At one time, many moons ago, visitors to Wengen stayed in hotels almost exclusively. People were met at the station by uniformed porters and they and their luggage were conducted to the appropriate hotel by buggy, horse drawn at one time, but electric in the latter part of the twentieth century.
As the number of apartments for rent grew, the village’s taxi service became more and more important. It has been pretty nigh essential for parents arriving with a couple of children, several bags, skis and sledges and just as important for first time visitors looking for their home for the week in this extended village.
So when the last remaining taxi service hung up the car keys earlier this week, days before high season, it was difficult news for the village and those charged with making the tourist industry run smoothly. The village rallied round though, and as holiday makers arrived at the station this afternoon, they found their luggage would be taken on by the local plumber or electrician, among other business people, using their work vehicles. It was an odd sight at the station, but at the same time quite pleasing.
Early on, the day was pretty miserable. There was no queue at the cable car, which seemed about right, but at Mannlichen there were crowds of skiers despite the weather. The new lifts from Grund, along with the large car park next door, have changed the the way day skiers arrive on the mountain. Accessing the mountain via Grund, with a long trip up the Grindelwald valley and slow lifts, used to be the worst possible option. Now, it is quick and easy.
Once or twice during the day it looked like the weather might clear, but it never quite happened. It was another good day’s skiing though, with 8,704 vertical metres in 18 lift rides and 47 kilometres travelled.