The breakfast was very simple, low-key, but good. However, it was far from the expected German fruhstuck. Much closer to the Italian “continental breakfast” of coffee, butter, and jam. One thing that we noticed is that the room rate was higher if booked from the hotel than on hotels.com. We checked out, load the car and left toward Interlaken on the highway.
To get on Jungfraujoch you take a set of trains. Ideally, in terms of time and money, it’s better to drive closer to the mountain and based on what we read in books we wanted to drive to Kleine Scheidegg but by accident we parked in Lauterbrunnen in a gigantic parking garage. We were sure that we are in KS and only after we bought tickets, first waiting in the wrong line for a local cabin, we found out when we got in the train that we are in Lautenberg, the ticket controller telling us that is one hour to KS….When we finally got in KS we found out that in reality you can drive there on dirt road and only with a permit, the furthest point where the car can be taken is the first train stop from Lautenberg that is Wengen.
The way to go to Jungfraujoch, explained convoluted in guidebooks is actually quite simple. There are separate trains that you change in Interklaken, Lautemberg, Kleine Scheidegg. From KS there are two trains in different directions, one continuing on a loop to Interlaken and another going up to Jungfraujoch. This last train after one short stops enter in an underground tunnel in which makes two 5 minutes stops for views and finishes underground also in Jungfraujoch, at 3565 meters. Quite a technological feat!
Obviously at this altitude and this slope all these trains are running on narrow gauge tracks with cogwheel.
The tickets are quite expensive to get all the way to the top but is worth every penny. Also, in Switzerland, kids travel free if accompanied by an adult, paying only a permit of CH30 for the year, I guess. The entire family ticket was CH394.
The train started to climb, first through pine and fir tree forest but right after Wengen the pastures started to show and the snow covered peak were stuck out in the window. There are several stops on the way where you can get off for a quick look and photo.
The white peaks were overwhelmingly beautiful and after one hour we stopped in KS, located right under the impressive Monch and Eiger peaks, to change for a different train. The train station in KS is a zoo, the restaurants on the platform being full with lots of groups, mainly Asians and Indians. The groups have reserved carriages so getting in the red trains that go on top is a challenge. However there are many trains running continuously so is no problem to find a seat. It is a show by itself to see the cogwheel red trains coming and going on the green pastures under the colossal peaks covered in snow that are almost falling on you. Finally we got on the train that stopped after about 5 minutes to the first stop and right after that entered an underground tunnel that was built all the way to the top. On the way it stopped in XXX and Eismeer, two window covered viewpoints built underground and it got out after about one hour at Jungfraujoch. When you get outside you cannot be impressed: you are surrounded by snow all over and on a clear day the view is magnificent. The Sphinx observatory platform was filled with groups, Japanese, Koreans, rich Russians sporting expensive jackets and East Europeans. The glacier at the bottom, Aletsch, is the largest in Europe and on its top there were organized lots of activities, sleds, floats, zing lines, etc. I left for a walk that can be taken for about 45 min-1 hour to Monsbach refuge right at the bottom of the Eiger. The place is a famous hangout for the climbers who come there prepared to climb the several peaks around in good weather. The walk was overall easy. The altitude may play some games on you but the views from the cabin towards Eiger and back to Jungfraujoch are worth all the effort.
We spent several good hours on top of the mountain and we did stay not longer only because we wanted to hike down some portion of the road. The line was long for the return train. The train did not stop anymore in the tunnel and when it did, right outside of it, we missed to get off and walk down to KS so we disembarked in KS and started to walk down to Wegenalp, the first station down where the views over the peaks are majestic. We wanted to hike down to Allehund!!!!!! But the time until the last train was too short so we decided to hang out looking at the mountains that you were feeling that they hang on your head. The train came at exactly 6:38 pm as scheduled and took us down the mountain in about half an hour. As if an alarm set to ring at the same time every day, the kids began their daily routine of whining for food. So we went directly to Steinbock restaurant right outside of the train station where we ate and had a beer right under the snow covered peaks of Jungfrau.
As usual we did not have a hotel reserved at that hour, close to 9 pm and the Steinbock was completely full so we started to drive back to Interlaken hoping to find something there, but on the way we stopped at a house that advertised “Zimmer” and the lady offered us two rooms for a great price, both for CH110, that included coffee but nothing else. We gladly took them and left for walk in Interlaken. The town is interesting but quite small but what surprises you is the large number of Arabs walking the streets. Like in Belgium the women are covered sometimes their faces being hidden completely. This is so prevalent that you may stop wondering why the Swiss voted against the mosque last year. The same thing I noticed in Luzern and no matter that we encounter this density every time when we come in European countries we cannot stop being surprised by the situation that you don’t see it so blatant in the USA.
Another group whose number is out of proportions is the Indians. Apparently because of the violence in Kashmir many of the Bollywood romantic scenes are shot in the Alps and lots of Indians related to this industry either live or work in the area.
We purchased some food for our breakfast, postcards, ask in a hotel’s lobby for the forecast that looked absolutely perfect for the next two days and we walked a couple of hours in the city returning to the rooms for a good night sleep.