Jungfrau – Top of Europe
Jungfrau – Top of Europe Jungfraujoch Reviews
Jungfraujoch Mar 05, 2013
Jungfraujoch means saddle of the maiden; saddle in this sense is a col, the place between two mountains where one peak ends and the next begins, in this case between the Jungfrau and her neighbour, the Monsch. It is the home of the highest railway station in Europe.
The Jungfraujoch is beautiful. It is only accessible by mountain trains, and the journey itself is really beautiful. The train winds up the mountains from the valley floor, past several ski resorts (or hiking resorts, depending on what time of year you go), and under some of the great glaciers. It’s well worth squabbling for a window seat to admire the view. The train finally enters a tunnel through the Eiger about 7km from the final stop, although it stops a couple of times for you to admire the view from windows in the mountain tunnels. It is an astonishing work of engineering. Be aware that sometimes parts of the train that are reserved, in our case three quarters of the train home, so you might need to arrive promptly for it.
The train line comes up from the tunnel into an underground station, and the tourist attraction part starts. In common with many of the highest/lowest/furthest south and so on places I’ve been, the jungfraujoch is an interesting mix of tourist tat and natural wonder. The main attractions are, of course, the viewpoints. There are two viewpoints – one at the sphinx observatory, and a lower terrace. The lower terrace was shut when I was there because of the ice and wind. The platform at the sphinx observatory was incredible. Apart from the astonishing views all around, across frozen valleys and the walls of the neighbouring mountains, and the strange shapes that the glacier ice forms, I’ve never felt wind like that. The wind funnelled right along the valley, blasting one side of the platform with high, freezing winds so that I could hardly hold my camera even with my gloves, but the other side of the platform was still and cool.
The touristy parts include an ice palace, where lots of figures are carved into the ice. Be aware that this is inside the glacier itself, so would be cool and slippery even in summer. There is also a weird sort of alpine statue part with a statue of a cow wearing a watch (!), and lots of gift shops. There is no way of avoiding the statue of the spooky goat or the watch wearing cow. There are also plenty of toilets. Theoretically there are lots of restaurants, but when I was there they were shut either due to the high wind or booked out by a large party of Chinese tourists on a group tour.
Of course, there is no guarantee of a clear view – the weather does what the weather will do. It might be worth checking the forecasts before you go, especially as the day we were there it shut three hours early because of the wind. It’s also very expensive – we got it half price with our ski pass and it was still 60francs. But then compared to what you pay to go up a skyscraper, that isn’t all that much. I loved it, and I would recommend it to anyone, as long as they brought warm clothes and sensible shoes!
Part of the Skiing in Murren travel blog
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