Our first trip of the year took all the way to lakes and snowy Alps of Switzerland – more specifically to Interlaken before heading over to quite a few amazing places in Valais (more on those in other blog posts).
We arrived into Interlaken via Zurich (we took the train from there) and after checking into our hotel, spent rest of the evening eating fondue (like A LOT of it) and planning our next few days in Switzerland.
The following morning, we’d decided to make our way over to Jungfraujoch – a beautiful place up in the mountains which, if I am totally honest, I had no idea what was actually there.
Every time I’d seen photos of it for years, I just saw this building up in the mountains, like something out of some fantastical movie (or perhaps even 007-esque) and it was while we were planning that I realised Jungfraujoch was the highest places you could visit by train in Europe (like we’re talking waaaaay higher than Machu Picchu) and was also home to some pretty epic views.
To get there from Interlaken, you catch the train from Interlaken West to Interlaken Ost, then to Lauterbrunnen, then to Kleine Scheidegg then to Jungfraujoch. Sounds like such a complete hassle but this journey couldn’t be easier!
For starters, trains run on time here (like almost to the second!) and the changes are as simple as walking across the exact same platform to the next train. I remember dreading the journey and being so surprised at how unbelievably easy it was.
After this train journey, I was so game for the many other train journeys we had in Switzerland – the system here is just on-point!
Leaving Interlaken, it was raining and by the time we got higher into the mountains, the rain was quickly replaced with snow. This snow makes for a magical scene as you climb up the mountains, almost like you’re heading over to Santa’s for a bit of tea and some scones and I was understandably excited.
^Above is when the high altitude finally hit – ergo the look on my face! 😀 Thankfully it wore off shortly after…
The flip-side of this is that when it snows that heavily, visibility is low so as incredible as it was on the way up, once we arrived at Jungfraujoch, we couldn’t see anything. Not the amazing scenery, not the glacier (which for some reason was what I was looking forward to the most) and definitely not the amazing alps up here.
There’s still a fair bit to do here so even if you arrive on a snowy day, you can hang around to check out the exhibition, head out to brave the snow or visit the Ice Palace here. All of which we did.
If I had to make one quick recommendation, it would be to check the weather before you visit. You’re in the mountains so the weather changes fairly quickly but it’s a pricey journey to get up here (which is totally worth it) and so if you have the opportunity to choose the days you visit, perhaps try to do so on a day with better visibility. (I have grand plans to re-visit in summer and check it all out again).
Oh and by the way, here’s what Jungfraujoch looks like on a clear day and why you absolutely have to visit (see pictures below).
Now here’s a few other things worth knowing before you visit:
1.) The train journey is so much easier than it looks on paper. I know I’ve already said it but it feels worth mentioning again.
2.) You can go skiing in lots of spots along the way up here so if it’s snowing up here, you can always flip plans and go skiing after checking our Jungfraujoch.
3.) The altitude here is pretty high (we’re talking about 3,400m) so there’s less oxygen in the air which will leave you short of breath. Just remember to take things slower if you find yourself out of breath (walk slower and just relax – your body gets used to it after a while).
If you’re prone to altitude sickness – take whatever medication you usually use in advance of your visit. According to the experts, you should only be up here for a couple of hours anyway (we stayed for like 3 hours including lunch at Crystal restaurant) and serious effects of high altitude sickness (for those affected) tends to kick in after like 6 – 12 hours.
If you feel too sick, just hop on the next train back down and you’ll start to feel better as you descend. You’ll probably be fine but its always worth knowing.
4.) Take your ID with you. They check ID with your train tickets so we had to take our passports everywhere with us.
5.) The right side of the train is arguably the better place to sit on the way up. The left is pretty cool too but the right side has arguably more viewpoints (including the beautiful village of Lauterbrunnen.
Oh and don’t forget to set your camera on “Sports Mode” or with a high shutter value as you go along. Any other mode and you’ll just end up with blurry photos. And take a drink with you – not entirely necessary but you might not get many options to vending on your way up so it’s nice to have your own refreshments before you get up.
Back in town, seeing as we’d already had lunch up at Crystal’s restaurant in Jungfraujoch we headed back to the hotel to drop some stuff off before going to the Funky Chocolate Club to make our very own Swiss chocolate.
I promise, despite the photos (which make it look like Lloyd did all the work and I just spent my time eating all the chocolates), I did actually get stuck in to make my own chocolate bars.
We got started with chocolate tasting (always a great way to start), right from the chocolate nips (after the cocoa has been harvested, dried and roasted) to the dark chocolate (100% first – which is sooooooo strong and bitter) right through to the milk chocolates (my favourite) and white chocolates.
Also found out was that when chocolate is melted and ready to go into the fridge, if you scoop it up and pour it back down, it doesn’t just drip normally – instead it falls down in a flat spiral (something which Lloyd terribly attempted to do and for fear of wasting all of our chocolate on the floor, had to be stopped).
Chocolate done, designed and packed for friends at home (*Hahaha! “For friends” – what a lie – Lloyd ate at least one bar that very same night! I may also have had one too… 😉 To be fair though, some of it did make it back home for our friends), we headed off in search of the sights of Interlake.
There’s an old historic part of the city and so that’s where we went.
Aimless wandering through its picturesque little streets, set against the stunning backdrop of alpine mountain and topped off with an amazing sunset through the skies.
Suffice to say, it was exactly the kind of weather we’d been hoping for earlier in the day at Jungfraujoch.
The old houses here are like something out of a Swiss fairytale and beautifully juxtaposed with the new ones.
Eventually, but not before Lloyd found a place he wanted to go for dinner, we headed back to the hotel where we would be picked up by Outdoor Interlaken to get our ski gear sorted out for the following day! (I always struggle to find ski boots and think I may just have to buy one to take skiing with me all the time).
Ski gear sorted (the folks at Outdoor Interlaken are so amazing – I’m so pleased we got dropped off and picked up with the ski gear, I may enjoy skiing but I certainly don’t enjoy carrying ski gear all across town 😆), we were dropped back at the hotel where we walked the whole 5 minutes to Stadthaus (the restaurant Lloyd wanted to go to) for dinner and a sneaky Schnapps, which somehow felt appropriate in these parts and pretty much sent me to sleep as soon as we got back – ready to tackle some alpine skiing the very next day! 🙂
Catch ya in the next post! 🙂