Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Jungfraujoch - "The Top of Europe"


Europe's highest altitude railway, Switzerland's Jungfraubahn, was opened on August 1, 1912 at an elevation of 3,454 meters/11,333 feet after a 16 year construction period.

The Sphinx Observatory, located in Switzerland's Junfraujoch, is one of the world's foremost environmental research stations. It is the highest in Europe and the highest in the world accessed by public transportation.

What say you if we were to visit the Jungfraujoch today?

First stop . . .

Coffee at a restaurant in Wilderswil,
elevation 584 meters/1,956 feet

I accepted a very generous offer by Tiger Senior team offensive lineman/Junior team Defensive Coordinator (1-0 in 2012 by the way) Toni Capozzolo to join him and a couple of his friends for a visit to this incredible destination.

Although Toni is a Swiss native, we shared at least one thing in common as we arrived at this restaurant to start our journey. Neither one of us had ever been to the Jungfraujoch!

After a good cup of coffee at this restaurant that is run by a South Korean family, Toni and I met up with our travel partners and boarded the first of three trains that would take a little over two hours to get us to the Jungfraujoch.

Toni Capozzolo, Claudia Tännler,
Marc Friedl and me

The view on the way up to Kleine-Scheidegg

Scenic natural beauty surrounded us but I was a bit apprehensive what with the rapidly thinning air and the plunging temperatures as we awaited to make the transfer to our next train.

Suddenly, I felt MUCH safer!!!

Bryan Adams will play this chilly
outdoor venue this Saturday evening
in Kleine-Scheidegg

We finally made it!

Thanks to . . .

The Founding Father
of the Jungfraubahn

Although the Swiss "Railway King" would die of pneumonia only a year into the project, his family finished blasting tunnels through the Alps in order to build the cogwheel railway that Zeller envisioned.

Once we got to the Jungfraujoch Station, it was time to do some serious explorations.

Claudia leads us into the Ice Tunnels

Scratch, is that you?

With Toni in the Ice Tunnels

Seals, Igloo and an Eskimo Ice Sculpture

Bears Ice Sculpture

With Sherlock Holmes

As you may recall, it was erroneously reported in the papers that Sherlock was killed by the evil Professor Moriarty in the nearby Reichenbach Falls.

Don't these people have fact checkers?

In a very wise move, Marc and Claudia suggested that we eat at 11:00 a.m. when the very nice Crystal Restaurant opened to avoid the lunchtime rush.

Great move!

The Crystal Restaurant

The large windows below the wooden siding is the restaurant's location.

After a fine and very filling meal, we journyed outside into the -4.5ºC/24ºF weather to get a better view of our surroundings.

The Jungfrau

The Aletsch Glacier

The largest expanse of ice in central Europe, it covers nearly 169 sq. km/65 sq. miles.

The observation area

Thun and Interlaken in the distance

How much would a helicopter ride cost?

The Gang of Four at
The Top of Europe

The Sphinx Observatory

Let's climb a little higher and see some new vistas.

OK, we actually rode up in a very fast elevator.

The Alps BELOW the Sphinx Observatory

The Mönch

The Mönch (monk) protects the Jungfrau (virgin) from the nearby Eiger (ogre).

At the Sphinx Observatory

Two Snow Birds at the Sphinx Observatory

They are not afraid of humans

Colorful Minerals in the Alps

An Ice Chasm

I'm keeping my distance as I've lost sight of that St. Bernard.

How about if we go for a hike?

Looking up at the barely visible
Sphinx Observatory

Toni decided against the hike

We followed his natural ability to lead and influence others.

A sudden commotion shocked us all

Our fellow tourists from Japan had started a snow ball fight that could have been huge safety issue but cooler heads prevailed thankfully.

Avalanche ridge?

How about this ridge?

It was now about 3:30 p.m. and we still had a two hour train ride down to Wilderswil plus the 45 minute drive to Thun still ahead of us.

All Aboard!!!

Once aboard the cogwheel railway, I noticed a sign that led me to wonder . . .

Are the Swiss still neutral?

Native Americans camped in Kleine-Scheidegg?

Sounds like a Suicide Run to me!

It was a wonderful, wonderful day filled with fantastic vistas and good friends.

Thank you Toni, Claudia
and Marc!!!

Jungfraujoch Cow Bells for Kevin and Jacob

My two grandsons are growing quickly and are in overall good health but there is always a fear of a fever. If they ever should get one, there is only one known prescription to cure a fever. . .

Enjoy a 360º view of the Jungfraujoch


Julien said...


"Bombardier" is the name of a Canadian Company who built metro, train and that kind of things... ;)

George said...

That is EXACTLY what the Swiss want us all to believe!

They are very clever I think.

David said...

I'm thinking that concert venue might not be ideal for Bryan Adams to play "Summer of '69."