Peak Time Service – One Hundred Years At The Top Of Europe

There was a full-page article in the Financial Times last weekend about the upcoming 100-year anniversary coming up in August this year of the Jungfrau Railway. The weather outside being rather ‘Jungfrauian’ my thoughts went back to my journey on this wonder of the manmade world and visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch.

The author of the article, Jan Morris, was the guest of the Swiss National Tourist Office and stayed at the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel and Spa in Interlaken and travelled on the Jungfrau Railway to ‘The Top of Europe’. I was a guest of my dear friend Susanne and her family in their lovely home near Lucerne and we drove to Lauterbrunnen to join the same Jungfrau Railway.

My first visit to Switzerland coincided with my first ever trip abroad in 1966. A group of Girl Guides and Guiders travelled from Norwich and Norfolk by coach, via a stay in Paris in each direction, to spend 6 nights in a Swiss chalet in the tiny hamlet of Boden within walking distance of the large village of Adelboden and very near the Girl Guides Association’s ‘Our Chalet’.

Since then I have made possibly 20 or more visits to Switzerland including working in hotels for two long summer vacations from university, accompanying my husband on ski-ing trips, taking my mum on holidays and visiting my friends in Berne and near Engelberg (Wolfenschiessen).

I didn’t visit The Jungfrau until April 2010. It’s a very expensive day out and there has always been a huge choice of other things to do. My Bernese friend had also never done the journey and my friend Susanne had only taken her family on the trip in 2009. It was at her suggestion that we decided to bite the bullet and do the trip. I texted Bernese Barbara but unfortunately due to work commitments she was unable to join us.

Unlike Morris we began our journey from the station at Lauterbrunnen.  Our visit fell between seasons so we left the car in the vast, empty multi-storey car park, purchased our tickets and travelled via Wengen on The Jungfrau Railway.

Morris describes much better than I could what it’s like at The Top Of Europe.

The settlement up here was first established in 1912 but it still feels to me almost surreally futurist. For inside the rock of that snowy mountain, or clinging to its surface, a small town thrives. Besides the highest railway station in Europe there is the highest post office and also, this being Switzerland, the highest watch shop. There are three restaurants (including Bollywood serving Indian cuisine) and souvenir shops, of course, and a coffee bar. If we have time to spare, we can wander through the Ice Palace, a long pedestrian tunnel beneath the glacier equipped with ice-figures of penguins, polar bears and such, together with instructive geological features. But dear God, that’s not all. We may well feel queasy now, after our trek through the Ice Palace at 11,000ft-plus, but after another trudge through another tunnel we find awaiting us a space-age elevator. In the blink of an eye this whisks us vertically another 400ft to the tip of a pinnacle called the Sphinx, the very top of the Top of Europe, and here science fiction becomes science fact.” 

For the full article see : http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/7973ce3a-476c-11e1-b646-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz1m6qCETdx

Bernese Bear and Cub in the Ice Palace

Susanne brought sandwiches and fruit for our picnic so apart from a cup of tea we didn’t try out the restaurant facilities.

We made the return journey by train/funicular via Kleine Scheidegg and Grindelwald.

In the past I’d visited the peaks of the Stanserhorn, the Titlis, Pilatus and the  Gornergrat from Zermatt but the Jungfrau trip was truly the icing on the cake and the most memorable experience.

The Matterhorn from the top of The Gornergrat

Mount Pilatus near Lucerne

9 comments on “Peak Time Service – One Hundred Years At The Top Of Europe

  1. Nilly says:

    I wonder if you made the ascent of Pilatus by the old cogwheel railway from Alpnachstad (the steepest such railway in the world)? I did this with my parents in 1957, on our first continental holiday – we were the only passengers and on the way down, despite the driver’s entreaties to”See the marmots!”, my mother kept her eyes firmly shut.

  2. Unfortunately the cog railway does not run in April so we ascended Pilatus via the cable cars from Lucerne. Perhaps next time!

  3. Rhona says:

    Lovely post, Barbara. You capture the magic of the mountains beautifully. Rhona

  4. My very long comment was swallowed earlier in the week Barbara so I am only just gathering myself to repeat it!
    The gist was HOORAY, lovely post and somewhere you have been to that I might have visited already…if not first:-) Loved the train journey from Grindlewald up to the top of the Jungfrau.
    Did you stop and look out of the Eiger North Wall window??

  5. I thought of you when I wrote this post, Lynne! What a shame about the initial comment. That has happened to me so many times. Yes I have pictures taken at the Eiger North Wall window.

    Pilatus : switzerland 2010 (2)
  6. […] ever visit to this gorgeous city – the capital city of Switzerland – was on the same Girl Guides trip mentioned earlier this month. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  7. […] ever visit to this gorgeous city – the capital city of Switzerland – was on the same Girl Guides trip mentioned earlier this month. On every visit since then I have been enraptured by this beautiful […]

  8. […] The Swiss are gluttons for their anniversaries! Just about every month there are fireworks or celebrations or parades in one Canton or another. But they really go to town with special anniversaries every year. I posted earlier about the 100 years of the Jungfrau Railway. […]

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