Tag Archives: wengen

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

When I found out that the revolving restaurant from the James Bond Film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was to be found in a resort just one valley away from where I was skiing I knew there was no way I could miss it. I mean, revolving restaurants are cool at the best of times (in a slightly cheesy 70s kind of way, but cool all the same). But a revolving restaurant at the top of a mountain is even cooler. And one that’s starred in a Bond film too? I had to see it.

James Bond Revolving Restaurant Schilthorn Switzerland

"Piz Gloria", the revolving restaurant atop Schilthorn

Getting there from Wengen turned out to be quite an adventure in itself – first of all we took the mountain railway all the way back down into the valley to Lauterbrunnen. From there, a funicular took us back up the other side of the valley, from where we jumped onto yet another train, heading towards the resort town of Mürren. We got off half way, and then took a chair lift up to a ridge, then skied down to a valley, up a second chair lift to the next ridge, and then skied down a beautiful, wide run all the way down to Mürren and the start of the huge cable car. This cable car takes you up to another mountain, with gorgeous views over the wide, main ski area. At the peak, called Birg, we then changed cable car yet again for the final leg, up to the peak of Schilthorn, the 2,970m high mountain that dominates the resort, and to our final destination, Piz Gloria, the revolving restaurant that sits right at the top.

Bernese Alps viewed from Schilthorn

View from the top

Once you get out of the cable car, there’s a little exhibition explaining the history of the restaurant, and it turns out that not only was it featured in the film, but that it was actually built especially for it. That’s quite some investment for a few short scenes, there can’t be many other iconic buildings like this that were just created for one film, can there? There’s also a little cinema showing the film (which we skipped – even though I’ve only seen the film once I figured I could always watch it again when I got back home). Then it was time to head upstairs for the views – and they are spectacular. We were incredibly lucky to have yet another really clear day, and it turns out that the mountain is the perfect location for a revolving restaurant, for the mountain sits out on its own, unconnected from any mountains close to it in height, and separated by valleys from the higher peaks all around, giving a fantastic, wide open 360 degree view across the Alps.

007 view from piz gloria revolving restaurant

View of the Eiger, Jungfrau & Monch from inside the restaurant

The view of the beautiful trio of the Eiger, Mönch & Jungfrau was far better than from Wengen in one direction, and in the other we could see all the way down to Interlaken and the wide plains in the distance. It was all quite stunning. After taking time to take dozens of photos, it was time to head into the restaurant itself for a nice warming coffee. They take their Bond seriously here – the 007 motif is plastered all over every window, and the restaurant menu contains a heavily Bond-themed selection of cocktails and desserts. All pretty cheesy but fun, and the views made the long journey all worthwhile.

Diana Rigg Bond themed dessert schilthorn switzerland

Bond-themed dessert

Unfortunately due to my lost confidence, and my friend Ed having a dodgy knee, we decided not to ski down the long lack run into Mürren, and instead took the cable car back down to Birg for a hearty lunch of big curly swiss wurst and a beer (my teenage years living in Germany have definitely left me with a love of Germanic sausages, mmm), before taking the long cable car / walk / funicular / ski / button lift / ski / chair lift / ski / train / funicular / train all the way back to Wengen.

Funnily enough, even though I did less skiing that day, it was probably my favourite of all my days in Switzerland. The mountain views have always been one of my favourite things about skiing, and the views from Schilthorn are the best I’ve seen in Europe. We didn’t spend that long skiing there, but I actually much preferred Mürren to Wengen, even if it is a bit smaller – the ski area was more open, and seemed to have a much wider variety of runs across different mountains and ridges than in the resort we were based in, where most of the runs are down one side of the same ridge.

It was only after we’d got back to London that Ed realised he’d also been skiing recently in yet another resort featured in a Bond film – the airport in Courcheval is featured in Tomorrow Never Dies, which made me think perhaps I should check out the other resorts that have also featured in the films – Cortina in Italy (featured in For Your Eyes Only) and Berngarten in Austria (For Your Eyes Only) – although it turns out that sequence was actually filmed in Canada.

