Buy cheese, buy wine, find a bench.
Life need not be complicated to be extraordinary. While this picture does show a truly extraordinary view, that was just part of what made the moment it was taken in special. Not shown is the small brick of local cheese and small bottle of white wine that was shared with my partner while we quietly marveled at this view (but see the video below!). It was those two things and the simple story behind them that made this moment truly special.
We were wandering Wengen. In part, we ended up there because it was on the other side of the Lauterbrunen valley than that we had already explored. We also have friends who regularly vacation in Wengen, and they told us it was a must-see. Even still, in comparison to the rest of the valley, it felt like a “go there for the sake of going there” kind of excursion. I was already quite content with the experiences, the views, and the hiking we had found on the Mürren side of the valley. But with half a day to spend, we figured why not pay Wengen a visit.
As a town it was not my favorite compared to Mürren or Gimmelwald, and once we had wandered down its main corridors, we began to feel just a bit fidgety, ready to move on. We decided it was time for at least a bit of something to eat and a sit with some deep breathes to get ourselves centered again.
We stopped at the next shop that looked like it sold any sort of food, a convenience deli where, in a broken but delightfully kind conversation with the deli’s owner, we managed to purchase a small block of local cheese. Of course we also asked if he had any white wine, which he did. At this point he got the picture and explained, “Ah! A picnic!” and proceeded to gather up a fresh baguette, a bottle of juice and some bars of Swiss chocolate. It’s wonderful when, with a little bit of ambition and some putting yourself out there, the world provides. It’s not easy or comfortable overcoming language or cultural barriers, but exposure is best, and I’ve found that I usually have more in common with people around the world than I think. At least the idea of “a picnic” was something we were all onboard with in that deli, which I was thankful for in many ways.
Before we left the deli, the owner told us to go enjoy our food on the bench near the Protestant church. With directions in hand, we followed a path to a delightful bench, perched on a hill that disappeared over something vast into the bottom of the valley. The church bells tolled gently on the hour, sending an echo out to the hills beyond. We sat, our feet dangling off what felt like the edge of the world, eating our cheese, our small bottle of cheap wine, our bread. In that moment, if only for a moment, I felt as if I needed nothing else in the whole world. I had cheese, wine, mountains, and most importantly, my girl.