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Adorable Chick

SWITZERLAND Diary : Day 5 - 09th April 2014

Set high above the beautiful village of Grindelwald in the Canton of Bern is the snowy world of JUNGFRAU ( meaning Virgin / Maiden) . The region boasts of high mountain peaks, glacial valleys, scenic villages, mountain railways and varied, exciting winter activities. The JUNGFRAU MOUNTAIN sets a record of being the tallest amongst its peers in the Bernese Alps, standing at a height of 4160 metres approximately. The JUNGFRAUJOCH is the saddle (the dipping valley like area) connecting the peaks of MONCH & JUNGFRAU mountains. The ALETSCH Glacier, labelled as the longest one in Europe, can be spotted from the Jungfraujoch.

The 5th day saw our group bubbling with great vigour, waiting to explore the area around Interlaken. We were excited to ascend the Jungfrau ( pronounced yung-frau ) mountain, to get to the top of Europe. The upcoming, promising journey included cutting into caves, gliding through mountain passes & snow peaks, passing by loads of picture-postcard villages all along. The mode of transport during the day included bus, train, cable cars and of course a bit of walking. The cold morning embraced us as we sat waiting for a bus ( this time ), outside the Interlaken-West railway station. The bus rode us to the village of Wilderswil from where we boarded a train to Grindelwald and another train from there to "Kleine Scheidegg".

The Kleine Scheidegg is a mountain pass, which is the entry point to reach the majestic Jungfraujoch. Our train gradually climbed heights crossing the massive, rocky, mountain tunnels, cutting through the EIGER and MONCH ranges in great speed. The Eiger mountain stands at around 3900 metres while the Monch arches above it, at 4110 metres. Towering over both these ranges in continuity, is the Jungfrau mountain. As we sped through pitch darkness, lights came up illuminating the interiors of the train. We felt blocked ears due to the rising altitude and elevation. It was a fantastic night experience in broad daylight.  There were short stops at the tunnel stations of both Eiger & the Monch.

Tidy Desk

We were free to walk around these unique cave stations and take a look at  the outside world through few big holes cut through the rocks, that served as windows. The sights of pure white carpeting the entire surrounding area, dressed by the deep blue sky & billow of fluffy clouds was a feast to the eyes. We hardly spent time at these two stations. We also had to switch trains in-between. We were instructed to quickly return to the train before heading to our final destination. The train, during the last leg of our journey upward, was relatively small & had to accommodate the entire crowd from the previous one. As a result it was cramped up. We found place next to the lady driver, who drove the train at the press of few buttons. Her job seemed pretty cool. The entire journey from Interlaken lasted around two and half hours.

The Jungfrau station is also a tunnel station lying beneath the Jungfraujoch mountain.  We were thrilled to land in a well lit tunnel, at the topmost railway station in Europe. As soon as we got out, we noticed that the red coloured train carried a tribute inscribed on it, dedicated to the late Mr. YASH CHOPRA - An Indian Movie director, who has patronised Switzerland by shooting many of his block buster movies in the country. We strolled through the tunnel station, making our way upward by using an elevator to reach a rectangular shaped main hall. The walls of the entire structure was covered in glass offering unhindered views of the snowy valleys.

The high roof here was shaped like a dome. Few spiral steps lead to the 'open to sky' viewing deck. The wonderful views of snow covered mountain ranges from all sides enthralled us. We got on to the viewing platform where the peak of the mighty Jungfrau stood, making a perfect photo backdrop. The floor of the deck was built of strongly netted black iron and there was nothing under our feet apart from this. We could view the steep side of the mountains dropping downward, right below our feet.  There was no land beneath and it seemed like we stood on mid air, balancing on the metal floor.  The wind blew hard upward literally sweeping us off our feet.  We were laughing away, trying to hold ourselves together.

We posed for photographs whilst trying to keep ourselves firm on the floor. After a few clicks, we rushed back indoors, rubbing our palms hard, to make ourselves warm again. Thereafter, we followed a few sign-boards to reach the topmost view point, after visiting the museums on our way ( read below). Tourists stood squeezing themselves in a narrow, small area behind a strong door, while a majority queued up on the steps leading to the door. We joined the queue. The wet floor was proof enough of the weather outside. Each time visitors flung the door open, a sample of the cold air would blow at us, sounding off a warning & setting our expectations right.  As we followed the queue and got closer to the door, we caught a glimpse of the peak of mighty Jungfrau, comfortably settled on the white land in one corner. We still stood indoors warming ourselves a bit longer, before attempting to take the plunge. We were busy blowing up a few colourful balloons, which we had carried along, to add colour to the whiteness.