As many of you will already know, we at A Wandering Memory love a good adventure. So, whilst on a recent break to Switzerland (in the summer), the concept of catching a train up one of Europe’s highest mountains was just too enticing.
The train in question is the Jungfraujoch Railway which transports passengers up a number of passes and concludes next to the summit of Jungfrau Mountain 3,454ft. up in the Alps. When we first investigated we were horrified at the 230 Euros price tag, this wasn’t even from where we were staying in Lucerne! Further investigation we found that if we drove to Grindelwald which was a few miles up the pass from Interlaken it would reduce the cost to 184 Euros! That is still horrifying… less so than 204 but still. Initially we wrote off the idea as it was just too expensive.
Whilst in Interlaken a friendly Tourist Information representative informed us that the first two trains of the day run at a further discounted rate at a mere 135 Euros. Ok that is affordable… Only issue the first train is at 645am from Grindelwald, which is 30 minutes from Interlaken which was an hour from Lucerne. I feel an early morning coming on…
We awoke at 4am which I would not recommend to any holiday goer, however in this case the night sky was still, cooling and sublime. When our eyes adjusted the outline of the lake and the mountains were simply incredible.
The road however meandered through the mountains and in the pitch black it was something I wouldn’t repeat. We reached Grindelwald at 6.15 and were met by the train a little late at 7am.
The ascent up the ridge gave us a beautiful view of the stereotypical swiss landscape, rolling green hills and pastures as far as the eye can see. The number of isolated wooden lodges littering the hillside was truly magnificent. The ascent took us through a number of small stations and onto the spectacular Kleine Scheidegg just below the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountain peaks. This is a view I just can’t do justice to – it is over 2000 metres above sea level and provides unparalleled views of the Alps and the valley below. Kleine Scheidegg also houses a number of restaurants and an incredible remote hotel.
This is where we transferred trains onto the Jungfrau railway, a true marvel of modern engineering. Even though this journey is only nine kilometres it takes nearly an hour to reach its destination. Seven of the nine kilometres are actual through the mountain itself, with a number of stops on the way. In all honesty these stops simply give you a brief glimpse into what you will witness when at the summit.
The summit itself is a marvel, it’s a huge underground complex which houses a number of experiences both inside and out. In my opinion the true highlights are outside of the complex in the snowy climate, with the sphinx observation deck, snow plateau and ice getaway. All offer tremendous views of the largest glacier in the alps (14 miles long) – the Aletsch Glacier. Exiting the complex you get a real sense of how small we really are compared to the giants surrounding us. There is even the opportunity to play in the snow on rubber rings, sledges and even a hike to a small outpost – I thoroughly recommend taking your time and experiencing them all. We had a magnificent clear day and could see for miles – probably all the way to France and Germany.
Other highlights include an ice cave, entirely surrounded in ice, floor, ceiling and walls. An video show, a research centre, art exhibition, a number of restaurants and even the world’s highest Lindt chocolate shop.
I hope the imagery does it some sort of justice, as it really was incredible… Having hiked glaciers and skied/boarded some of the best mountains in the world these views really hold up as some of the most picturesque.
As we were so worried about the cost, I have to say that after having the experience and looking back on the memories it was worth every penny.
A real Swiss highlight!
We will be blogging more of our adventures in Switzerland and numerous other locations so stay tuned to A Wandering Memory today.