On our third day, after getting breakfast at the hotel and getting ready we headed on the train out to Kleine Sheidegg where we could catch the special train up to the Top of Europe. “Special” in the sense that it wasn’t included in our almost-all-inclusive mountain pass, and we had to pay about 53 CHF each for one trip up there 😉 Luckily, it was amazing and we felt it was worth it! 😉
So, while we were waiting for our first train, this couple next to us asked where we were from. We all kind of froze for a minute. Often people guess that I’m not from the U.S., but we had all been talking so we were pretty sure they knew we were from the U.S., and I don’t know about the Looneys but I was bracing myself for the “What do you think about Bush??!?!?” speech. We told them that we from the States and I was from Oregon, and it turned out the husband of the couple (a retired dentist) grew up in Portland, and they currently live in San Diego. It turned out to be a pleasant “where are you from?” and not an “I hate America” where are you from. Phew!
I know the United States isn’t perfect, and I know any of the U.S.’s mistakes have a profound effect on the rest of the world and it has to be very frustrating to have something you can’t control at all (the government of the U.S., which you have no right to vote for) effecting so much of your life in another country. At the same time, the U.S. has done a lot of GOOD for the world as well, and success in the states causes a ripple effect of good in other places as well. I wish there was a way for people to opt out if they really hate the U.S. and not get any of the bad or the good. However, that’s just not the way it is. Also, as a little aside, the fact that so many people supposedly hate us makes me really ticked off that they listen to our music and follow our celebrities so closely. If you hate us so much, get your own music and celebrities, sheesh! 😉
Anyway, so we eventually caught the train up to the Top of Europe. The Top of Europe-Jungfraujoch is the highest train station in Europe– up about 11,000 feet resting between two mountain peaks (Monch and Jungfrau). To get there, the train goes at a sharp angle uphill through a tunnel that was carved out INSIDE the mountains back in the 1800s. There are two points where the train stops for 5 minutes, and there are windows in the side of the mountain and you can look out. I had no idea when we boarded the train that it would be driving INSIDE the mountain, and I started feeling very claustrophobic and freaked out on our way up! But we made it just fine 🙂 Inside, our first stop was to the Ice Palace. Everything is made of ice inside–the floor, the walls, the roof, etc. There are a lot of little ice tunnels and ice sculptures inside. It was extremely cold in there (obviously), so we took some pictures and got out and headed to somewhere warm pretty fast.
We stopped in the cafeteria and the food didn’t look too good for the price, so we ended up splitting a big bowl of french fries and a giant chocolate bar for “lunch.” Then we headed out to this outdoor patch where you could see all the mountains, and there was this group of musicians in really colorful outfits playing crazy music. It was a very stark contrast to the whiteness and quiteness of the snow covered mountains. I did a silly dance the whole way up the path to the area where the music group was. Apparently they were filming some kind of commercial or music video. A lady kept asking us to “stand 2-3 meters back” and we didn’t know what that meant. The best I could think of was that I’m pretty sure I was close to 2 meters tall in science class back in the day when we learned about the metric system, and I was sure I was a little over that now. But it’s not too easy to imagine the length of myself lying down and to stay that distance away! Me and Krissi were all annoyed like “we paid $50 to be here, she can’t tell us where to stand” and then Adam pointed out that she had a “jungfraujoch” badge on. So we listened after that 😉
After taking a tremendous amount of photos and posing on a cliff for a photo op, we decided to head back inside and find our way up to the Sphinx which was the top viewpoint. The Sphinx was really amazing as well, and Krissi and I walked around taking lots of pictures. At the end of the day, Krissi put all her pictures on my laptop too, and we had basically all of the same mountain pictures. We took the same angles, the same distance, the same exposure, etc. Almost all of our shots were exactly the same! And they were amazing pictures–it was such an amazing view. It felt really fake because we’ve always seen pictures of this stuff but never actually been up there. Even the pictures of us up there look photo edited. Adam got cold pretty fast and went inside but Krissi and I continued to walk around taking pictures for awhile because although we were freezing, we loved it!
We hadn’t brought big coats with us because first of all most people don’t, because it’s really not as cold up there as you might expect, and people are usually only outside for a few minutes to look around and hang out the rest of the time indoors. Also, we didn’t know how long it would take us, and we didn’t want to be lugging around big jackets for whatever else we might do that day. As it turned out, it took most of the day to do the Jungfraujoch and by the time we got back down to Grindelwald it was dinner time. We wandered around for awhile looking for a place to eat. I really wanted to eat in Grindelwald because we already knew what was available in Interlaken and we’d already eaten there two nights in a row and would probably eat there again our final night. But every place we looked at in Grindelwald Adam kept suggesting we should go back to Interlaken (boo!). Finally, after I gave in and we were walking back to the train to head to Interlaken, I stopped to look at one last menu and then we saw a sign that said, “Sonntag ist Burger Day!” which means “Sunday is Burger Day!” and apparently on Sundays, all burgers at this restaurant were 6 francs. (About 5 USD). We asked to make sure that was correct, and then decided to eat there. I had a DELICIOUS curry chicken sandwich for 6 CHF. I was also feeling a little ill and after describing my symptoms we thought it was most likely I had a little altitude sickness.
After our delicious and reasonably-priced dinner (a rarity it seems in almost any european country, at least the reasonable part), we headed back to Interlaken where we stopped in a chocolate shop for dessert before heading back to the hotel to go to bed. Another great day in Switzerland!
For more pictures of this day at the Top of Europe, click here.