Grindelwald was Tolkein’s inspiration for the Lord of the Rings’ landscape and the name of one of J. K. Rowling’s most notorious wizards. We all love a story with a touch of magic, and this Swiss village is right out of a fairytale.
The town itself is exactly how you’d picture a Disney-esque village in the mountains to be. There are so many gingerbread-house style chalets, that Hansel and Gretel wouldn’t know where to look. The hospitality here certainly puts their witch to shame though – the ovens here are full of warm, crispy rosti and cheese filled fondue pots.
As a food lover, I can confidently say that the cuisine is definitely one of the best things about Switzerland. Hearty meals of plates piled high with potatoes, meat and cheese are my idea of heaven. Plus, with action-packed days on the slopes, carb loading is a must – it’d be irresponsible not to fuel up, right? Try Hotel Eiger for traditional plates.
On the slopes, you have a mountain of eateries to choose from. The Aspen do a whopping burger which will definitely blow you away. It’s close enough to the mountain’s base to get to in the evening as well. Now, we’d never suggest that you have burgers for lunch and dinner, but we’re not condemning it either – just saying.
But even the Swiss get that sometimes it is possible to have too much cheese – that’s where C und M come in. They serve up their own home-cured salmon with rye bread and it. is. amazing. Here – whether cosied up in the wood-panelled interior or basking on the sun terrace – your grub comes with a perfect view of the Eiger mountain.
Anyway, enough about the food. Another thing the Swiss have in abundance is incredible scenery. The Matterhorn peak – the sharp pointy one – is breath-taking at dawn, dusk and in the Toblerone logo. The Eiger has the biggest north face in the Alpes, an imposing drop of rock and ice with its own dark history, however beautiful. The Swiss mountains are dramatic, iconic and all have their own story – ask a local to tell you the tale of the maiden, the monk and the ogre.
The best thing about these peaks though is flying down them, obviously. Not quite that confident on your ski legs yet? There’s a beginners area just for you. That means no show-offs fleeing past you and a whole slope to yourself to hone that technique. Speaking of which, the ski schools here are brilliant. The instructors are all local, know these mountains from base to peak and how to give you the skills to explore them yourself.
Intermediates: with 213km of wide, well-groomed runs to take on, this area really is your paradise. For veterans of the snow or those who love a challenge, the Men’s World Cup Downhill is a must-ski. The actual race is mid-January and the locals go all out setting themselves up on the slope across from the race’s big jump. I’m talking portable fondue sets, cakes and more – puts our pimms and sausage rolls on Murray Mount to shame.
If you prefer to move at a more leisurely pace, catch the cog railway which chugs up to the Jungfraujoch, the highest train station in Europe. It’s affectionately titled the “Top of the World” and once you’re there you can definitely see why. Thousands of people flock from all over the world to Instagram these views, so make sure you’re one of them.
So by now you’ll have gathered that I’m Switzerland’s No.1 fan and I hope I’ve yammered on about it enough for you to want to explore Grindelwald for yourself. If you aren’t quite there, here’s the cream on top of the strudel. Your journey there will be an adventure in itself – no waiting about on a coach full of people for this skier. You’ll hop off a plane at Geneva and aboard a train to the mountains, past pretty villages and sapphire blue lakes. Not only that, second class in these trains exceeds first class in ours – not hard – and they’re always bang on time. What’s that I hear you gasp? Yup, it may not be Switzerland‘s most glamorous attribute, but their punctuality is a pretty sweet one when you’re cruising off to the mountains quicker than you can say abracadabra.
Enjoy! I’m off for some of that home-cured salmon.