Day 12: Ringgenberg to Spiez

The view from the hotel this morning is not as spectacular as some of the past days, but at least it is clear and sunny.

From Ringgenberg it is only a couple of miles of wonderful level walking along the lake shore to the world famous town of Interlaken.

Even here in May, and at this hour of the morning, it is filling with tourists. We avoid most of the mess by staying on the opposite side of the Canal from the main tourist drag. In any case we move through quickly! But as we d so, we get a few glimpses of the mountains in the distance (our destination for later today).

And being Switzerland, the land of constant construction, what is more appropriate than a crane directly in the view.

Fortunately, after a brief walk the crane is no longer in the view..

We finally leave Interlaken and continue toward the Thunersee. The walk is level and we make good time as we pass through a wildlife preserve at the head of the lake.

Our real goal today is to visit the site of the renowned St. Beatus, slayer of dragons and pretender to the title of Apostle of Switzerland.

But first we have to get there. As as been often the case during our walk, the road hugs the lake, but the trail goes up, around and down.

But the view is wonderful.

The  stories of St. Beatus of Lungern are at best conflicting, and certainly far from coherent: Was he from the 1st century or the 6th? Did he chase off a dragon? Was he Irish or Scots? Whatever, he left a large impression! And lived in an awesome spot!

We do know that he wandered from England to this part of the Alps and was then largely successful in converting the locals to Christianity. Known for his piety, he lived as a hermit in a cave above the Thunersee (the Beatus Höhlen),  and that he is credited with driving away a Dragon that lived there (perhaps a metaphor for chasing away the devil and introducing Christianity?).

In any case the Beatus cult was huge in the Middle Ages, and despite Zwingli‘s best efforts to suppress it the pilgrimage to his caves not only survived the Reformation, but thrived and remains popular to this day (though mainly for tourists!). So naturally we have to check it out for ourselves!

Whatever else you can say about this tourist trap, the setting is truly spectacular!

As an aside, there was a really cool self-service phone charging station there. For no cost, plug your phone in (all different adapter types provided inside the locker), lock it up, take the key, and after your tour, you return and pick up your phone, leaving the key behind.

After visiting the Beatus Höhlen we endure some ups and downs to finally reach Merlingen where we catch a boat across the Thunersee to Spiez. The walk is uneventful, but does provide numerous photo opportunities (of course).

And finally we arrive in Merligen to catch our boat to Spiez.

The 20 minute trip gives us a few moments to sit. Once in Spiez, we leave the Jakobsweg and find the train station – and surprise! Another steep walk up the hill to the Bahnhofstrasse. But not discouraged, we are on our way to a rest day in Murren! The train ride reverses our trip back to Interlaken, but then we head south into the Lauterbrunnen valley and on to Murren. After two trains, a cable car from the valley floor, and another train, we arrive in the car-free village of Murren.

Here’s an observation: enjoying a beer on our hotel terrace, we hear for the first time in twelve days English being spoken at a nearby table. We have been eating in very local gasthauses, and until today have always been the only “gringos” in the room. This is a tourist town (very rightly so), so no surprise. A bit jarring nonetheless.

2 thoughts on “Day 12: Ringgenberg to Spiez

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