What a success has been the . The priceless prices of hotels and alternative accommodations on these festive dates (here is the biggest Swiss New Year's Eve party - less traditional - yesterday continued and today is the Harder Posteche) led us to find life to find for a more price What an affordable place in a quiet street, with free WIFI, excellently located and warm. Without a doubt, although we will talk about it, we recommend it as a base here. Meanwhile, the Early morning today has been important to get on the second train that goes up from the Interlaken OST ...
Interlaken (1)In addition to being the intersection point of two lakes, it is the base of a natural paradise of snowy mountains such as Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau, and all the villages, winter activities that congregate. Our goal is the Top Of Europe, and for that At least 3 transfers are required. You can go / come indistinctly through the villages of Grindelwald or Lutterbrunenn, then reach Kleine Scheidegg from where you can catch the last train rack to Jungfraujoch.
Grindelwald, the mountain town we dream of
And why this early bird? In the first place because we wanted to avoid all the people with skis and the tens ... mmm no ... hundreds of Koreans and Japanese who visit this place, and in fact we got it and throughout the day we had no problem with the trains.SPANISH TOURS FOR THE MOST ORGANIZED:
Although we always give you all the information to organize the trip on your own, if you have little time or prefer to forget about preparations, you have the following option COMPLETELY IN SPANISH and with VERY GOOD OPINIONS from other travelers. It includes departure from Zurich with a stop in Lucerne to continue to Interlaken and Grindelwald, like nosotross where the zipper train is taken to the Top of Europe
Jungfraujoch excursion from Zurich
The second because we are facing one of the most expensive visits we have ever made on any trip, and we wanted to take advantage of stopping in some town of those that we all dream of sometime, with its wooden houses in the form of A and the chimney working, and completely snowy framed in any valley or mountain.
This is !! Grindelwald (2) !!, where we arrive in 35 minutes from Interlaken and it is still at 1,034 m above sea level (Interlaken at 567 m) but it is already completely snowy, and although it has grown a lot with the tourism business, full of hotels and restaurants, It has that charm that we imagine in our dreams.
In fact, and we have commented all day, we would not mind spending a few days here some winter, in our small shelter with fireplace, without TV or internet or possible connection with the outside. A place of absolute disconnection ... although it will have to be another time. Today we took the opportunity to walk through it, and hit a good hot breakfast near the train station (23 CHF)
Here we have also understood the reason for Swiss prices (in fact, today's train journeys are worth 198 CHF per person, although we do not put them into the expenses of the day but to transport the final summary) since we have found a Spanish woman who I worked at a hotel in Mallorca, which has been living an experience in Grindelwald for 1 year. In general she is happy, although she missed the food a lot. He has told us that the MINIMUM salary of an employee of the LIDL SUPERMARKETS, for example, is CHF 4000 per month, that a study can be worth around CHF 700 and a CHF 1,200 floor, and that the lowest paid positions (always quite good) are Hospitality and agriculture. What do you think?
We have also taken the EDEMOX, that pill for altitude sickness that we discovered in Peru and that works like a charm (here you have the story in which we explain it on that trip) while we begin to climb the mountain to our next stop.
Although if we had to decide again how to do it we would repeat it like this (climb up Grindelwald and return through Lauterbrunnen for the wonder of places on this descent), at this time of day we go with the mouth open of the natural spectacle that surrounds us (NOTE: Initially the train that leaves goes in reverse, and later in the first station changes direction. Taking this into account, the best place to locate at the time of climbing it is "back to the direction of departure" and in the left window, which becomes to go in the "right direction" and to the right in the ascent from the first station)
Ski resorts, chairlift equipment, snowy wooden houses, trees dressed in "winter", ... congregate in every corner of the mountain while we overcome great slopes thanks to the zipper of this wonder of red trains that transport us.
The temperature has dropped from 4-5ºC when we leave Interlaken, and in our arrival in Kleine Scheiddeg (3), about 35 minutes also and already 2,060 m, we are just at 0ºC. Here we only change trains and we are ready to make the last section, which takes us to our destination.
Jungfraujoch, Top of Europe
In case the landscape has not been enough, from these moments we embark on a journey through a constructive work of a century ago with which we can do nothing but open our mouths even more. The journey that separates Kleine Scheidegg from Jungfraujoch begins with a stop at Elgergletscher that brings us nothing, but from there we enter a steep tunnel in the 7.3 km mountain, as if it were a worm that eats an apple, which accesses to the very underground station that opened in 1912.
The first stop is made in Eigerwand (4), at 2,865 m high, where you can see the whole valley but we realize that a good snow storm is coming to welcome us
The Eiger, a mountain that we cross, is part of the Bernese Alps of Switzerland as a World Heritage Site, along with Junfrau, Aletsch and Bietschhom in 2001. Still today its most vertical face we see from here is a challenge for risky professional climbers.
After 5 minutes, the train makes a warning call for us to return and continues the march. The next point is at 3,158 m and his name is Eismer (5) that means "sea of ice" and that turns out to be a viewpoint just above one of those glaciers that survive global warming and that leaves a really overwhelming images.
The ten minutes serve to reach the goal of the excursion. !! We are in Jungfraujoch (6), the Top of Europe !!, a dream that took 18 years of rock excavation and today represents an icon in the Swiss country. We had taken, 1 hour visit included in Grindelwald, about 3 hours and 15 to reach it.
Visiting it, like everything in Switzerland, is simple ...! Just follow the blue arrows that puts "Tour"! and what's happening to you different attractions of the complex from the central platform that locates three floors of restaurants, bar and shop, in addition to the station.
