The vast mountain range outside the window. Nothing but an adventure ahead of me. As the train started to slow down, I tied my hiking boots a little tighter and threw my camera around my shoulder. We had arrived to a little Swiss village I’ve heard stories of and seen breathtaking photos of for months before. The name, Engelberg, actually means ‘angel mountain’ and there’s a reason for that. Back in the 12th century, someone had heard the angels sing up on the mountains and later a monastery was built in the village that still stands today. Engelberg-Titlis is located in central Switzerland in the Obwalden canton, mostly known as a ski holiday destinations, especially among freeriders around the world. In summer, the destination is perfect for hiking and other outdoor adventures.
Among the mountains, I felt at place.
We were about to go hike for the whole day ahead and as I tied my hiking boots again, I felt the fear pop its head up. What if I can’t do it? What if I stay behind the group? What if I fall down? But I had the time of my life. So much so that I wanted to do it again right away – I still want to do it again. I dream of spending a month right here doing the same hike every day. I live with a spinal injury and this might just be where I could finally heal.
Fürenalp – my favourite hike down the mountains
One morning, we took a tiny little red cable car up to the mountains in Fürenalp. We stopped at the lovely restaurant on the top for some apple juice and enjoyed the sunshine while soaking up that fresh mountain air. Fürenalp offers several hiking trails lasting anywhere between 30 minutes to six hours. The trails are pretty easy and the views along the way will simply take your breath away. Mountains, waterfalls and cows roaming free.
We did a 3-hour hike down, hopped on another cable car down and stopped for lunch to continue hiking for another hour or so back to the station. Though I felt like I could have gone on for miles.Something about this hike made me forget how injured I am and reminded me how much I love the nature. Now I even want to go mountain biking next time in the country – that hopeless city girl in my has officially vanished into thin air. I need that wilderness. I need mountains. The wind in my hair.Along the hike, I also made several cow buddies. One simply has to make cow buddies when in Switzerland. Most of the cows are so friendly and enjoy a scratch behind the ear.
Where to stay and dine in Engelberg?
There are several accommodation options in town and more hotels are getting build in the area as tourism continues to grow as more of the world find this fairytale village among the mountains. We stayed at Alpenclub, in the heart of town. Alpenclub is a simple but cozy alpine hotel with all that you need from a comfortable bed to a delicious restaurant.
If you look for something fancier, many travellers seem to recommend a stay at Ski Lodge.
There are also some budget options such as a Youth Hostel. You can also rent an apartment or stay at some small guest houses.
What comes to dining, you will be spoilt in Engelberg despite its being a village. The restaurant at Alpenclub offers a delicious fondue, pizzas the locals have to eat weekly, a crazy good cordon bleau and if you are fan – don’t leave this place without trying their schnitzels.
Other restaurants worth recommending in Engelberg would be Restaurant Eienwäldli, Bergrestaurant Fürenalp and Brasserie Kondrad. Also don’t miss out on the mountain restaurant Flühmatt and their delicious Älpenmakaronen.
And make sure to visit Gerschnialp and Sälmi for some cheese. And if you are looking for a good coffee, Spannort Inn has your back.
Swiss cuisine and the clean mountain air
As you probably noticed on my Instagram during this trip, Switzerland impressed me big time – and I mean big time. I’ve had such a passion for understanding nutrition and healthy eating that I wanted to understand a bit more about why the Swiss are so healthy – surely they are the outdoorsy kind, but nutrition has to play a big part too.
The crazy thing is that the Swiss consume a fair bit of dairy and meat products, which many of us have learned to see unhealthy in today’s world – and yes, that mass produced overly chemicalized s*it is bad for you. And I guess everything in excess is bad for you – even Swiss cheese for that matter, which I’m not willing to accept.
The thing I really respect about the Swiss and their food is how they try to eat what their own land offers first – no vegetables get imported before their own are eaten first. And whatever need to be imported will be prepared inside the country as much as possible to ensure a clean production with fewer chemicals, so yes, even Coca Cola is healthier in Switzerland!
And what comes to the consumption of meat and dairy – I believe the way the animals are raised make a massive difference. Most animals that end up on your plate in Switzerland get to live a happy life outside most of the year. Yes, of course there is still the same slaughter as for any animal in the food production, but the better treatment throughout their life surely has a major impact.
Combining that clean eating with that clean mountain air made me feel like a new person. Right here on the mountains is where I feel most at home.
Text & Image: Finnish blogger, Veera Bianca