As the train pulled into the valley in Grindewald, we were awestruck. After 6 weeks of mostly cities and towns it felt like coming home, to see the mountains, the trees, and all the green. We were all almost giddy as we walked to find our AirBNB.
Switzerland is one breathtaking view after another and I couldn’t stop taking pictures! Not only is the landscape gorgeous, but the houses are so quaint, the food is good, and they have so many amazing playgrounds!
Overall, Switzerland has been my favorite place so far (although I usually feel like wherever I am is my favorite place at the time) and probably the kids too. Everyone just seemed so happy there. We are outdoors people and being able to be out in nature again really rejuvenated us.
While being back in nature was very relaxing, we had some experiences that really made our hair stand on end too! Literally. These were sometimes nerve racking and sometimes exhilarating. So, here is my list of the 10 hair-raising experiences we had while visiting Switzerland in order from the least to the most.
10. The Prices
Switzerland was so absolutely gorgeous. I told Jeromy that I thought maybe we should have made our month stay there instead of Greece, but when we saw the prices we payed for dinner, transportation and lodging, I realized that we would probably have to cut our trip short if we stayed a whole month here if we wanted to stay within our budget. The prices were probably similar to Norway, but we had gotten used to the lower prices in the rest of Europe so every time Jeromy got the bill for dinner, it was a hair-raising experience for him. 😀
9. Almost Dyeing A Whole Load of Laundry Blue
This one is a little embarrassing, but when you are navigating your way through the world using products you don’t recognize, you’re likely going to have a few mix-ups along the way. This hair-raising experience for me was when I did laundry at our apartment. The host for our house said there were laundry capsules in the cabinet in the bathroom that we could use. Great! We had some concentrated liquid soap we brought, but this was better so we could conserve that precious commodity. When I went to the cabinet and opened it up, I saw a few bottles of some kind of cleaning supplies and there were some blue capsules. I tried to read the box, but it was all in German. They definitely looked different than the usual ones we would use, but we were in Switzerland so that’s probably how they make them here, right? WRONG!
I threw the capsule in, started up the washer and walked away. A little while later when the cycle had completed (they have machines here that wash the clothes and then dry them too) I took them out to fold them. When I opened the door I was sick! Anything that had been any color but black had turned a DARK shade of Royal blue. Oh no! These were the clothes that were supposed to last us for the next 10 months and I’ve turned a whole load of them blue! Not only were they washed that way, but they were dried that way too! I grabbed the first thing I saw and quickly ran in under water hoping it would rinse out even a little bit. To my delight, the blue washed out very easily! I am not one of those people who has a huge mess and takes a picture. Like, if you’re the kind of person that when your baby spills nail polish all over and you pause to take a picture, you are much more relaxed than I am. So by the time I took a picture, the last thing was almost rinsed out, but believe me, they were bright blue.
So what was this mystery capsule you ask? Were you able to guess better than I did from the picture above? Upon further inspection I realized that I had put toilet bowl cleaner in my washer and there was another cabinet I didn’t notice in the bathroom with, what were clearly, laundry capsules. Fortunately, it wasn’t a lasting problem, but for a few minutes there, I was pretty freaked out.
8. Going On Hikes
There were endless hikes to take while we were there. They were amazing with incredible views, but with incredible views often come incredibly high cliffs! The boys kept us on our toes climbing up rocks and over canyons. It was so much fun, but a little hair-raising as well.
7. Riding Up Gondolas and Cable Cars of All Shapes and Sizes
Grindelwald is basically a valley surrounded by huge mountains with a variety of options for getting up them to hike in the summer and ski in the winter. We bought a 3 day pass to go on all of them (I would suggest this if you come) because there were different activities depending on which ones you went up. While this was mostly fun, it can still be a little hair-raising especially with a 6 year old.
6. Riding Trotter Bikes Down The Mountain
Luke wasn’t old enough so Jeromy took Parker and Tyler on this hair-raising adventure. This looks simple enough, just riding scooters down a path. Apparently, it was a really steep path! I think it was good. I wasn’t there, or this may have made it higher on the list. Jeromy said it was pretty intense and Tyler isn’t one to do things half speed so there were a few close calls!
5. Getting Rammed On a Toboggan (Alpine Slide)
Our first day there we headed up first thing to the toboggan, or what we would call an alpine slide. It was a lot of fun, but on one of our runs down, as happens sometimes, someone in front of me was going super slow. We waited as long as we could before starting, but we still caught up to them. So we put our brakes on and had to stop in the track for them to keep moving. As we were sitting there, I could hear the person behind me coming down and rounding the corner. There was plenty of time for them to stop if they were paying attention. The operative word there is “if” they were paying attention. It was young kid, probably about 10 years old, and he wasn’t paying attention at all. He was actually using his foot to push down the lever that makes you go…and makes you stop. I sat there and watched him come hurtling toward me and Luke and at the last minute seeing us, but not being able to do anything. He rammed into us hard and went flying off his toboggan and into the grass off the track! In typical kid fashion he hopped up quickly and got back on, but I am pretty sure if that was me they would have had to take me off on a stretcher! As it was, I was sore the next day from getting rammed (I think that means I’m getting old!).
4. Walking Along The Cliff Walk And Looking Out At The End
This was an awesome thing at the top of The First gondola. They’ve attached a metal walkway to the edge of a cliff that you traverse until you walk out on a glass platform that hangs over the valley below. I’m not scared of heights, but walking on things like this with my kids adds a whole other level of anxiety. The boys were not phased by it though, and made it out easily to the edge of the cliff walk. It made for some pretty spectacular pictures!
3. Going Paragliding
This is a bucket-list thing for me so when we saw we could go paragliding in Switzerland, I knew Jeromy and I were going to sign up. I was nervous before hand, but as my guide clipped me in I was holding it together pretty good waiting for the instructions. Well, there weren’t really any instructions. All of the sudden he just said something like, “Ok, we are going to start running forward and I just want you to keep leaning forward until we’re in the air. Ok. Go!” And all of the sudden we were running and then we were flying! Once you get in the air it is really pretty relaxing and peaceful. I can’t imagine there is anywhere in the world with a better view!
2. Watching Parker and Tyler Go Paragliding
At first, I never really intended for the boys to go paragliding. It didn’t even occur to me as an option. Surely they would need to be 18 I thought, but when I went up to ask them about Jeromy and I going, Tyler and Luke happened to be with me. When I asked about it, the worker at the ticket counter said, “You know they need to be at least 10 to go.” Immediately Tyler was jumping up and down saying “We only have to be 10!” “We can go…We can go!!” I told him that just because he could go didn’t mean he would be allowed to go. That lady didn’t know what she started!
Well, Jeromy and I talked about it and talked to the people we would be going tandem with and found that they were really experienced and so, decided to let them have this epic experience! They weren’t nervous at all, just incredibly excited. Parker stayed up most the night in anticipation, so you can imagine their disappointment when we got to the meeting place the next morning and the weather was too bad to go. We had to cancel and reschedule for later in the day, hoping the weather would clear. We were leaving early the next morning so our only hope was this day and even worse weather was supposed to be coming in the afternoon. The boys were devastated, but tried to be hopeful. While I was sad for them, I was glad they took the weather seriously enough to not risk my children’s lives. We went home praying for better weather in the afternoon and fortunately, defying the norms (according to our pilot), the weather cleared in the afternoon and we were able to go!
The closer we got, the more nervous I got about them going, but they weren’t nervous at all! They ran off the edge of the cliff and had the time of their lives! Parker’s instructor even let him steer for awhile. This will definitely be a highlight of not only this year, but their lives!
And the #1 most hair raising experience and the reason for the name of this post was…almost getting struck by lightning!
I am not exaggerating here! We rode The First gondola up, did The Cliff Walk then hiked up the mountain to Lake Bachalpsee. As we sat up by the lake eating our Swiss chocolate, we could see the rain clouds rolling in and got up to head back.
As we were walking quickly back, Parker turned his ankle jumping off a rock. Since we were going to be slow going and the rain was starting, Jeromy and Tyler ran ahead and Parker, Luke, and I walked more slowly back. As we walked in the rain with Parker limping along next to us, he suddenly said, “Mom, your hair is standing up!” What is he talking about I was thinking, is my hair a mess? I reached to feel it and realized that my hair was standing on end, just like when you put your hands on those neon glowing balls at OMSI. What?! This can’t be good. We start to hear thunder and the rain picked up. We wer walking faster, but Parker could really only go so fast. Pretty soon, Parker’s hair was standing up all over too! I was freaked out! I was going to get struck by lightning! The only solace I had was that I was taller than Parker and Luke so if lightning struck it was hopefully coming for me and not them. I made Luke stop holding my hand and walk a ways away from me. Soon I started feel my skin start to tingle. It literally felt like electricity was coursing through my body. We said a prayer, not the kneeling down kind of prayer, the going as fast as you can and praying as you limp/run kind of prayer.
No one else was really around except the cows, and as we looked around, we saw the cows, who were sitting around lazily eating grass on our hike up, running full speed for lower ground.
Once we saw the cows running and our hair standing up taller and taller, we started running as fast as we could. The adrenaline helped Parker’s ankle not hurt quite as badly and we were able to go much faster. I don’t know if I have ever been more relieved in my life, as when we finally made it under the cover of the gondola station!
As we waited out the storm under cover, we looked up exactly what your hair standing on end means in a storm and you live to tell about it. Here are a few quotes of what we read, “A lightning strike is imminent.” “Be glad your alive,” “You just missed getting struck.” “You just missed death. When your hair stands up on end like that it means that you have just became a negative charge and there is a positive charge in the clouds ready to connect with you.” Yikes! I thought it was something like that, but to read it in black and white made it really hit home!
The bright side of this hair-raising experience was that we had a fabulous opportunity to “Road School”. That night we answered questions like, what causes lightning? What to do when you are in a thunderstorm? And how to survive a lightning strike? (Prayer and running weren’t on the list)
Overall, Switzerland was a highlight for us and we were sad to leave. We knew we had more exciting adventures ahead though, so we grabbed our bags and headed to the train for more adventure and probably some more hair-raising experiences ahead (but hopefully not the literal kind).