Sunday, 8 July 2007

Switzerland

This post covers our train journey to the highest train station in Europe, Jungfraujoch.

On Saturday morning we left Freiburg and headed south on the motorway to Switzerland. We bought a Swiss motorways vignette (a sticker you put on your windshield) that allowed us to drive faster to our destination, Interlaken, than on the normal roads. Almost as soon as we crossed the border we had views of wooded hills and Alpine meadows and far in the distance, snow-capped mountains.
Left: Us at the top!

Sarah picked out a campsite from one of our books which went by the name of Sackgut Camping, not the most alluring of names, but as it turns out it is in a great location on the river and opposite the Interlaken Ost train station. All excursions from Interlaken into the mountains start from here. The campsite was a bit more expensive than ones in France or Germany at 40CHF / €30 and we quickly came across a problem we hadn’t expected. Swiss electrical sockets vary slightly from standard European ones and unless you have an adaptor, no electricity! We went to try and buy one but couldn’t, so in the end we got a refund for the electric charges and the fridge is running on gas.

Today we got up at 5.15am and left for the station at 6am. We are not used to these early starts! Our destination was Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe, a train journey to the highest train station in Europe, some 3454 metres above sea level. Starting from Interlaken we took the train to Lauterbrunnen where you change trains for Kleine Scheidegg and then change again for the Jungfraujoch. This last part of the journey is mostly in a tunnel drilled through the mountain. The train stops twice so passengers can walk through a passage to a window where you can admire the view through windows. At this stage we started to feel the cold! The train continued upwards, arriving at a station inside the mountain at 8.46am.
Above left: The Sphinx
Left: Changing trains

From here we took the lift to the Sphinx observatory which had fantastic views of the mountain range which at this altitude is covered in ice and snow year round. It was 0 degrees Celsius but felt quite warm with the sun, until the wind started blowing! The sky was deep blue and there were only a few clouds about.

Next stop was the Ice Palace which is carved out of solid ice and has ice statues including penguins, bears and Eskimos. We then went out to the summit and walked around on the snow taking photos. We wanted to do a husky sleigh ride but unfortunately the snow was too soft and they weren’t running today. They did bring two of the huskies out for people to admire though! We had one go each at using a sledge down a hill but didn’t have the energy to do it again as you have to walk back up the hill. Breathing is harder at this altitude!

The journey takes a different route back to Interlaken, coming back through Grindewald where you can take a cable car up a different mountain. By this time the weather had turned overcast and clouds enveloped the mountain peaks. Looks like we were very lucky with the weather! The journey wasn’t cheap at £75 each, but we enjoyed our day immensely.





Above: View from the Sphinx
Below left: Husky!
Below right: The summit


1 comment:

Big sis said...

Oh my god!!! Breathtaking photos and that husky is gorgeous!!!! You need to get used to early starts again for when you return to the real world and the joys of work. Keep up the good work. Love you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx