We kind of stumbled upon the Männlichen Royal Walk – in that mindless way that happens when you’re walking along, look up and think “ya, let’s do that.”
We should have given it more thought.
What is the Männlichen Royal Walk
We had just finished lunch in Wengen, Switzerland after arriving by train about an hour earlier. The skies had cleared from a dreary rain, so we were looking around for something to do.
In a place like Switzerland, your eyes naturally move up – and that’s when we saw the bright red cable car heading up to Männlichen, a mountain peak about 7,680 feet above sea level. My husband, the photographer, thought it might offer some good views of the valley and surrounding Bernese Alps.
We were not disappointed.
Our ears popped on the way up and it was definitely a few degrees cooler as we stepped out of the cable car into the ever so fresh mountain air. That’s when I saw it – a sign saying “Royalty Awaits You.”
Why my husband the photographer didn’t see or take a picture of this sign is beyond me.
Nonetheless, we discovered we were at the base of what is called the Royal Männlichen Walk. Looking up, it didn’t appear that bad. The sign said it was about a 15 minute walk and the reward was “worthy of a king.” They had me.
So off I trotted with my husband toting 40 pounds of camera gear a few steps behind.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Bernese Alps
It turns out, we were preparing to see a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Europe’s three highest peaks – the Eiger, the Mönch and the Jungfrau – are all visible from this spot and those peaks represent all of the factors that qualify for such designation.
At seven stops along the trail, small royal scepters serve as information stations – some including the various types of rocks from the mountains, others paintings by Swiss artist Ferdinand Hodler, others with stories about people who have successfully ascended all three peaks. It was rather interesting, but more importantly, reading these exhibits was a good reason to stop and catch our breath.
We were quickly being outpaced by, well, everybody of all age and nationality. And there was no way we were going to make this climb in the advertised 15 minutes.
But we plodded along, enjoying the fresh air and not backing down from the challenge – even when a little old Japanese grandma passed us on her second lap up the trail.
Then suddenly we were there – maybe it took us 40 minutes, but it was indeed an experience worthy of royalty.
I sat there for the longest time, while my husband took pictures, waiting for the sun to illuminate the face of the mountains just so. A bird flew below me and the sound of cow bells drifted up from distant meadows. I listened to a dozen or more languages being spoken by those who also made the climb.
Yes, I thought, this is what it’s like to be royalty. This is what is means to be king of the world.