Train on the way back from the “Top of the World”
Other then cuckoo clocks, Toblerone and world class efficiency I had no solid preconceptions about what to expect of Switzerland. Looking for somewhere to go for a short break in October last year I researched the area on the internet, however, nothing could have prepared me for the breathtaking beauty of the Jungfrau region and the sights and experiences it has to offer.
We arrived in Geneva via a short Easyjet flight from Liverpool. Once we had picked up our bags from the carousel we made our way to the train station and purchased our rail tickets to Interlaken. Children under 6 travel free on the Swiss Rail network although this doesn’t make the £100 one way adult fare any more palatable.
After the two hour journey to Bern we changed trains for the 45 minute hop to Interlaken we found ourselves standing at Interlaken West rail station bags in hand and ready for the hotel and food.
As an aside whilst the train tickets may have been expensive they arrived and left each station on time and were very clean.
The train station in Interlaken
Surprisingly, it was warmer in Interlaken than it was back home and we suddenly wondered whether the winter coats we came armed with would get much use. After a 5 minute walk down the main street we found ourselves at our chosen hotel and before long checked in and tucking into a family sized lasagne and salad at the hotel’s restaurant.
After a short stroll to walk some of the food off we were back to our simple and clean room at the hotel to get some rest in preparation for our early start the next morning to go and venture to the “Top of the Europe”: Jungfraujoch.
We awoke the next morning to ominous low cloud on the surrounding mountains – at least we assumed there was a mountain range behind the clouds as we had seen nothing having a arrived in the dark the previous night. Mountain weather is infamously changeable over a short period and we set hoping that the cloud would lift and we would be presented with a spectacular vista.
The hotel and restaurant in Interlaken
Having bought our tickets we tentatively boarded the first train that would take us to Grindelwald where we would have to change for the next leg of the three part journey to the “Top of Europe”. Still the clouds clung to the surrounding mountains frustratingly obscuring our view.
Before long we were on the next part of our journey and slowly but surely chinks of blue were staring to appear above us . As we climbed it became brighter and brighter until eventually we arrived at Kleine Scheidigge station through the cloud and looking up at the Eiger in all it’s breathtaking glory. By this time you could see back down the mountain and into the valley with a huge layer of cloud sitting above Interlaken.
Above us towered the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. The story goes that the Monk (Monch) is protecting the Young Girl (Jungfrau) from the Ogre (Eiger)
Breathtaking view from Kleine Scheidegg
So, it was back on the train. After a couple of stops along the track to take in the glacial vistas in all their glory we found ourselves at the top of the Jungfrau.
What struck me first was what I huge complex of buildings we were in. There is an ice palace carved into the glacier, a number of restaurants, several viewing platforms, etc.
It was hard at times to get a proper perspective on how high we were. When looking back down the mountain all you could see were, well, mountains as far as the eye could see. Then you made out a tiny reflective speck in the distance and realised that it was a town or village you were looking at which brought some perspective to the lofty perch you were standing on.
I can only liken it to the Grand Canyon where what surrounds you is such an immense scale that you struggle to take it all in.
We spent the next couple of days almost permanently on the trains and cable cars that criss cross the area assuming that the views couldn’t get any better. They invariably did.
The downsides? Just the one: price. It is, like the rest of Switzerland, extremely expensive but, as a once (or maybe twice) in a lifetime destination it is a bargain.