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7000ft Up: Why Grindelwald First Should Take a Top Spot on Your Travel Bucket List

Wandering around the Swiss Alps on my own wasn’t something I imagined as part of my solo travel around Europe. But what started as a two-day trip (with, as always, my pup in tow) that spurred from nothing more than a Harry Potter obsession, turned into the experience of a lifetime 7000ft up in the clouds. Here’s why visiting this picturesque place and making your way up to Grindelwald First should be at the top of your bucket list.

By: Natalie LaBarbera (@natalie.labarbera_)

Grindelwald is a mountainous town at the base of the Eiger with plenty to offer, no matter how you enjoy experiencing nature. After checking into the scenic Sunstar Hotel the evening I arrived, I took a walk around, quickly entranced with the fairytale German-style cottages, breathtaking views of mountaintops obscured in the clouds, and even some adorable lambs and alpacas grazing. I quickly realised, though, that I wouldn’t last long exploring without some fuel, and chose Bebbis’ restaurant for my first taste of the delicious Swiss staple, cheese fondue, which did not disappoint. After indulging, I went back to the hotel for a nightcap by the roaring fire before resting up, ready for the real fun to begin the next morning.

I was delighted to learn that, not only did my transportation card from the hotel get me a discount on the cable car up to Grindelwald First (in Switzerland most hotels give you a pass for free public transportation during your stay!), but my pup was allowed to join, too. I didn’t waste any time grabbing my ticket and jumping in a car. The lift up the towering mountain took around 25 minutes in total, which doesn’t sound like much until you’re dangling from the sky! After settling in my seat, though, it was impossible to keep my attention away from the sweeping views of the town below. The path even passed over a few natural waterfalls from the warming spring weather. And before I knew it, I was at the top.

To my pup’s dismay and my astonishment, there was still snow covering the ground of Grindelwald First, despite the mild 60-some degree weather in late April. The views at the highest point of this mountain are worth the trip up alone, but the activity that I was most eager to experience was the First Cliff Walk. I had no idea what to expect.

After heading over to the start, I cautiously lingered about trying to figure out exactly how long I would have to walk along this narrow path suspended from the mountainside before getting to the end. I had just made up my mind that it was a bit too unnerving and unpredictable and was halfway through turning around when I happened to strike up a conversation with a lovely couple that invited me to tag along with them. Gaining some confidence from my newfound friends, the three of us stepped beneath one of the jutting slabs of mountain rock and began the walk, which, in fact, only turned out to be about 10 minutes long.

Photos alone can’t possibly do this walk justice. Moving along the winding, cagey path, you can see the rocky terrain beneath your feet, sometimes just a few inches and other times a fear-inducing drop, below. Because the path is so close to the mountainside, you’re never quite sure what is coming next and how long you have left to go. But along the way, there are indescribably astonishing mountain views, and you might even spot some brave explorers flying through the air on gliders or ziplining amongst the snowy landscape. When taking some time to stop and admire the surroundings, you truly experience the vastness of the Alps. The mountains were larger and steeper than I had ever imagined me having the chance to be at the top of, and it is an experience that I’ll have memories of for a lifetime.

One of my favourite things about solo travel is making unexpected alliances, especially while doing something completely out of your comfort zone, and I’m so thankful that I did on this trip! After taking our time near the end of the First Cliff Walk appreciating the gorgeous views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains, with parachuters sailing through the skies and luscious green valleys below, and snapping some unforgettable photos along the way, we anxiously departed the metal path. Conveniently, it ended on a patio, that was perfect for snapping even more photos and soaking in the wondrous adventure of being atop the Alps. Here, you could also grab some snacks, a warm drink, and lunch to enjoy while sitting amongst the clouds, with the Swiss flag blowing in the constant breeze. When I planned this trip to Grindelwald, I didn’t set out expecting to find myself snacking and sipping espresso some 7000ft up, but it’s something I’ll always be happy to have checked off my ever-growing bucket list!

After some light souvenir shopping to prove my adventure, I finally hopped back on the cable car for the descent. This time, I was much more relaxed and took in as much of the scenery as possible, even witnessing some of the alpacas rolling around in the grass enjoying the sunny day. Hanging on to every second of the decline, I thought about how genuinely lucky I was to have been able to see a place as beautiful as Grindelwald First. Spending so much of my time in the bustle of city life, it’s easy to forget how inspiring nature can be. But being able to spend even a short amount of time in a small town built into the base of these stunning mountains left me feeling peaceful, refreshed, and at the same time, restless for my next adventure, ready for even more of what mother nature has to offer.

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