The Top of Europe
10.02.2013 -23 °C
Jungfraujoch is a vantage point 11,782 feet (3,571 metres) up in the Swiss Alps & is about a 2 hour drive South West of Zurich.
Jungfraujoch was always going to be a highlight of my few days visiting Zurich and I had been monitoring the weather forecast for the previous week trying to identify the best day to go. It is marketed as the "Top of Europe" and on the way up we were warned to be wary of altitude sickness by taking it slowly and keeping ourselves well hydrated & fed.
First stop was Interlaken where we were dropped for a 40 minute comfort break by some high value tourist shops (Swiss watches, designer handbags, etc); I was expecting blatant selling like that later in Thailand but not on the Swiss leg of my trip! Interlaken has some lovely Victorian hotels but is very touristy if thankfully quiet (like most of Switzerland) on a Sunday. The best bit of Interlaken was watching the paragliding down onto the Hohe-Matte Park in the centre of town from a ridge high above.
We then began our epic trip up the mountain on the historic cog railway (100 years old in 2012) to the highest railway station in Europe.
We had to change trains at Kleine Scheidegg which was a hive of activity with skiers scurrying everywhere carrying their skis and trying to get to the slopes. As our train continued up the Mountain the already spectacular views seemed to get better around every bend in the track.
Once we reached the top the views were awesome! Apparently on a clear day such as the one we were there you can see as far as Italy, France and Germany.
From the vantage point it was backdown into the mountain to make our way to the Glacier Plateau passing through ice tunnels and carvings of ice.
Venturing out onto the Glacier Ice Plateau it was bitterly cold, the gauge read minus 22 degrees Centigrade but the views of the mountains (Eiger - 13,026ft, Monch - 13,475ft and Jungfrau - 13,642ft) and the Glacier can only be described as awesome. The Aletsch Glacier that flows from Jungfraujoch is 14 miles (23 kilometres) long making it the longest glacier in Europe.
Having survived going out on the glacier ice plateau all that remained to do was to return to the train and make our way back down; 45 minutes mainly underground to Kleine Scheidegg and then to change trains to get down to Grund where our coach back to Zurich was waiting for us.