Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Switzerland 2016: Hiking from Schwarzwaldalp to Grindelwald

If you missed part one, you can see it here, or if you're catching up late and want to see all of my Switzerland posts in one place you can see them here. I'm SO excited to get into the hiking portion of our trip. I talked about in our first post, but we did a self-guided tour with Alpine Hikers. To start out this first leg, we took a train from Lucerne to Meiringen, then a bus up to Schwarzwaldalp. This part of the journey itself was stunning. At this point we'd only seen Lucerne, so we really had no idea what to expect. As the train wound up through the mountains, it got greener and greener. Almost shockingly green, really. Once we arrived in Meiringen the next bus up to Schwarzwaldalp was arriving quickly, so Hank grabbed an iced coffee from the corner store and we hopped on the bus and headed up. And I mean UP! I've never been on such windy roads, and this 45 minute bus ride was one of my favorite parts. The horn blaring out as the bus took the sharp corners, the views from the big windows, that feeling of anticipation not knowing what to expect when we arrived. There were cows on every hill, and as we climbed up the steep mountainside my stomach was jumping with excitement. As we pulled up the little inn seemed unreal- almost superimposed on the backdrop, the snowy peaks behind it and the greenest green we'd ever seen.

We got off the bus and walked into the front and were immediately greeted by the sweetest innkeeper, Melanie. She got us set in up our room, and we couldn't believe what a gorgeous view we had, right out our window! It's important to note here that this was our second night in Switzerland, and the night Hank officially decided he was on board with the Swiss way of making a bed. If you're unfamiliar, they have two mattresses and two duvets- basically two twins beds pushed together to make a full, with separate bedding. I'm a notorious cover stealer, so Hank was loving the separate blankets! haha! He swore we would implement once we got back home but it's been a couple of weeks and I think he's forgotten all about it. ;) 

Anyway, we got settled and decided to explore a bit before dinner. We took a walk down the hiking path we would take the next morning, and ran into a group of cows coming up the hill. We heard the bells first, then saw one, then two, then a whole bunch of them came down to the drink by the water, mooing all the way. It was awesome and we kept saying- "the boys would love this!"

After we walked around a bit we came in for dinner, which was included in our stay. One of the things I loved about our time in Switzerland, and especially staying in these small inns, was the level of pride and love put into every detail of hosting. The dinners were all so fantastic, and this was really our first taste of the amazing Swiss hospitality. This dinner was served in two course, shown below, and included a lot of different cheeses and delicious meat. We filled up in preparation of the next day's hike, and went to sleep with the window open, the cool air coming in through the windows and complete silence except for the occasional cowbell.

The next morning we woke up pumped for our first Swiss hike! We packed our bags, put our transfer tags on our luggage, and headed down to breakfast. Hank and I each had brought a small suitcase as our tour company Alpine Hikers had arranged for luggage transfers. It was such a treat having everything we needed, and then leaving it behind and going onto the next destination with just our backpacks. I will say though, that we quickly realized that we could have shared on small suitcase or maybe even skipped one all together and brought slightly bigger packs. Next time!

So we ate breakfast, said goodbye to our hosts...and waited out the weather for awhile. We'd been pretty lucky so far, but upon waking the fog was everywhere and it was raining pretty hard. Melanie let us know that the rain should pass around 10am, so we waited and sure enough, it did! We headed out on the most beautifully lush trail and couldn't help but ooh and ahh at every turn. There were the greenest rolling hills and the steep cliffs, wildflowers popping up, and snowy peaks. Looking back now I will be forever grateful to have had some "bad" weather that first hike. The fog and wetness made the views that much more dramatic and as all of our hiking went on later that week we wouldn't have another day like this again. It was truly magical and I couldn't help but feel like I was in some sort of fairyland for most of the early afternoon.

The rain picked up again about an hour into the hike, but we simply put our rain jackets on and covered our backpacks, and we were good to go. Our hosts at the inn had given us sandwiches for lunch, and we stopped at a bench in Grosse Scheidegg to eat them- and wow...I'm not sure if it was the rainy hiking or that they were just that good...but those sandwiches were life-changing! haha. I'm not even kidding. 

We continued on our way and soon began to see views of the Grindelwald basin and we realized we were getting close! It had been an 11 mile hike, with 2,750 feet gained, then 2,340 feet back down, so we were stoked. The rain had slowed to a drizzle and we made our way down through the winding roads to town. At one point there was a baby goat that wouldn't stop following us, and after an hour or so a Subaru pulled up and two young girls jumped out and wrangled it into the back! Hank and I were cracking up thinking about what a perfect Subaru commercial that would be. There were also little houses and huts on our way down, and every once in awhile we'd hear the bus' distinctive horn echoing through the hills, and I had to smile thinking of where we'd come from.

We entered the adorable town of Grindelwald, found our hotel, and got cozy for the night. I'll share photos from this part of the trip and our hike to Wengen next, so stay tuned!

ps. All photos and videos from Switzerland were taken with this camera and I can't recommend it enough. I'll share a post all about our hiking gear at the end of this series as well.


  1. Gah!!! I'm sitting here bawling.....Probably because I just watched the Rise video you posted to FB, or because I'm a lady in my 30s and it's Thursday, but this is transporting me to such great heights (thanks Iron and Wine)...You're capturing my favorite place with such reverence and it makes me so so so so happy to see it through your eyes!! I love you, your enthusiasm for adventure, and the way you've noticed each detail--Swiss sammies on a hard hike....BEST NUTRITION EVER!!! Love this so much!!! xoxox

  2. Thank you for this beautiful post! It caught my eye especially as my husband and I are taking our honeymoon to the exact same spot in a few short weeks! We can't wait. As I'm getting ready to pack, I'm wondering what gear/items of clothing you found essential? Any top recommendations? Thanks again for sharing your experience so beautifully.

  3. There's an article on Cup of Jo about the separate duvet thing! Check it out, the comments are interesting from people who have done that forever!

    - Sarah

  4. Your pictures are gorgeous!! I absolutely LOVE Switzerland!! xoxo

  5. Adorable pictures! I miss Switzerland a lot...Thanks for your amazing post.
    Greetings from Chile ;)