J is for Jungfrau region, Switzerland | Summer 2019

Verdict
Our trip to Grindelwald in the Jungfrau happened by accident – we knew we wanted a bit of lakes and mountains, selected Lake Brienz for our first stop, and added 3 nights into a hotel in Grindelwald as Garry’s 50th birthday treat. We had no idea how popular it would be with coach-loads of international travellers seemingly having chosen Grindelwald as their Alps bucket list choice. In fact, we had unknowingly stumbled upon a European alpine adventure park, with go-carts, a huge flying eagle you strap onto, alpine scooters (or trottibikes), a zip wire and a vertiginous cliff walk and platform. In fact, there is loads to do at Grindelwald First, it’s all very accessible and it’s brilliantly organised. It’s also a perfect place to stay for a trip up to the Jungfraujoch, the top of Europe (more on this to come).

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Hints and tips
We loved our 3 nights in Grindelwald BUT, as always, we could probably have done with a bit more planning and prep in terms of logistics and ways to save some the cash. (In short: do things in the mornings, buy a Swiss rail card if possible, go for the saver passes and only take children under 16 … absolutely none of which we managed to do!!). ⁠

Day 1: Grindelwald First

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First thrill at Grindelwald First: the cliff walk, featuring this section underneath the enormous cliff, followed by a suspended bridge over a gorge and ending with a platform jutting out 45m from the mountain held up by a couple of poles 🙂 Great fun … for us three at least (the boys were too scared to do this!).

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Mountain carting down a very high mountain on a narrowish path behind a 10 year old who seems to keep forgetting her wheels are twice as wide as her handlebars (and therefore strays perilously close to the edge of the path from time to time) was way more fun than it sounds!

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Fantastic views from the cliff walk viewing platform at Grindelwald on Friday. To get there, you are supposed to take the vertiginous metal walkway round, and sometimes under, a huge rock face, and over a suspended metal bridge, so that’s what Annie, Orla and me did (see photo above0. Garry and Isaac didn’t fancy the cliff walk, so Garry snuck in for the final part — this suspended platform 45 metres out into the void. The views are amazing, and stepping out onto the end of the platform does feel like stepping into a void, but as with many things that day, we were mostly entertained by the endless photography and selfie shenanigans of everyone else queueing up for their mountain photo opp. We really need to work on our photo poses!! ⁠

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For the record, here is the Grindelwald First viewing platform, complete with queueing photography shenaniganists. And beautiful alpine views of course!

 

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Final Grindelwald First adventure for some us — the First Glider. If you look carefully you might spot Garry and Annie (far left) oh so casually sweeping into land after their 4 minute flight up and down the mountainside. They did seem remarkably un-phased by the whole thing, but it looked pretty hairy from the ground.

Day 2: The Jungfraujoch — going UP

Can you believe this pic was taken in August in Europe? Totally mad to think that in high summer we were in snow at the top of Europe — the Jungfraujoch, Switzerland — so high we could sledge and ski in the middle of summer. At an altitude of over 3400m this is the place for snow even in summer …. 2 trains from the valley in Grindelwald, up through the mountain and suddenly you’re in a winter wonderland complete with mini snow park, zipline, viewing platforms and ice palace. ⁠

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IMG_2386When we realised what a thing it is do here, we were racing round the lovely but pricey shops of Grindelwald in search of anything woolly we could buy to keep us warm and quizzing the hotel about the best way to do this magical thing without the whopping (almost 1000 Euros) price tag we’d been quoted online. ⁠

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How pristine is that landscape? We were among the first to arrive at the top of the Jungfraujoch last month because we got the cheaper first train.

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Was it worth it? Yes, we agreed it was. The views are insane from the viewing platform, we LOVED the novelty of walking and playing in the snow, everything about the train was wonderful, and most of us enjoyed the ice palace, even if it was less Elsa’s creation from Frozen and more icy villain’s lair with the occasional sculpture thrown in. Would we do it again? We think we probably don’t need to. ⁠

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Do your kids walk willingly, or are they a bit reluctant? We have 2 walkers and one who is less keen so she needed lots of encouragement on this walk down from the Top of Europe to Grindelwald. We didn’t walk the whole way – we got the train for the first leg — but the section down from Kleine Scheideg was such a lovely varied route. It starts with alpine meadows and cow bells, passes through pine forests and ends in the rural outskirts of the town.

 

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