Friday, 22 August 2008

Top of Europe

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Well close enough to the top...  The mountain railway journey from Interlaken (568m) to Jungfraujoch (3,454m) was always at the top of our list of must do's in Switzerland. 

Ange had done this trip some 20 years ago but the weather conditions were  abysmal so she did not see that much. I was travelling on a cheaper budget and had opted for the Grindelwald gondola to get a cheaper view of the mountains.

Now in 2008 the Biscuit bunch were back and determined to time it just right with the weather.  The weather report looked good although conditions can change very fast at high altitude and we decided to cross our fingers and go for it.  The tickets are certainly not cheap at around €110 each for adults, thankfully kids travel for free (which is just as well otherwise we would have had to sell one of them to pay for the tickets for the other two).

The weather held and we took in some great views (and got a few good pictures at the same time).

At 4158m the Jungfrau is one of Europe's highest mountains, a little bigger than our Mount Cook which stands at 3754m.  The railway journey up to Jungfraujoch was nothing short of magnificent, just when you think you have seen the last village another pops up around the corner.  It is also great seeing the old houses dotted around the mountain side with no road or track in sight.

I just can't get over how someone came up with the idea to tunnel up behind the rock face of the Eiger. 

Here is the sales pitch from the Swiss rail web site web site - I'm too lazy to rewrite it..

This unique round-trip by modern cogwheel railway takes you first to Kleine Scheidegg, altitude 2061 metres, at the foot of the notorious Eiger North Wall. From here the Jungfrau Railway climbs to the station at Eigergletscher , well known for its mountain restaurant and polar dog kennels.

The trip continues through the Eiger tunnel to the stations at Eigerwand and Eismeer, with a five minute halt at each. Enjoy spectacular sightseeing through large observation windows hewn from solid Alpine rock.

And then the arrival on the Jungfraujoch, in the heart of a glorious glacier world on the very roof of Europe! Superb views extend as far as the summits of the Vosges Mountains in France and the Black Forest in Germany. The Great Aletsch Glacier, at 22 km the longest ice-stream in the Alps, begins on the Jungfraujoch-Top of Europe.

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