Dream spot: First, Switzerland

First, Switzerland. Copyright of Ngaire Ackerley, 2011

First, Switzerland, one of my ‘happy places’.

Bite into that juicy red apple as you sit on the edge of a crystal blue, still and silent lake. Gaze across the lake as it drops off and snow-capped Swiss Alps stare back at you.

This is one of my ‘happy places’ that is etched into my memory from my journey through Switzerland a few years ago and I thought it was time to share one of my ‘happy places’ with my blog readers.

First, Switzerland. Copyright of Ngaire Ackerley 2013

Montreux, Switzerland. Copyright Ngaire Ackerley, 2011

Montreux, Switzerland

I’d previously been in Montreux, a lovely location on Lake Geneva. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when I saw how beautiful it was. As I walked back from the Chateau de Chillon along the lake, a lovely older Swiss couple told me it gets even better and they were right. A few days later the vantage point from First took my breath away.

First signage, Switzerland. Copyright Ngaire Ackerley 2013‘First’, in the Grindelwald region of Switzerland is a magical spot. The train took me through beautiful valleys from Lauterbrunnen to Grindelwald and then the cable car up to a lovely spot in the mountains. From there it was an easy hike up to ‘First’ with stunning mountains to stare at all along the way. From First you can gaze across Lake Bachalp and see the Upper and Lower Grindelwald Glacier, not to mention the four-thousand-meter mountain peaks such as the Finsteraar, Schreckhorn, Lauteraar and Fiescherhorn.

As I gazed out across this Swiss paradise, I couldn’t help but think this is probably very similar to the South Island of New Zealand – one day I’ll travel my own country and rave about its beauty.

Unfortunately I hadn’t left myself enough time in the day to trek further into the Alps, so I decided to take the ‘First Flyer’ down the mountains instead. This consisted of sitting in a harness and flying down a cable to the bottom of the mountain and the town of Grindelwald. It wasn’t quite the same thrill of hand-gliding that I’d done a few days before nearby in Interlaken. Yet, it was still a lot of fun as you fly past mountains, through valleys, in and out of the mist that was coming in and across farms with the cow bells ringing to remind you that you’re in the Swiss countryside.

Swiss Alps, near First. Copyright Ngaire Ackerley 2013

Jungfrau, Switzerland. Copyright Ngaire Ackelrey, 2013

Jungfrau, Switzerland.

This region is also home to the highest point in Europe – Jungfrau. I took a chance with the tricky weather and took the Jungfraujoch (train) up to the highest railway station in Europe – 3,454 meters above sea level! Sure enough I had less than an hour to marvel at the snowy top of Europe before fog came in and devoured the mountain.

I’ll definitely have this region on my ‘to-return-to’ list for some beautiful hiking in the future and hopefully some paragliding too!

If you would like to check out more of my photography from my Swiss expedition, check out my Switzerland gallery on designack.com »

For more information on First, check out the Swiss Tourism site here »