Europe Travel

Grindelwald First: Switzerland’s mountaintop playground

Switzerland is such a strange wonderful place that not only do they make it so easy for you to get to the top of every towering mountain, but they also give you toys and games at the top! When you want to take a break from hiking and just ride really fast down the side of an incredibly steep mountain, Switzerland has your back. While using Lauterbrunnen as our home base, we took the train over to Grindelwald to take advantage of Switzerland’s love of adventure. We went early to beat the crowds!

When you arrive at the bottom of Grindelwald First, you’re presented with a number of options. You can go up to the top and just pay for the gondola, ORRRRR you can buy tickets to their adventure activities to get a little thrill while enjoying the mountain! So you can buy one, two or three activities with your ticket up the mountain. We went with two: ziplining and mountain carts.

The Skywalk

But we didn’t just dive right in. The first thing we did was grab a bite to eat at a cafe. Coffee and a pastry – breakfast of European champions. Then we saw what would be our first adventure, which you don’t have to pay extra for: the Skywalk. We could see it from where we were eating breakfast (yes this was our view), all the way to the right in this photo:

Now, if you’ve been reading these posts on Switzerland, or you know Neal, you may remember he is a bit skiddish when it comes to heights, particularly when I am around any edge. The Skywalk turned out to be a great test of this fear.

But the view was just unbeatable!

Bachalpsee

We enjoyed this view, though we sort of beelined off the Skywalk for Neal’s sake. Just on the other side of the walk, you come to a path that leads you to a beautiful lake called Bachalpsee. The walk, though uneventful, came with the gorgeous backdrop of the mountains, waterfalls and snow. It was blistering hot outside, so to see the snow felt like seeing a mirage. I continuously kept snow in my hands to help cool me down.

And by snow, I mean SNOW:

By the time we got to the lake, the snow covered the ground. Even part of the lake itself was still frozen over.

But of course, the part that wasn’t frozen over was a deep blue with the peaks of Eiger, Fiescherhorner, and Finsteraarhorn framing and mirroring in it. We caught some people throwing snowballs and just having fun hanging out here.

We made our way through the snow to a bench to have some alone time. It was nice to sit in the sun surrounded by snow and mountains. Neal got his classic behind the head shot here:

Ziplining

When we headed back to the mountain top, we were ready for an adventure! Our first activity was ziplining. Earlier in the morning, there was a 0 minute wait to zipline. This is why we left early! But then we decided to do the Skywalk and the lake before the activities…so now there was a 75 minute wait…in the 100 degree heat…oh man, I almost died. 75 minutes is no joke.

When we finally got to the front of the line, I just about didn’t care anymore about the adventure…just kidding! It was time to zip down through the mountain! It was over very quickly, but it was still so fun! The wind through our hair hundreds of feet high. We were surrounded by paragliders, too. It was surreal.

Mountain Carts

Our second activity was the mountain carts. These are big wheels for adults. They have no pedals, only brakes, and use the 60% incline of the mountain to hurtle you down. This was the most fun thing we had done so far, by far, and possibly of the whole trip! The views were amazing and we were alone on the road. There was no wait and the whole thing was self-guided with a few turn outs to take photos.

Alas, there was no cover along the way and the heat wave meant that the sun was baking us alive again. Our sun burns flared with pain. Reason overruled desire and we called it a day at the bottom instead of hitting the gondola, riding it up the mountain, and getting back on the bikes for another go.  On a cooler day, I could see doing this 3-4x.

Neal finishing up his ride

To further avoid the heat, we hid in the shadows of the buildings along Grindelwald. I saw an open gelato place and ducked in. The shopkeep was only just opening, technically not even open yet. But I begged her pleeease. I was so hot. She acquiesced. We both chose some delicious flavors and she piled them high on cones. Then I see, cash only. Shooooot. I didn’t have any in that moment! So I ran across the street and found an ATM. We paid the woman and headed to a gift store. Neal got a hat, which looks adorable! We then headed back to Lautebrunnen. From town, we took the bus out to Trummelbach falls to finally cool off in the waterfall. Read all about that here!

Otherwise, that sums up our trip up Grindelwald First and to Bachalpsee. Were it cooler, we would have spent the whole day here. Hope you enjoyed our story as much as we enjoyed being there!

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