If we remember correctly, it must be like 8 points that the itinerary is marking, the first being a 360º stage which shows in an enveloping environment some aerial views of the mountains in which we find ourselves.
However, our illusion brings us to the first elevator observation platform, the Sphinx (J1), where although Jungfrauoch is considered to be 3,454 m, we rise to 3,571 m in what is considered the Top of Europe
This does not mean that we are on the highest mountain in Europe, because the Jungfrau has about 4,158 m in front of the 4,810 of Mont Blanc and up to 5,652 of the Caucasus mountains that Russia and Georgia share, but if we are at the train station highest in the world, in what is the most popular visit in the country.
Although in winter it seems difficult to get good views from here, which is starting to fall. The wind is rising, and the mountain "growls." We believe that the storm will go further in the next few minutes. However, in the following Google photo, we show you where we are ...
At this time the temperature has already dropped to -12 ° C but the weather worsens at times, although this "underground world" of excavated galleries It will bring us many surprises. You know that Paula collects "snowballs" as we tell you the day before leaving for the Holy Land. What do you think we found?
We are in a kind of museum whose entrance begins as if it were a theme park, here at 3,500 meters high, and also shows the highest natural cave in Europe and other curiosities.
But what has left us ice cream, more than the cold outside or an Ice Palace that we would see later, is to know the history of how such a mega-construction was done more than a century ago. There were 300 workers, in 3 shifts 24 hours a day, who for 6 days a week in 16 years would become the heroes of placing some rails to the sky so that today people like us (and dozens of Japanese) reach these levels without barely efforts.
He Ice Palace (J2) If it disappoints us a little. Some corridors that simulate being of ice, take us to an area that is surrounded by a detachment, where ice sculptures in the form of bears, penguins and even Sherlock Homes, which we have not yet found sense to be here are exposed.
But the great moment came, the other great viewpoint, the Plateau (J3) He was waiting for us to go outside with extreme weather, cold, ice and blizzard but ... if the Japanese did it, weren't we going to do it?
It seems difficult to imagine before this panorama, that at another time of the year, in this area activities are carried out with sleds, walks to the refuge, or act as a solarium for some ...
!! Bolass War! Noooooooooooooooo !! Chulitaaa, you go with a snowsuit and I don't have it here ...
What would you love to ride a sleigh? But if we don't have a day like today, they can't be rented. How does it matter? Paula? Paulaaaaaaaa?
Jokes apart, both this and the Sphinx viewpoint where we were before, you get up to where the Aletch Glacier is born, which with 23 km of tongue is the largest in this area, which brings us the memories of that unforgettable adventure in Molchanov to Antarctica from which 4 years have passed.
!! How cold !! We can't take it out here anymore. At some point they have reached -28ºC so it is better not to risk too much of a freeze, which we still have a long way to go.
Visiting the restaurant area, taking advantage of hot cappuccinos (EUR 9), taking souvenirs for the family (EUR 43.59 and CHF 6) and sending a postcard from the highest postbox in Europe (EUR 2.40 stamp and postcard) we take the next train that reaches the top, in what we already consider an essential visit.
Lautterbrunnen, a hot chocolate?
To those who think that the visit to the Jungfrauoch, Top of Europe, ends here (among us ourselves) one of the best surprises that ignorance can bring. Our passage through Kleine Scheidegg is now testimonial, just to change trains and go very cold by the wind that has risen.
From there The journey that takes us to Lautterbrunnen has nothing to do with the one that brought us from Winderwald and our mouth cannot do anything but open more if we did not bring it little.
What was snow and wind is gradually transformed into a landscape that we no longer know what to call, once the qualifications of "fairytale" "picturesque" "wonderful" "precise" ...
Immense valleys with small and strategic accumulations of clouds, snowy trees, large cliffs, sharp mountains with large vertical walls, completely frozen river canyons ...
Our red train, contrasting with the white route that surrounds us, passes stations like Allmend, Wengen or Wengald while approaching a town famous at another time of the year for its beautiful waterfalls nearby (there are up to 72)
Lauterbrunnen (7) It is a dream come true. Without the wind or snow from the top, with the sun rising at these last hours of the day leaving illuminated the alpine peaks of the area, and with the train making its way into this descent that seems unreal from the utopian it seems, we enter through its station 2 hours and 5 minutes after leaving.
Here it catches our attention again, although we had not yet commented on it, the "Hotel Reservation" machines that help those intrepid who venture on complicated dates like these and look for shelter in the village.
While we took the opportunity to have a hot chocolate and a bun, which together with the sandwiches and sausage we bring, form an impromptu meal (13.20 CHF) for a really different day
Interlaken's Harder Potschete (and a good Rosti)
But what happens to this town, are they always partying? Today has been (although we have not seen it) the famous Harder Potschete which is celebrated every year on January 2, where with folk music and characters dressed as ogres, Hardermann and his wife take to the streets and shout wildly.
We took the opportunity to rest from an important early morning, and to try a dish that we had not yet tried at our dinner. It's about the famous Rosti, where in a pan with potatoes it is accompanied with meat, vegetables or cheese and egg and is offered in the form of a pancake resulting in really exquisite accompanied by a beer and not excessively expensive (43.50 CHF). However, it is an old farmer's food from the Canton of Bern, now a national dish.
The day is not enough, and we prepare things to follow the route tomorrow, which little by little we have to approach Geneva from where we depart in three days. Possibly tomorrow we sleep on the shores of Lake Geneva, but we will tell you.
Paula and Isaac, from Interlaken (Switzerland)
EXPENSES DAY:CHF 79.70 (approx. EUR 67.83) and EUR 9 and GIFTS: CHF 8.40 (approx. 7.15 EUR) and 43.59 EUR