Mürren and the Alphorns

We are at the train station, Interlaken Ost, (East) early this morning to go to Lauterbrunnen. From Lauterbrunnen we take the funicular to Mürren.  Mürren, population 450, is a pleasant alpine resort filled with bakeries, cafés, chalets and no public road access. There are over 2000 beds available here in chalet looking hotels. Perched on a ledge overlooking the Lauterbrunnen Valley and surrounded by mountains (the Eiger, Mönch and the Jungfrau) Mürren is definitely “Heidi” like. Mürren is the highest continually inhabited village in the Canton of Bern. It is recognized by the design of the chalets and the pronunciation of the Mürren dialect.  In 1911 the first British winter tourists arrived. In the village there is no full time doctor, no police officer, and no resident priest or pastor, but keep your eye open for the “Milch Express,” a tiny cart that delivers fresh milk and eggs to the hotels and homes throughout the village. Getting off the train the hikers go in one direction, to the Gondola Station taking skiers and hikers up to the Schilthorn and down to Stechelberg via Gimmelwald, and the Japanese tourists with cameras bigger than they are, head off into another direction, to set up their tripods.  We follow the sound of music, literally. On a flat terrace of earth is a group of musicians providing a concert playing long, long, long horns called Alphorns. How much breath does it take just to blow one of those things? Alphorns, alpenhorns or alpine horns are used by the mountain dwellers for communication or signal instruments, substituting them for the lack of church bells. They are carved from solid softwood either spruce or pine. In former times the alphorn maker would use a bent tree to create the curved shape of the base, but modern woodmakers piece the wood together at the base.  The cup shaped mouthpiece is carved from a solid block of wood and added last to the instrument. The sound is similar to blowing through a long tube, but they do have music designed for the alphorn. After a café we walk to the paved utility road (wide enough for a small tractor with hay) and begin our descent to Gimmelwald.  Be sure to watch the video!  Scenery is fantastic!

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