It was a long drive from Paris, heading south to the Swiss Alps, but not without the usual bus trip elements of:
- Sleeping in uncomfortable positions
- Word association games
- Running, jumping and climbing random structures every time we stop to stretch our legs.
Once we cross the border, the beauty of Switzerland’s countryside becomes immediately apparent. Everyone wakes up and we are constantly torn between which side of the bus to look out of, and the careful balance of taking photos but also enjoying the view!
We check-in to our hostel in Grindelwald and go out for a group dinner at the local restaurant full of excitement as we discuss our various adventures planned for the following day. There is so much to do here and even before we start we know that you could easily spend a week here just hiking/biking/exploring the area.
It’s now adventure day and I take the cable car from Grindelwald up to First. Today is what I bought that shiny new GoPro for, but before the adventure begins I explore around the top station and snap a few epic shots from the First Cliff Walk.
It’s only 9:30am and the zip line I’ve pre-purchased doesn’t open until 10am. A normal person would sit and enjoy the view, but anyone who has been keeping up with this blog knows that I’m no normal person. I see the shop attendant setting up various mountain bikes outside the shop so I spontaneously decide to hire a fattie (fat tire) MTB.
The shortest path I can take somewhere heads out to Lake Bachalpsee. It’s on the map as a hiking trail, 1h each way, but the shop attendant assures me you can ride it. She suggests it would take 30min each way…. It takes me 15 there and 10 back. A nice but random addition to my day, but now the adrenaline chase begins.
The most famous mountain in Switzerland’s Grindelwald area is Jungfrau, and the name-bearing tourist trap “Jungfraujoch” is advertised as the “Top of Europe”. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great spot to visit, and the cog railway that gets you there is quite impressive, but I’ve been there before which is why today I headed up the cable car to First, the “Top of Adventure”.
The first adventure activity I do is the zip line across the valley, called “First Flyer”. It’s a spectacular view but with the ropes and harness, my chest mounted GoPro footage wasn’t amazing. The zip line was fairly long and medium level fast, a great warm up!
Next up was the “First Glider”, which again is a kind of zip line, but you get clipped in with 3 others underneath a glider shaped like a bird’s wing, where you lie horizontally. You then get pulled up the line…fast- something in the order of 80km/h. Once at the top you glide back down, picking up a similar speed again. As you can see in the video below, this was a much bigger adrenaline rush than the first zip line, and I actually feel the need to hold on with my non-GoPro-holding hand more than once!
From Schreckfeld I get in a “mountain cart” to head down the hill to the next stop at Bort. The mountain cart is basically a trike with no pedals, just brakes and steering- think gravity powered go-cart. Sure this can be an all ages activity, but there is no one else on the track and I take it fairly fast. This more than satisfies my love of wheeled things on hills and by taking the corners at the speed I did, there was no lack of adrenaline!
Now I come to the last leg of my downhill adventure, from Bort back to where the cable car started this morning in Grindelwald. Enter the Trottibike, which I can best describe as the mountain bike version of a scooter. It’s got bike sized wheels, suspension, and of course disc brakes. I was expecting this leg to be moderately lame, but hey it’s a new kind of wheels I haven’t ridden before so why not. Boy was I wrong!
My fantastic Topdeck tour guide Benni spent the previous evening telling me how much I’ll love the Trottibike and warned me not to go *too* fast. He was right, these things are quick, and standing up on a scooter makes the lean you need into corners quite a lot more substantial while at the same time feeling precarious at best because there is no bike between your legs to “hold on” to. It really is just your feet on the middle of the scooter, hands holding the handlebars for dear life! It was a hoot, I got up to a max speed of 43km/h and enjoyed every second on this strange but lovable mutant bike scooter.
So that was First, but I’ve made plans for the afternoon to meet up with the Topdeck Fam at Kleine Scheidegg, halfway up the cog train to Jungfraujoch, where we change trains to head to Lauterbrunnen. After a short walk near Kleine Scheidegg, we’re on our way.
The point of Lauterbrunnen is to see the Staubbach waterfall, supposedly the holy grail of Instagram waterfalls. Walking up to it you’re like, yep- it’s a waterfall, but once we walk through a tunnel and follow a walk way cut into the cliff we can see why this is worth it. You end up under the waterfall itself and the view is amazing, a perfect spot for a 360 degree selfie. Take *that* boring flat Instagram!
It’s nearing the end of our day when once again most normal people would say “It’s been fun” and get on the next train home…. But not me. Thankfully a new friend Doug shares my crazy sense of adventure and we set off to walk home rather than catch the train. It’s a mere 17km away, but hey, it follows the train line so worst case we can take an exit and get the train the remainder of the trip.
As soon as we start, we realise that is not happening. This track is beautiful, following the river down the valley from Lauterbrunnen to Zweilütschinen then up the next valley to Grindelwald. We take a few seconds of video every time we see something nice, which is quite often, to make a montage of the walk.
Long story short, it was a beautiful way to explore the Swiss countryside and we make it back to the hostel by 7pm with enough time for a quick shower then out to dinner with the group at 7:30pm. Adventure day complete!