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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

Grindelwald, Switzerland

It started raining last night around midnight and it was still raining at 6 AM. We decided to change our plans for the day and go back to sleep until 8:30.

When we got up, this was our first sight when we looked out the window. Luckily, once we went down to breakfast, the weather improved. Yeah!! I could actually see very small patches of blue sky. More sun and sky appeared as the day went on. The sun warmed us up as the temps only reached 45 degrees.

Decided upon visiting Grindelwald today. We felt like eating fondue.

Grindelwald village is located at 3, 392 feet (1,034 meters) above sea level in the Bernese Alps.

The Eiger village of Grindelwald in the Bernese Oberland lies embedded in a welcoming and green hollow, surrounded by a commanding mountainscape with the Eiger north face and the Wetterhorn. This mountainscape and the numerous lookout points and activities make Grindelwald one of the most popular and cosmopolitan holiday and excursion destinations in Switzerland, and the largest ski resort in the Jungfrau region.

In 1146, King Conrad III granted estates in Grindelwald to Interlaken Monastery. In the late 12th century, the barons of the alpine valleys in what became the Berner Oberland went to war against the expansionist Duke Berthold V of Zähringen. The Duke defeated a coalition of nobles in the Grindlewald valley in 1191. His victory allowed him to expand Zähringen power into the Oberland, to expand the city of Thun and found the city of Bern. Beginning in the 13th century, Interlaken Monastery began to purchase rights and land in Grindelwald and eventually forced the local nobles out of the valley. The Monastery continued to exert influence in the village and in 1315 and again in 1332 ordered the villagers to raid Unterwalden to further the political ambitions of the Abbot's patrons. In response to the raids, in 1342, Unterwalden attacked Grindelwald. A few years later, in 1348–49, the villagers joined in an unsuccessful rebellion against ecclesiastical power. In 1528, the city of Bern adopted the Protestant Reformation and proceeded to spread the new faith in Grindelwald against the populations' wishes. Berne was able to impose its will, converted the village and secularized Interlaken Abbey and the Abbey's lands. Grindelwald became part of the bailiwick of Interlaken, under a Bernese bailiff.

The first village church was a wooden building from the mid-12th century. The wooden building was replaced with the stone St. Mary's Church in 1180. This church was replaced in the 16th century, and the present church was built in 1793.

The tourism industry began in Grindelwald in the late 18th century as foreigners discovered the scenic town. Pictures of the vistas were widely reprinted, quickly making the village internationally famous. In the 19th century many Englishmen came to the village to climb the alpine peaks around the valley. The Finsteraarhorn 14,022 feet (4,274 meters), the Wetterhorn 12,113 feet (3,692 meters), the Eiger 13,015 feet (3,967 meters), the Schreckhorn 13,379 feet (4,078 meters) and the Gross Fiescherhorn 13,284 feet (4,049 meters) were all climbed during the 19th century. The Grindelwald road was built in 1860–72, and the Bernese Oberland railway reached the village in 1890, both of which transformed an arduous journey into a simple trip and allowed tourists to flood into the village.

The Wetterhorn

The Eiger

I have taken a picture of the Schreckhorn for years. I sit in the same spot on a bench. It is very close to the church. It is interesting to see how the snow levels change from year to year. I also like to compare the height of the drifts.

The first resort opened in 1888, there were 10 hotels in 1889, and by 1914 there were 33 in Grindelwald.

Whenever Michael and I are in Grindelwald, we like to eat at the Bistro Memory at the Eiger Hotel.

We had Peter's homemade cheese fondue with fresh Swiss Alpine herbs. Their fondue is served with bread and potatoes. Delicious as always!!!

Naturally, we had a bottle of Fendant to help with the cheese.

This goes so well with cheese!

All the surrounding mountaintops were snow capped.

A rack railway was built to Kleine Scheidegg in 1893, and it was expanded to the Jungfraujoch in 1912. Numerous ski lifts, cable cars, hiking trails and alpine huts were built in the late 19th and 20th centuries to allow tourists to explore the mountains. Today, almost the entire economy of Grindelwald is based on tourism.

Grindelwald attracted its first guests – primarily the English – from the end of the 18th century on wards. The actual breakthrough of Alpinism occurred in the mid 19th century, and local mountain guides climbed the peaks of the region with English tourists. The first ascent of the Eiger, the most difficult of Alpine mountains took place in 1858 (the north face only in 1938). Road and railway construction made Grindelwald much more accessible towards the end of the 19th century, which in turn also heralded the onset of winter tourism. The first cableway in the Alps was built here in 1908 on the Wetterhorn. And in 1912, a railway reached the Jungfraujoch via Kleine Scheidegg; today the "Top of Europe" still remains Europe’s highest railway station and a world-renowned excursion destination within permanent snow and ice.

There are 300 kilometers of walking trails around Grindelwald. The high-altitude walk from Grindelwald-First along the Bachalpsee to the Faulhorn mountain hotel and then on to the Schynige Platte ranks among the most beautiful hikes of the region. An easy walk with fantastic views of the three, world-famous mountains of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau leads from the Männlichen up onto the Kleine Scheidegg.

Between 1981 and 2010, Grindelwald had an average of 145.4 days of rain or snow per year and on average received 57 inches (1,450 mm) of precipitation. The wettest month was August during which time Grindelwald received an average of 6.5 inches (165 mm ) of rain or snow. During this month there was precipitation for an average of 14.4 days. The month with the most days of precipitation was June, with an average of 14.8, but with only 5.9 inches (151 mm ) of rain or snow. The driest month of the year was February with an average of 3.5 inches (89 mm) of precipitation over 9.7 days.

Long famed as a winter tourist destination with slopes for beginners, intermediates and the challenges of the Eiger glacier for the experienced, there are activities for the non-skiers, from tobogganing to groomed winter hiking tracks. It is the usual starting point for ascents of the Eiger and the Wetterhorn.

Nowadays Grindelwald is also a popular summer activity resort with many miles of hiking trails across the Alps.

The first person to ski there was Englishman, Gerald Fox (who lived at Tone Dale House) who put his skis on in his hotel bedroom in 1881 and walked out through the hotel bar to the slopes wearing them.

Boss Chrigel has been honored with a bench and a wood carving..

Many wood carving can be seen around town.

This establishment has an interesting sign.

The church was closed for renovations. Below the church is the cemetery.

Michael and I always make it a point to visit this cemetery. What a magnificent view for those resting in peace here! The graves are adorned with flowers. It is also a meeting people for people whom have lost loved ones. Benches are placed throughout the cemetery.

These were climbers whom died on the mountains.

The headstones tell stories of the person whom has passed.

This person enjoyed swingen.

I walked around the cemetery praying for people.

Michael and I were surrounded by beauty, peace, stillness and calm. The only sound was the wind softly rustling through the trees. What a beautiful experience!! If I had to pick some of my favorite places in the world, this would be one of them. Michael and I talked about this today. I actually had tears in my eyes. How much closer can you get to God than this?

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