If you are a huge fan of the martini loving, British super spy, James Bond, then a trip up the Schilthorn Mountain should be part of your itinerary when you holiday in Switzerland. The Schilthorn is a 2,970 meter high summit in the Bernese Alps.
POSTED BY MYLENE GONZAGA
Numerous scenes were filmed on this famed Swiss mountain for the 1969 James Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, the only Bond film to star George Lazenby. Piz Gloria is the revolving restaurant on the Schilthorn. The Bond production team came across this mountaintop setting after 3 weeks of location scouting in France and Switzerland. There was a stalled construction of a sports bar / restaurant on site but the production manager found the place interesting. Believing they had found the perfect site, they helped finance the completion of this unique revolving restaurant and the helicopter landing platform for the right to use the facility for their next Bond movie. In the film it appeared as the medical research headquarters of James Bond’s nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld, brilliantly portrayed by the late, great Telly Savalas.
Still reeling from the adventure of going up the Jungraujoch Mountain just the previous day, (see related article) getting to Schilthorn, which is just a neighboring mountain, promised another scene stealing and exhilarating journey. After all, isn’t Switzerland all about the Alps, the scenery, and the efficient modes of transportation? While Jungfraujoch is known for the world’s highest railway system, Schilthorn is home to the world’s longest aerial cable-car system. It took us 32 minutes by cable car to reach the summit of 2970 meters high. Switzerland is indeed the land of superlatives.
Still based in the lovely town of Interlaken, we took a train to the nearby village of Lauterbrunnen. From there we took a funicular right up the side of the mountain. At the next stop, another rail took us into the gorgeous village of Mürren. A few scenes from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service were filmed in these two villages as well. After two more cable car lifts up into the mountains, we were at the doorsteps of the stunning Piz Gloria.
We arrived way before 12 noon but decided to zoom straight to the revolving restaurant as we wanted to grab a table by the window to fully maximize our Piz Gloria experience. The revolving solar-powered platform rotates around its own axis in around 45-55 minutes, gliding past more than 200 mountain peaks. Now that’s one unbeatable and memorable dining experience!
The menu is an amusing homage to 007 with choices like the “James Bond Breakfast Special, complete with champagne and scrambled eggs” to “Spaghetti James Bond”. Need a cocktail before dinner? Head off to the James Bond bar and order the legendary “Martini, shaken, not stirred”. Utterly famished, I opted to try the “Skyfall Fillet of Beef” for lunch.
It started snowing outside the terrace and we saw people scrambling to go inside. Remembering how feverishly hot it was back home, we did just the opposite. Soon enough, we had the terrace all to ourselves. How absolutely loony we must have looked.
Next stop was the souvenir shop, another piece of heaven for the Bond fans. All items are stamped with the classic 007 insignia. Now one of my treasured possessions is my oversized Bond mug from Schilthorn.
Now on to the interactive Bond experience! There is a 40-seat in-house cinema that shows clips of the movie and a helicopter simulator that puts you in the thick of the action of the air raid on the Piz Gloria, as seen in the movie. The exhibit also showed background information on the actors, the production team, props used in the film, and generally all there is to know on how this film came to be amidst the stunning background of Schilthorn.
One of the guides at the summit clued us in on their next project (just finished in mid-2015). The 007 Walk of Fame, to be built outside of Piz Gloria, will immortalize the cast and crew members of “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. This unique tribute will include their photo, signature and handprint in steel as well as a personal message on their memories from their time on the Schilthorn.
Where to Stay. If a day trip is not enough to explore and enjoy Schilthorn or the surrounding area, consider lodgings in the picturesque village of Mürren aside from Interlaken.
How to get there. Interlaken is easily reached by rail, either via Basel – Bern – Spiez or via Lucerne over the Brünig Pass. Change trains at Interlaken Ost for Lauterbrunnen, from where a bus takes you to the bottom station of the Schilthorn aerial cableway in Stechelberg. The aerial cableway to Mürren departs every 30 minutes. The nearest airport to Interlaken is in Bern, 1.46 hours away, followed by Zurich at 2.25 hours.