Grindenwald & Jungfrau, Switzerland

One day whilst browsing Facebook, a link was promoted by Bucket list travels featuring a pretty looking village in Switzerland.

The village was Grindenwald and it was over watched by Mount Eiger in a stunning setting.
pic courtesy of TUI

It was one of those moments where you knew you would definitely definitely go there.
We as a family were planning on a driving holiday around France anyway over the Easter break and I was convinced I could get us there. In fact the trip became a little longer and we eventually ended up down the Cinqu Terre coast line in Italy but that is another story.

Being in Switzerland we all agreed we wanted a traditional wooden Swiss cottage on a mountainside.

There are loads on Airbnb and we chose one just outside of Thun, which is at the end of Lake Thun, one of the two lakes adjoining Interlaken.


The area has been  inhabited since around 3000BC and many important Bronze age artifacts have been found here. The name comes from the Celtic term “dunum” meaning fortified town. It fell to the Roman empire in 53ad and became one of the most important Roman towns in the region.

There were plenty of supermarkets in Thun so we stocked up ready for our Swiss cottage experience. Prices of food are quite expensive in Switzerland but nowhere near as expensive as eating out for a family of four all the time.

Our chalet was up a long winding mountain road. At first we were excited about the remoteness and then I started wondering about phone connectivity and the internet. As much as we like to travel, we are not a family for unplugging from the grid. “Dad the internet isn’t working” fills me with dread as I remember what life without ipads is like.

We arrived at the chalet. THERE IS NO INTERNET!!. I am going to have to entertain my children. I find this is best done after  a few glasses of wine and so get on with the job.

Pretty soon we are all having fun as I kick a football down the mountainside to see which of my kids can run the furthest and the fastest. This gives me more time to drink wine. A truly win win situation here.

Being an UberDad means taking care of things and that’s what I do. The laptop was loaded with movies, so as the evening came in, I cranked up the log burner stove, lit the candles and started movie night for the kids. Fran cooked dinner for us all and we slept soundly in the wooden cabin ready for our next days adventure In Grindenwald and up the Jungfrau.

Grindenwald is situated in the canton of Berne about 15km south east of Interlaken. Everywhere you look there is a picture postcard scene. The mountains tower over the town in a vertigo inducing manner.

We were here for the main tourist attraction, the 1 hour and 20 minute train ride to Jungfraujoch. The small mountain train climbs 2400 meters to the to of the mountain Jungfraujoch. Partly overground and a lot of mountain tunnel it takes you to a different world at the top of Europe.

We left Grindenwald around about  lunchtime having got tickets from the main Grindenwald station. Be prepared, it may only be a few miles but it is expensive. A typical adult ticket return is about £200 each. We did get the kids free as they were 4 and 5 at the time. It is well worth checking in advance for ticket prices. I was fairly certain we were never going to return to Grindenwald so not catching the train was not an option. It’s worth it believe me 😉

You set off at a rickety pace and the train really could be described as a rattler. Almost immediately out of town it begins a very steep ascent.

The scenery is jaw dropping and every twist and turn of track seems to deliver another dose of awe inspiring landscapes.

There are a couple of little stops before stopping at Kleine Sheidegg. Here you will find ski classes, cable cars and ski runs.


We didn’t bother with skiing but there were runs and classes for all abilities and ages. Surrounding the station are bars and restaurants for those wishing to get off the train and relax a while.

We continued on-wards and so had to change train to the real climbing train that run on cogs to get you up another 2500 meters in just 8km through the tunnels.

 

First stop in the tunnels is Eigerwand. You can get off the train for a few minutes where viewing windows allow you to see the North Face of Eiger. Continuing on and the next stop is Eismeer. Eismeer mean Ice Sea in German and the station was built to give views of the Glacier below.


At 3159 meters it is Europe’s 2nd highest railway station.

Next stop if the end of the line. Jungfraujoch.

The highest railway station in Europe and it takes your breath away. Literally, as at 3500 meters you notice the lack of air immediately.

A tunnel leads you from the station to the Ice Palace carved out of the glacier and also the alpine sensation which gave a lot of facts about the summit and the station. An elevator takes you up the last 100m to the peak where the Sphinx Observatory awaits. Here you will find one of the highest observation decks in the world. Views of Monch, Jungrau and Eiger await you. There are restaurants and bars inside if the weather isn’t great. You are very high up so the cold can get a bit much. The highest wind speed recorded here was 267kmh. You can leave the observatory and many people do to walk up the mountainside towards the summits of the mountains.


There is also a snow park to play in although this were closed when we visited.

Both our kids absolutely loved the trip. Going from warm sunshine to freezing cold up the mountain was exciting enough. The train ride was exhilarating and when they got out running about on the snow and the glacier they shrieked with laughter. Little Teddy was amazed he was on top of the world and how far he could see.

By late afternoon we had seen enough and the breathlessness was getting to me.

We decided to head back to Grindenwald for dinner. The train takes the same route back and you could feel the air getting thicker and warmer as we descended.


It is a fantastic opportunity to take photos on the way back of the landscape to make sure you have plenty of memories to look back on. The views are just as amazing the 2nd time round.

I must say by the time we were back in Grindenwald we were famished.


The restaurants at the top seemed OK but expensive and not great choices. The main restaurant had been booked by a private tour so maybe that would have been better. We headed into Grindenwald center and stopped and ate at the nearest restaurant.  “Barry’s” was an odd name but the food was fab. Frances went all Swiss and had a fondue. I thought it was just cheese and bread but the skewers had veg and assorted meats on. As well as bread :).


The kids had mixed grills and I had a Rosti which is a Swiss dish of grated potatoes fried served with pork skewers. The staff were great, offering crayons and books to keep the little people happy. Mum and dad demolished some wine and beer. Prices were good, food fabulous and great staff. If you’re in Grindenwald I would suggest giving it a try.

We left the restaurant and after short visit to the playground opposite, we drove along Lake Thun and headed home to the log cabin after what we all agreed was the greatest place ever, so far……

About Chris Stoner 12 Articles
A middle aged dad trying to keep his tribe happy in a world that is out to test his patience.

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