Just Traveling Thru
A trip to Grindelwald, Switzerland
Neither of us had ever been to Switzerland, and we had both seen any number of beautiful pictures
and videos of the mountains, lakes and valleys. In the midst of planning this particular trip,
we realized that we had decided to spend time in Lake Hallstatt, Austria and Lake Como, Italy but
we had not yet decided how to get from one location to the other.
So we sat down with Google Map and started to ponder how we ought to connect the dots. Once Celeste discovered that a really cool zipline was located in Grindelwald, and that we would be in a valley next to the Eiger Mountain, well that was enough for us to say "looks like we need to stay in Grindelwald for a while".
Grindelwald is very "walkable" as it is not very big (population 3,800 as of December 2018), so we knew that we wanted to park our rental car and that it would be nice to be near the village shops & restaurants. After those decisions were made, it was a simple process of finding a hotel that was reasonably located and had a parking lot.
If you have never been to Grindelwald & either you are planning a trip there, or you just want to know more about it, here are some good sources of information;
View from our Hotel Patio
We stayed at the Derby Swiss Quality Hotel, which is nicely situated; short walk to shops, pubs, rail station, etc. As you can see in this image, this was our view from our hotel room patio; that is the Mettenberg Mountain off to the right.
Grindel Lounge & Deko
We quickly got our bearings in Grindelwald, as it is a fairly small village. We discovered the Grindel Lounge & Deko very early in our stay.
Grindel Lounge & Deko
They have a nice selection of beers, coffees and pastries and occupy an easily accessed location on the Dorfstrasse (the main street of the village). And best of all, they are not only close to our hotel, but you have to walk by it on the way to the hiking trails or the gondola station.
The Grindelwald area is probably the most geographically diverse location we have ever visited. Chalets, tall mountains, cog railroads, cable cars, ziplines, mountain trikes, and excellent hiking trails. We decided that day one would be devoted to the First Flyer side of the village, and day two would be devoted to the Jungfraujoch side - the side where the Eiger Mountain sits.
On our way to the top of the First Flyer. This cable car ride is very scenic as you will pass over some very pretty houses & farms.
Below the First Cliff Walk Observation Platform
This is the view one gets looking down from the observation platform, and you can see Grindelwald off in the distance. We did not know it at the time we took this picture, but the trail you see going back towards the village is what we will walk down after our trike ride.
First Flyer Descent
This is a short video on YouTube of our descent down the First Flyer. It would be impossible to describe how much fun this ride was, made even more fun by the incredible scenic views of the mountains and the valley below.
We have just completed the zipline ride and we are now getting ready to descend down the mountain on a very steep trail, talk about a ride! The trail steepness allowed our trikes to move along at a brisk pace. The trike portion of the trail only lasted about a mile, then we had to dismount.
We both seem to be ready to head downhill, this is a "gravity powered" trike, so no pedaling or pushing necessary. The trike "stopping area" is where a snack bar resides, so an espresso and perhaps a pastry are sounding good right now. After the snack bar, we plan to hike back down to Grindelwald.
Going Down the Hill !
A video of me starting our trike ride down from the zipline area of the First Flyer in Grindelwald, Switzerland. This is a great way to start your downhill trek back to the valley below and a serious amount of fun!
These pictures show the hike down from the First Flyer back to Grindelwald; tons of beautiful scenery and we passed under the cable car several times. When we got back near the village, we passed a farm that sold cheese on the "honor system". You took the cheese you wanted and left the appropriate payment! We gave it a try, and the cheese was quite good.
The train to Jungfraujoch departs from the Grindelwald Train Station, which is immediately adjacent to our hotel - which is on the right side of this picture. No, there was no train noise as all of the trains are powered by electricity.
You can tell by the crowd that this is a very, very popular tourist thing to do. But we jumped onboard quickly, grabbed a seat and got ready to see some amazing scenery on the other side of the valley.
Next stop is the Kleine Scheidegg mid-mountain train station.
Kleine Scheidegg Train Station
This is the mid-mountain train station, where passengers from Grindelwald
(or elsewhere) exit the standard train they arrived on and board the cog train that will
convey them to the top of Jungfraujoch.
NOTE: This picture is the property of Martin Hawlisch via Wikipedia
Artists create the ice – with a great deal of flair. On a mirror-smooth tour through a frosty world, visitors will discover their works of art in nooks and crannies. An eagle, penguin or bear, as though they had just turned to ice, appear quite natural. Even at minus three degrees Celsius, they are melting.
Solid ice ceiling, walls and floor. You had to walk very, very carefully here! If you look at the ceiling & walls, you can see that this tunnel is indeed 100% solid ice! Walking was aided by the hand rails you can see in this picture, without them, I doubt that many people would have been able to avoid falling down!
Grindelwald to Lake Como via Route 11
You are probably asking yourself why are they devoting a section of this blog to a drive? It is because this drive went through some of the most stunning vistas and amazing mountain roads, that we have ever seen. This area of Switzerland and upper Italy, are well known for their mountain roads and to get a feel for what we experienced, you would have to look at some of the "Top 10 European Drives" lists.
Route 11 (aka "Susten Pass") is a mountain pass in the Swiss Alps. The pass road, built from 1938–1945, connects Innertkirchen in the canton of Bern with Wassen in the canton of Uri. A 300 meter long tunnel crosses the pass at 2,224 meters.
The average grade of Route 11 is 5.8%, the maximum grade is 9%. Seems steep doesn't it? Yet we continously saw bicycle riders headed up & down this highway!
Driving up from Innertkirchen on route 11 and you can see all of the tunnels we had just passed through, and it gives you an idea of how high we were at this point.
We were still on the western side of the summit, east of Gadmen and steadily ascending.
Another set of pictures as we ascend from Gadmen, Switzerland on route 11. Image #1 is looking back to the west, the direction from which we came up the Susten pass. Image #2 we are back on route 11 headed up to the summit.
Just as route 11 comes down from the summit and on one of the final major curves, we
come across the Restaurant Sustenbruggli. Since most of our drive had
been "white knuckle driving" we decided to stop and get something cold to drink and
maybe a light lunch.
See where the highway swings away to the left? That is route 11 headed up to the summit and that is the corner of the building where we got a table. And the entire time we sat there, there were numerous bicycle riders headed up the Susten Pass towards the summit and making good speed!
After we finished lunch, we got back onto route 11 until it merged into Switzerland route 2 and headed south to the Gottard Base Tunnel - the deepest auto tunnel in the world! At 35.5 miles in length, it is an amazing engineering achievement.
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Note: All images on this page are the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC unless otherwise noted.