If you’re a fan of “Crash Landing on You”, you’ll love this little tour! For the uninitiated, “Crash Landing on You” is the title of an immensely popular TV series about a South Korean heiress (Se-ri) who accidentally crash-lands her paraglider in North Korea then falls in love with a Captain of the Special Police (Jeong-hyeok). Where does Switzerland come into it? It’s the one country in which they feel it is safe to meet! My hometown of Melbourne is a multicultural city and the staff in my lab come from all corners of the globe, including S.E. Asian countries such as Vietnam, The Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and North Korea! This series is huge in all of those SE Asian countries as well as here Down Under. My assistant manager, whose wife is a big fan of this series, asked me to tailor a short trip through Switzerland to see all the sites. Have I watched the series? No. But I have seen footage and shots of the scenes that fans are raving about, and I know exactly where they are. So, let me help you to find your way around Switzerland and experience the thrill of standing in a scene you have dreamed about, but only seen on a screen.
Most international flights land at either Geneva or Zürich, and Zürich is the place to choose because it features in the series. Take the train from the airport: it’s as easy as taking an escalator down to the Bahnhof (train station) under the terminal. Most trains go to Zürich Hauptbahnhof (Main Station) and the signs are easy to read. At the airport, train announcements are usually in German, French and English. One very important thing to do is to download the SBB/CFF/FFS App (see below) on your smartphone: it will tell you everything you need to know about the Swiss train and bus system and it’s amazing. I could not have survived without it! If you wish to meticulously plan everything before leaving home, download this ASAP.
One very helpful article on Swiss Travel Passes can be found here:
Carolyn's excellent site has many,many more Swiss holiday ideas!
I suggest you stay a night in Zürich. I find my hotels by looking on Google Maps, finding the little purple bed symbols (ie places to stay) and going from there. Most will have links to their websites.
From the Hauptbahnhof (Zürich Main Station) grab a map (or use your smartphone) and take a walk along the Bahnhofquai, following the Limmat River, towards the Altstadt (old town). Settlement dates back to before the Roman era, but some of the streets are from medieval times. Enjoy exploring the cobbled streets, then head to the Lindenhof. This is where Se-ri mistakes the pianist for Jeong-hyeok
The narrow streets of Zürich's Altstadt
A little further along is the Münsterbrücke, which featured in the series’ pilot. Just across the river you will see the double spires of the Grossmünster church, dating from 1220.
The Grossmünster as seen from across the Limmat River
. . . A relaxed first day is the way to go , especially if you are recovering from a long flight! There are many more places to explore in the next few days!
BERN AND SURROUNDS
On Day 2 you return to the main Station of Zürich and take a train to Bern/Berne (many places have 2 different spellings: German and French). You will know which platform (Gleis) to wait on because you will find it in your App! Make sure you check the number on the carriage so you are in second class, or first class if you have paid the extra money! (I will write about tickets at the end of this blog entry). The journey to Bern takes approximately 1 hour.
You may wish to stop in Bern overnight if you have an extra day, as there is so much to see in this city, the capital of Switzerland. There are long arcades of shops, cobbled streets with trolley buses, historic fountains and grand buildings. Otherwise, take a train from Bern to Thun (again, use your App). The train will be heading in the direction of Interlaken Ost. Leave the train at Thun station (about 20 minutes from Bern) and, if you have time, you can walk into the older part of the town and see the beautiful old castle (Schloss). The station sits near where the Aare River flows into the Thunersee (Lake Thun), and this is one of the lakes featured in “Crash Landing on You”. Just across the road (and small car park) is the BLS (Lake Steamer) dock. Although it is slow, taking the lake steamer is the most beautiful way to travel to your next destination. Buy a ticket to Gunten, but you will want to resume your journey from Gunten later. If you are travelling on a Swiss Pass (see "TICKETS” note at the end of the blog) you will not have to worry about this at all! (I highly recommend purchasing one of these before you leave your homeland).
Restored steamer on Lake Thun. (Niesen mountain is in the background).
. . .
It takes the lake steamer about 35 minutes to reach Gunten, and once you have disembarked, use your phone map to find your way up the Sigriswil Strasse, if you are OK to walk. Otherwise catch the bus to the Panorama Bridge Sigriswil. This is where Se-ri contemplates suicide in Episode 4.
It costs 8 CHF (Swiss Francs; 2023 price) to cross the bridge and it does sway- be warned! However, the views on a clear day are spectacular. As you look out over Lake Thun, the huge Bernese Oberland mountains are to your left.
Don’t stay here too long: you need to get back to Gunten and take another steamer to Interlaken West, and the journey takes just over 1 hour 30 mins. I love criss-crossing Lake Thun, watching the snow-capped mountains coming closer and closer. Pray for a clear day!
Beautiful Iseltwald. (Photo courtesy Sylvia Michel; see michelphotographych on Insta) . . .
Interlaken has many hotels and you may wish to book a room and base yourselves here. The name of this town translates to “between lakes”, as Interlaken lies between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. Lake Brienz, or the Brienzersee, features in one of the most iconic scenes in this series. Cow on the shores of lake Brienz!
