If you haven’t seen Part One yet, read it here.
After the beyond-amazing scenery on the way up to Jungfraujoch, the top of the Swiss Alps, we weren’t sure if the views up there would live up to everything we had just seen. We reached the last train station and were still inside of the Eiger, so there was nothing to see until we walked through the building and out onto the observation deck.
Out stretched in front of us was the Aletsch Glacier, surrounded by snow-capped peaks. We had a 360 degree view, and the weather was perfect, allowing for great visibility of the mountains and the valleys where we had just been not too long before. The Aletsch Glacier is the largest remaining glacier in the Alps, and sadly, it has been receding at an alarming rate.
One unexpected surprise we found at Jungfraujoch was the ice cave. It is a little touristy and silly, but it is included in the price of your ticket up there, so we decided to do a quick walk-through. It is a man-made series of tunnels constructed of ice. There are also some pretty intricate ice sculptures to look at as well. It was really easy to loose your footing in there since the floor is made of ice, and a few people definitely slipped and fell! It was neat to reach out in every direction around you and be surrounded by ice. I especially loved the acorn-obsessed squirrel character, Scrat, from the Ice Age movies they had stuck in the walls!
Once we emerged from the ice caves, we headed over to the observation area that was actually part of the mountain covered with snow (the observation deck is a man-made platform). There was nothing but some sticks and a rope separating us from the edge of the cliff, and the glacier down on the other side. Once again, we had amazing views above the clouds, and of the gigantic glacier. We could see we weren’t at the very top, as the mountain peaks were even higher on either side of us. It was amazing being that high up and that close to the Eiger, a famous mountain that we had previously seen several TV specials on.
As we were looking out to the other side, over the cliff, we saw two people near the edge messing with some bags. No one else was all the way out there, as it is at your own risk, and probably really easy to slip and fall right off! We watched them for a while, as their bags unfolded and parachutes came into view – they were going to jump off!
We headed over to the other side to check out the other activities that were available. In front of the glacier, there was an outdoor bar, a tubing run, and ziplining – all of which looked really fun. We were very tempted, but after seeing the prices we decided we would just do it next time we come back and we would have more time and money to enjoy it that way. There was also a long trail in the snow where people were hiking up away from the main area, but we weren’t sure where that went.
We did not want to leave at ALL, but we had to catch a series of trains down and then the bus back to Lucerne. We wanted to stay and even talked about changing our plans and heading back up there for a week, but getting there is pricey, along with last-minute accommodations. We will be back in the near future, we know that for sure. The one positive about the train back down was that we were actually taking a different route and heading back down to Grindelwald, which is on the other side of the valley. We would get the chance for all-new views and see the village that we hadn’t seen on the way up.
I wished the train would go slower. Again, I was envious of the hikers. And the people who get to live in the little cottages and cabins and have these views every single day. Last but definitely not least, the quick glimpse we had of Grindelwald did not disappoint – another picturesque village.
Before it had even ended, we knew that this day would be extremely hard to beat – Eastern Europe and all of the places we had yet to see had a very tough act to follow. We reluctantly got back onto the bus and drowsily watched Grindelwald pass us as we headed back to Lucerne. The Swiss Alps had worked its magic on us and we still say that this was one of our favorite days of our entire trip. We can’t wait to get back.