Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Brandon studies the map for todays adventure
We got up early and headed out - heading up Jungfraujoch today.
Jungfraujoch is home of Europe's highest train station, at 11,300 feet. The first half of the journey takes visitors up the Kleine Scheidegg, where you switch trains to head to the top. The train tracks were built more than 100 years ago. The second half of the ride takes you into a tunnel inside the Eiger mountain. The station at the top is located inside the Eiger mountain.
So, we drove up to the small town of Grund, parked and ate some sandwiches for breakfast while we waited for the train. You can catch the cog trains in several different towns, but the higher you drive, the less expensive the ride is. Believe me, higher is better. The lifts and cog trains in Switzerland can end up being half of your vacation budget if you are not careful. They are very expensive. This one cost 157 Swiss francs each, roundtrip. Brandon has a Swiss junior card, so he was free...thankfully. Since the Swiss franc is pretty equal to the dollar, you get the idea.
Anyway, we caught to next cog train up to Kleine.
The yard in Grund
The part of the trip took about an hour or less. It was very green with lots of pastures and trees.
The station at Kleine is located on a ridge and is a convergence for a couple different rail lines. We changed trains and headed up to the top.
Riding the cog up Jungfraujoch
A few various views of the mountain.
The clouds part to give us a small view of the mountain
KatEye View of the world
Arrival at the underground station inside the mountain
The first thing we did was visit the ice caves. I didn't expect much, or maybe I didn't know what to expect, but they turned out to be very 'cool'. We had a good time wandering through the different tunnels and chambers. One tunnel seemed a little small and narrow - it freaked me out a bit, which opened the floodgates of teasing from Katrina and Brandon.
Heading down the long tunnel to the chamber area
We found Scrat from the Ice Age
Brandon was too short to look through the window, so all you see are his gloves.
Next, we headed up to the plateau. Going outside was quite an experience - from warmy sunny skies and shorts in the valley to jackets, gloves, hoods and below zero temps on the plateau. The wind was so fierce you could hardly breath when facing into it. The skies were fairly clear though, so we were able to see Aletsch Glacier, Europe's longest at 11 miles.
I had to count to three so that they could turn around quickly into the wind.
Time to go back inside to warm up and fuel up. We had lunch then headed up to the Sphinx observatory. To get there you must go back into the station tunnels to the elevator, then take it up several stories through the mountian until you come out on top. There is a viewing deck around the observatory, as well as the worlds highest watch shop. Why, I don't know? This high point of the mountain was socked in by fog, so we didn't see much.
The sign tells us what we should be seeing
The snowy trees on a mountainside....no, its just the ice on the observatory windows. Katrina noticed this as we made our way back to the elevator.
Cows are almost sacred in Switzerland. They provide milk for drinking, cheese and chocolate.
We made our way back down the elevator and headed to the gift shop before taking the cog train back down the mountain. We try to look for Christmas tree ornaments wherever we visit and I try to collect memories from the railroads we visit.
The ride back down to Kleine was uneventful. Many people on the train slept. Once in Kleine we took a break to take photos and have some ice cream before catching the next cog down to Grund.
Does anyone remember the Swiss Cow Incident from our trip to Switzerland last August? This time we had a Swiss goat incident. After taking some pictures, Katrina and Brandon decided that ice cream sounded good. They were peacefully enjoying their ice cream when a Swiss goat made a beeline for Brandon. I think he sized up Brandon and thought he could get the ice cream. It was very funny. With no success, he then went after Katrina and would not leave her alone. After that, Brandon named that experience the Swiss Goat Incident.
Those eyes say it all, "I want your ice cream!"
Begging didn't work. I will try the ancient art of Swiss goat mind control
You are far superior to me, I bow before you.
We caught the next cog down to Grund, then headed back to our room. Katrina had a headache and wanted to take a nap. Brandon wanted to stay in the room as well. I headed out and walked around Interlaken a bit more, stopping at the model train store again to see if there was anything I missed.
Around 6pm Katrina sent me a text that they were ready to head out. Katrina wanted to take a few pictures of some old wood chalet homes in town, then have dinner. We ended up having a very tasty dinner at a Thai restaurant around the corner.
After dinner we walked back toward the main street of town, stopping at the park to let Brandon play for a bit. We also walked past the casino again so that Katrina could take more pictures.
After the sun set it was time to call it a day. Tomorrow we head to Lausanne in the French region of Switzerland.