After our adventure on Mt. Titlis, we left Lucerne to travel by train to Grindelwald in the Jungfrau region. If you’ve been following my blog through Switzerland, it may seem as if we spent most of our time on trains. Believing train travel is the best way to see a country, we spent a lot of time gazing through train windows at the countryside as we traveled comfortably from place to place. Below are a few of the scenes we enjoyed en route from Lucerne to Grindelwald.
The trees with their shadows in the image below look to me more like a painting than a photo. I love the colors!
To get to Jungfrau by train, you must connect at Interlaken and many tourists reserve lodging there. Rick Steves, however, recommends lodging in the smaller villages nearby so I reserved two nights at Hotel Alpina in Grindelwald. It turned out his recommendation was Gimmelwald rather than Grindelwald but my reservation was non-refundable so we decided to make the best of my mistake. On the map below, note Interlaken circled in black at the bottom. Grindelwald is up and to the left; Gimmelwald is to the right. Jungfraujoch is at the top of the map and wherever you stay, you have to connect at Kleine Scheidegg to get to the Top of Europe. But more on that next time.
We arrived in Grindelwald around 4:30 in the afternoon. Our first impression was of a typical small ski town, surrounded by mountains and full of chalet-style hotels and high-end ski shops.
Although our chalet-style hotel was close to the train station, by the time we trudged up the hill with our luggage in tow, Jim was ready to rest his back. (If you haven’t read about Jim’s back fracture which occurred two days before our departure to Switzerland, be sure to read about it here.)
We were satisfied with our 3-star accommodations and delighted with the view for $170 per night.
After resting for awhile, we strolled through the village looking for a restaurant for dinner.
Fortunately, menus are posted outside because we quickly discovered prices were sky high in this village of fewer than 4000 inhabitants. Eventually, we settled on Bebbis where we paid $45 for an average meal that was worth about $25. The other $20 must have been for the view which, admittedly, was superlative.
I ordered the raclette, a traditional Swiss dish of cheese melted over potatoes with pearl onions, pickles, and bacon for $20.50. Jim had the wiener schnitzel priced at $24.50.
Although the decor was definitely kitschy, we got to see an alpenhorn up close for the first time. Historically, the wooden horn was used by cowherds to communicate with one another in the mountains, as well as to call the cows and calm the cows.
After a leisurely walk back to our hotel and a few twilight photos, we turned in early.
The following morning dawned with low hanging clouds and rain, weather not conducive to a trip to Jungfraujoch, the Top of Europe. That was actually a fortunate turn of events since Jim really needed a day of rest. He had fallen from the ladder and fractured his back just a week previously and we had kept a pretty good pace for the past 5 days. While Jim rested, I explored Grindelwald in the rain doing what I typically do when left to my own devices, I shopped. Or rather, I should say, I looked but didn’t buy because prices were extremely high. For example, the least expensive jacket I saw was priced around $300.
That evening, rather than spending so much on another mediocre meal, we bought local gruyere cheese, olives, wine, and a few other items to enjoy a repast in our hotel room for a fraction of the cost with a priceless view.
As we rested up, we hoped for suitable weather the next morning for our excursion to Jungfraujoch. After our Grindelwald interlude, or as Jim called it, our Grinderlude, we felt sure we’d be ready for the Top of Europe. Please check back to find out what happened.
Based on events from October 2017.
We also found that the train passes are the best way to get around both relaxing and seeing the sights. We bought the SwissSaver Pass. Ours was good for not only train, but bus, boat and cable car. We rode the circuit on the Lake Brienz at Interlaken and saw all the little stops. Then took the golden train back to Interlaken. I smiled when I read that you discovered the difference between Gimmelwald and Grindelwald. Most have never heard of Gimmelwald and think you are saying Grindelwald. We followed Rick Steves and stayed in the little hotel Mittaghorn in Gimmelwald. To get there from Interlaken involved a regional train to Lauterbrunnen, bus to Stechelberg and then a cable car up to Gimmelwald. My husband was white knuckles as he looked at the cables stretching 1500 feet up to the cliff top. I pointed to the swinging bridge to the right and said that is the alternative. He gulped and we got on the cable car! By end of week he was interested in paragliding off the edge (with assistance, of course) and floating the 30-45′ time down to Lauterbrunnen! The six room hotel was charming. As we were on the other side of gorge we went up to the the top of the Schilthorn. We still talk about our first “independent” trip as our best ever!