9/5/10 (Day 4)
Was today only day 4 of our vacation? It feels like we’ve been here much longer. We slept in this morning as yesterday was a long day. The Downtown Lodge in Grindelwald, Switzerrland has a complimentary breakfast buffet which mostly serves bread, cheese, juice, cereal, yogurt, and coffee. It works for our purposes.
After breakfast we packed our bags and walked about 5 minutes to the Grindelwald-First gondola. There we bought our 6-day Jungfrau region passes that will be good for all the transportation in this area. Our Eurorail passes are not good past Interlaken.
We proceeded to the First gondola and commented how strange it was to get in without any skis. It was much easier for sure! Also, riding up with the green grass below instead of white snow was odd. The ride was about 20 minutes long with 1 accelerator, and 2 stations before our final station at First.
First is very popular. There were oodles of people out ready to hike and lots of dogs too. We found it interesting to pass through a turnstile to enter the hike, but we would soon find that most hikes involved entering through some kind of gate so the livestock didn’t get out. The Switzerland hikes are all very well labeled and all the distances are shown in time to get there, not length of travel.
Starting at the top of the mountain was a treat rather than hiking up and we enjoyed all the beautiful panoramic views the hike had to offer. I also had fun playing with my macro lens and taking photos of the flowers on the hike. We didn’t see any wild animals, not even any squirrels, but we did see lots of cows. Actually, we heard the cows before we saw them. The Swiss put large bells on all the cows of various pitches, and hiking through Switzerland is like walking through a chorus of wind chimes.
Our first stop was at Bachalpsee with 2 lakes that offered views of the various surrounding mountains including the famous Eiger, Wetterhorn, and others that had long German names. We walked around the lakes and especially admired the complex spillways that kept the lakes regulated.
After the lakes, we headed towards Waldspitz. We had to walk through several small herds of cattle all with their bells and it was a noisy hike. Several of the cows were near enough to the trail to get decent photos as well. Towards the end of this portion of the hike we found the milking facility.
Finally, we arrived at our lunch stop, Waldspitz. Still on the mountain, many spots have huts that double as restaurants and sometimes dorm rooms as well. Waldspitz had an outdoor terrace as most do and we ate our lunch admiring the mountains. Luckily the staff spoke some English and we were able to communicate, but the menu was in German. Mark picked a random item that ended up being a platter of sausage, cheese, and some veggies, while Joanna found a salami sandwich. There were lots of people eating and drinking beer. Mark had a Rugen Bach beer made right near here in Interlaken. We also watched several goats wander over to the terrace, eating flowers out of the pots, and then trying to grab some food off of an unsuspecting tourist’s plate. Oh, and did I mention the view? Gorgeous in all directions.
After filling our stomachs, we headed down, down, down, to Bort (also a restaurant and gondola stop). The hike down had lots of tiny switchbacks. By tiny, I mean they were sometimes only 2-3 steps to the next switchback. At Bort we jumped on the gondola going back down to Grindelwald.
We wandered around Grindelwald, did some grocery shopping, and found some interesting tourist shops. At one, there was a relief map of the region all made of gold! At another we watched a video showing how to make hollow chocolate in molds. Most all shops sold the Swiss watches and Swiss knives. These items are everywhere.
We ate dinner at Rend-evous which was delicious. The staff spoke English, and the menu even had English on it as well. We ate on an outdoor terrace with views of the Eiger again. I had some weinerschnitzel, and Mark had a roast beef fitness plate with assorted legumes (veggies).
We came back to the lodge for dessert consisting of some bought Callier chocolate. Overall, this was a great day. We hiked probably around 5 – 5.5 miles total and got to see for miles on such a beautiful and sunny day. The temperatures didn’t get above 75 in the sun, and in the shade it was very pleasant. So far at night it is only getting down to maybe 55 or 50 while we are out at dinner.