Sunday, March 17, 2013

Europe 2012 day 4 Part 1: Swiss Alps - Jungfraujoch

Day 4 (Sept. 7, 2012) was one of the highlights of our trip and an experience we'll never forget. We rode a train to the highest train station in Europe, the top of the Swiss Alps to the Jungfraujoch - Top Of Europe - 11,782 feet!

Sphinx observatory - this was our Christmas card pic

Background: in November 2011 I was watching the Today Show and saw Matt Lauer broadcast from here (I did a blog post about it too!) I sent the link to Nick and we agreed we had to go there.

We were up bright and early on the first train up

tickets purchased - on our wait to the mountains right behind me

Sit on the right side of the train - the best views are on that side

From Lauterbrunnen we took the first leg of our train journey to Kleine Scheidegg (point A to B). From there it was another hour on the Jungfraubahn train up to the top (point B to C).  The railway has been called the "train to heaven" and it is easy to see why

Sunrise over the alps

Up and up we go
Beautiful  sunrise views on the way up

You can see from my fancy homemade map above that the trek from B to C is a tunnel IN the mountain! Very impressive engineering and the train tracks are 100 years old! While you are on the B to C leg of the journey the train makes two stop for you to get out to look at the view of the glaciers right outside.

inside the train, a video plays about your journey

We're inside the Eiger

All aboard!

midway viewpoint

Once we got to the Jungfraujoch train station we made a b-line to the Sphinx Obersation deck.  Here is a little map and you can see how big the actual area is.

An elevator takes you to the top and this is the view we got to see...

panorama view - click to enlarge

another panorama - click to enlarge

The Sphinx Observatory - lots of climate research is done here
Europe's longest glacier - Aletsch Glacier- 14 miles long

The Mönch mountain

The Monch - I'll just enjoy the view from here :)

panorama of the Mönch - click to enlarge

the viewing platform overlooking thMönch

Speaking of climbing, this is also a starting point for people who are going to climb the mountains - they come from all over the world to take on the Swiss peaks

Our new friends from Germany getting ready to take on a climb

Couple of things about the top - it was about 30 degrees and cloudless and the sun is very intense at that high of an altitude - even though we were bundled up we layered on a lot sunscreen on our faces.  And sunglasses are absolutely necessary - intense sun + lots of white snow = bad for the eyes!

There are also signs everywhere reminding you to take it easy - the air up there had about 20-30% less oxygen then what we we breathe down here at sea level. We did a little walking on the glacier and even though we are in pretty good shape we were noticeably a little slower with our steps.   If you're pregnant, not in the best of health or elderly probably best to skip the trip. They give advise on the high altitude on their website too.

Walking paths for those who want to hike in the snow
(we just went a little ways - didn't have the best shoes on)

How they built the Sphinx on that rock I will never know...
Zoomed in picture - impressive engineering 

There are tons of activities you can do at the Jungfrau - zip-lining  sledding, they have inside exhibits and a neat ice cave area!

surrounded by ice

photo op!

the Top Of Europe


A cow wearing a watch - Classic Switzerland

A beautiful morning Nick and I will never forget!

We love you Switzerland

Next stop - part 2 of our day, an afternoon of hiking in the Swiss Alps

where we were heading down to hike


Ashley said...

This is just so much fun!! I love all the pictures!

Michelle {lovely little things} said...

How fun! I didn't realize you did this, what a cool thing to say you've done, "I've been to the top of Europe!"

Michelle {lovely little things} said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah and Stewart said...

Gorgeous! The Swiss Alps are definitely on my bucket list.

Kristin said...

WOW sooooo neat! I want to go there one day! Those ice caves look awesome! I have been wanting to go back to Europe sooooo bad lately! I have been 4 times but wish we would have done a few more trips before kids!

Diana Mieczan said...

WOW, that is totally incredible, lovely!!! The view...swoonworthy. Kisses

Sienna said...

wow that is so incredible. i've only been to geneva and i so regret not doing the alps. your so lucky that your husband loves to travel as well !your burberry scarf is so cute!

BonBon Rose Girls Kristin said...

Amazingly gorgeous! How would that be if you're afraid of heights? Haha!

Tara said...

i MUST add this to the 'must see list'!!! What a fun experience and it looks beautiful!

Susannah said...

Oh my goodness, what amazing views! Definitely on my bucket list. :-)

Jess said...

Just found your blog and love your posts about the trip. I love to travel and its been fun to read about your adventures through your posts and pictures.

Carrie {Living It Up in U.P.} said...

That is really cool, the top of Europe! I'm glad Nick is wearing his UW hat around Europe. I always get a kick out of seeing Huskies outside of Washington.

Emily {Isnt That Charming} said...

Oh my gosh - SO beautiful! I went to Cervenia when I was studying abroad (Mountain that connects Switzerland, France and Italy) and it was one of the coolest places I've ever been. These pics make me want to go back!
Isn’t That Charming.

Erica said...

How beautiful that you were able to see the sunrise from the train!! And the ice penguin are just so precious. I really need to make it to Europe soon :)

B said...

OMG! That looks amazing and beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

Laura Darling said...

What gorgeous pictures! This looks like the trip of a lifetime!

Mandy Southgate said...

It just looks gorgeous Carol and seeing the sun rise over the Alps must have been an unforgettable experience. Strange, I knew about the thin air and need for sunglasses but it never occurred to me you'd need sunscreen.

Selma @ Crazy Little World Of Mine said...

I have been Jungraujoch and loved it. And when I saw Matt Lauer's little trip last year I knew it will inspire some people to do exactly that. Glad you went!!! :)


Val said...

Such an amazing place your pics are fantastic.


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