You can see all of my photos of my Swiss ski trip here.

Unlearning to Ski

After finding myself face down in the snow for the second time that morning, with my skis several metres behind me back up the slope, I began to realise I’d managed that rather impressive feat of actually unlearning to ski.

Wengen, Switzerland

Wengen from the mountain railway

It all started pretty well. I’ve been skiing a couple of times before, and while I’m clearly no expert I could get down most red runs without too much difficulty (if a little bit more slowly, and considerably less stylishly, than my friends) and had even tackled the odd black run on my previous trip in 2009. But I was acutely aware that my technique maybe left a something to be desired, so after a day of practising I decided to invest in a private lesson to sharpen my skills up a tad and hopefully move closer to my dream of one day being like the locals who effortlessly fly past you, looking elegant, entirely in control…and I would say cool, except for the fact that most of them still seem to be wearing hideous neon-coloured all-in-one ski suits left over from the 80s.

Eiger, Mönch & Jungfrau

Eiger, Mönch & Jungfrau


The lesson began OK – after showing off my skiing on a nice easy slope, my instructor told me I wasn’t bad, but thought there were a few pointers he could give me. Unfortunately after that it went downhill pretty quickly – to the point, after about half an hour, where he suddenly stopped and asked me if I’d ever had any lessons at all. I was obviously mortally offended but could perhaps concede he had a point, seeing as he’d managed to point out I was doing pretty much everything wrong.
Moonrise over the alps

Moonrise over the Männlichen ridge

But, like a patient teacher dealing with a particularly stupid child, he gradually managed to get me skiing at a level which he seemed to find satisfactory (although it was hard to tell towards the end, as he was getting increasingly bored with my stubborn inability to get it quite right, and spent more time chatting to friends than he did watching me. In fact most of the time he was chatting to me was spent pointing out how bad most of the other skiers were, which was probably fair enough, although I’d rather he’d have just focused on me). In fact, by the end of the lesson I was feeling increasingly confident I’d made the right move having the lesson, and even though I was going more slowly than before, I was doing it better – and speed would surely come in time.

Sadly, finishing the lesson was the high point of the week skiing wise for me. By the time I hit the slopes on the third morning, I swiftly realised that I was mostly very confused. My head was full of new ideas about the right way to do things. Unfortunately my legs had an entirely different idea and clearly resented the intrusion of my brain and decided to do their own thing. I attempted to reassert control of my own limbs with predictable results, and ended up with my skis crossed on a particularly icy patch on my very first run of the morning and went flying, landing rather painfully on my right shoulder. After picking myself and clipping my skis back on, I carried on only for the same thing to happen not five minutes later.

After that I pretty much lost my confidence entirely and found myself getting slower and slower over the rest of the week, as I attempted to effectively relearn to ski. It didn’t go entirely well, and by the third afternoon even the novice skier in our group was overtaking me with alarming regularity. It didn’t help that the resort had had no new snow for well over a week, a situation that was made worse by the glorious weather – there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and it was particularly warm, leading to some slopes turning slushy, patches of mud appearing – and worst of all big icy patches where the overnight cold had frozen the melting slush.

birds on a tipi with blue sky

Even the birds were enjoying the sunshine

It wasn’t all bad though: Wengen is a beautiful resort, consisting of a pretty little village (much nicer looking than the ugly purpose-built resorts in France that I’ve skied in before) and even better all of the main runs are dominated by a stunning view of the Eiger. Plenty of the runs twist and turn through the trees, and the glorious sunshine meant that lunchtime in the mountain restaurants was lovely.

There was plenty more too to enjoy in the area (more on which in my next posts) and I didn’t come away to disheartened – despite my falls I enjoy skiing too much to let it get me down too much, and I shall be back on the slopes next year. Probably with a fair bit more time in ski school though, I think.

You can see all the photos from my ski trip to Wengen here.