fret because you can settle in with a rowdy pint or have a nice brandy and cigar all in the same area. No matter your income bracket you’ll have a familiar place to party, I mean enjoy a drink.
Celebrate the “cows coming home”
Cows, sheep...basically whatever you can get a bell on. The Swiss people - and such those in the Bernese Oberland - are proud of their cows and such celebrate in the fall when those animals come down from the mountains after grazing season. Find a small town in the Oberland in the fall and listen for the bells, the cows will be close behind and a night of schnapps drinking will be ahead of you.
Beyond having an unlimited amount of things to do and places to drink, the Bernese Oberland is very easy to get to. Efficient rail will bring you to this quintessential Alpine area, with a number of transport options available to get you around the region itself once you’ve arrived.  And once you’ve arrived, the people of the Oberland will welcome you with open arms. I’ve never been given more free chocolate – anywhere on earth – than I have been given in the Bernese Oberland. And who doesn’t love Swiss chocolate?
Enjoy yourself at the top of Europe
So grab your cowbell, work on your alp horn skills and get ready for a breathtaking – and thirst quenching – trip to the Swiss Alps, Oberland style.  

(PS…I’m still available for Swiss hire so let those job offers flow)

Steven Grams is a seeker of new knowledge. He lives for travel, for adventure, for a new story. He absorbs everything and never forgets where he has been, who he has met, what he has seen, and how he got there.