. . . From Interlaken West, which is just across from where the steamer terminates, take a short train ride to Interlaken Ost. Follow the signs to the lake steamer (again, it is very close to the station), and board the steamer bound for Brienz. This time you will be criss-crossing the Brienzersee and you will be disembarking at Iseltwald- a 45 minute trip. You will recognize this area immediately as the place where Ri Jeong Hyeok played the piano on a small landing overlooking this beautiful lake. Please note that the scene was filmed on a private landing, so do not trespass on private property. You will be able to get great photos from nearby!
There are a couple of places to stay in Iseltwald, such as the Boutique Hotel Bellevue, but you may prefer to board the next boat and carry on to the village of Brienz where there are more options. The journey time is approximately 30 minutes.
Wherever you choose to base yourself, you will want to do one or two day trips from Brienz and one from Interlaken Ost. By train, Interlaken Ost is around 25 minutes from Brienz, so I recommend staying in Brienz and having a base, rather than constantly unpacking and packing.
DAY TRIP 1. Looking down towards Grindelwald from Kleine Scheidegg
This- the most spectacular day of the day trips- should wait for a clear day. From Interlaken Ost, you need to take a train up to Grindelwald (30 minutes). The train is long, and it splits into two at Zweilutschinen, so make sure you check the sign on the outside of the carriage before you get in! The scenery is stunning, especially when the Wetterhorn and Eiger mountains come into view.
Scenes were shot in 2 different places around Grindelwald, and if you want to take your time to see both places, pack an overnight bag and stay in the village. If you are pressed for time, I recommend just going to a place called ‘First"‘.
You will need to walk up the main street of Grindelwald and follow the signs to the Firstbahn, which is up a rather steep road to your left. From here, a gondola ride will take you high up the mountain to a viewpoint that will take your breath away! This is where Ri Jeong Hoek and Yoon Se-ri had a tearful reunion.
Getting to Kleine Scheidegg involves starting back in Grindelwald, taking a train from Grindelwald station down to Grindelwald Grund, then all the way up to the foot of the magnificent Eiger (don’t worry, you don’t have to change trains!). This journey takes at least 30 minutes. Kleine Scheidegg features right at the end of episode 2, and you may want to skip this and just spend a few hours up at First. There are numerous walks to take, plus there is a “Thrill Walk” built into the side of the mountain, only for those who dare! You need to factor in the journey back down in the gondola, then the train down to Interlaken Ost and back to your hotel when you plan your activities.
DAY TRIP 2 No filters applied: this is the true colour of the Lungerersee!
Lungerersee in Autumn The church (Kirche) at Lungern
The final destination is the Lungerersee, and this is where our happy couple finally find peace. You will need to get to Brienz, and then further along by train to Meiringen. From Meiringen station it is only half an hour by train to Kaiserstuhl Bahnhof (station), crossing the Brünig Pass then descending to travel alongside the lake. You will recognize the incredible blue colour of the Lungerersee when you see it, especially on a clear day! Lungern is worth a look, but Kaiserstuhl is closer to the tiny village of Bürglen, and that is the site of the couple’s chalet. Walk along the lake shores from Kaiserstuhl Bahnhof and take in the scenery that our loving couple experienced. Take a picnic lunch: there are plenty of areas to sit and eat. One word of warning: the chalet in the series is a private property, so please respect the owners of the chalet’s privacy and do not trespass.
Another view of the Lungerersee
If you have very little time, you can take your photos around the lake near Kaiserstuhl, eat lunch and return to Zürich (though you will have your luggage with you). The trip from Kaiserstühl to Zürich is 1 hr 40 min. Interlaken Ost to Zürich by train is a fairly straightforward journey, taking 2 to 2.5 hours, depending on which train you take. One journey involves changing trains at Spiez and Bern; the easier journey is just one change at Bern.
TICKETS: LOOK ON-LINE FOR SWISS TRAVEL PASS TICKETS (www..swiss-pass.ch) WHICH WILL COVER ALL MAIN LINE RAIL JOURNEYS & LAKE STEAMER TRIPS, AND GIVE UP TO 50% DISCOUNT ON OTHER MOUNTAIN RAILWAYS. THIS WILL MAKE YOUR TRAVEL SO MUCH EASIER THAN TRYING TO PURCHASE TICKETS AT EACH POINT. I ALWAYS BUY ONE BEFORE TRAVELLING IN SWITZERLAND. THERE ARE YOUTH PASSES FOR THE UNDER-26 AGE GROUP, HALF-FARE OPTIONS, KIDS’ OPTIONS PLUS FLEXI OPTIONS. TAKE THE TIME TO CONSIDER WHICH ONE IS BEST FOR YOU.
So there you have it! The best “Crash Landing on You” sites in just 4-5 days!
I hope this helps you undertake the journey of a lifetime.
My thanks to Christine, Vincent and Sylvia Michel for their photo contributions.