The icy Jungfraujoch

The icy Jungfraujoch
Last October, my wife and I were on a month’s vacation in Luxembourg where our daughter and son-in-law live and work. They had very meticulously chalked out a tour programme for us which mainly covered the Benelux area as also some French and German cities bordering Luxembourg. But, we were on cloud nine when we were told that our itinerary also included Switzerland, particularly Interlaken and the Jungfraujoch on the Swiss Alps.

After a five-and-a-half-hour drive from Luxembourg through the picturesque countrysides of France and Germany, we arrived in Interlaken and checked into our hotel. It was already freezing cold and we retired for the night, looking forward to the thrill and excitement of the upcoming high-Alpine excursion, the following afternoon, to the Jungfraujoch – the top of Europe!

The Jungfraujoch is an amazing Alpine viewing point. The Jungfrau Railway’s cog-wheel train starting from Kleine Scheidegg, at an altitude of 2,961 metres above sea level, is the only way to get there. 

After alighting at the Jungfraujoch railway terminus, visitors enter the main complex, pass the coffee bar and souvenir shops, and arrive at the foyer, to catch a glimpse of the Jungfrau Panorama, a four-minute 360-degree cinematic experience.

From there, Switzerland’s fastest lift takes the tourists to the Sphinx vantage terrace at 3,571 metres (11,782 feet), another 117 metres (449 feet) further up, in just 27 seconds. The vantage terrace, opened in July 1996, offers some spectacular views of Europe’s longest glacier, the 22-km-Aletsch Glacier. Another marvel at Jungfrau is the ‘Ice Palace’. Created in the 1930s, the Ice Palace is a cavern covering an area of over 1000 sq m, with countless niches and passageways. On display is an array of shimmering works of art comprising crystalloid sculptures, like those of bears, eagles, penguins and so on.

The Jungfraujoch boasts of the highest altitude post box in Switzerland, the highest-altitude chocolate shop in Europe and the highest-altitude watch shop in the world, and, last but not the least, the top-of-Europe Indian restaurant ‘Bollywood’.

Another unique experience awaiting the tourists is ‘Swiss Chocolate Heaven’, an exposition set up by Lindt, the well-known Swiss chocolate and confectionery company founded in 1845. Six interactive exhibits invite you to discover the secrets of the Swiss chocolate culture in the inimitable Lindt setting.

For those who look for outdoor recreation, Jungfrau offers facilities for downhill sledging, skiing and snowboarding, hiking and cliff-walking. Nature-lovers get the opportunity to discover over 600 species of Swiss Alpine flora, such as Edelweiss and gentian. Those who wish to understand more about the Alpine pastoral community and culture have a chance to listen to the traditional alphorn players. Those who are hyper-adventurous can go zipping 250 metres across the fascinating glacier world, safely attached to a steel cable, to raise their adrenaline levels. Slots for all these activities can also be booked online. The trip to the Jungfraujoch, along with wild mountain brooks, over Alpine meadows, and upwards to eternal ice that is both majestic and merciless, will remain etched in our memory forever.

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