Prior to my move to Switzerland, I was a loyal “Today Show” watcher. On November 10, 2011, I saw a segment as part of “Where in the world is Matt Lauer?” that blew me away. As soon as I saw it, I knew that I had to get to this place the next time I was in Switzerland. Watch the segment that originally took my breath away:
Where in the world is Matt Lauer? (It’s 8 minutes long, but worth it! It literally gives me goosebumps!)
Since my arrival in Switzerland, I have been debating when would be the best time to visit Jungfraujoch. The weather is so unpredictable at the top of the mountain, and it takes at least 2-2.5 hours to drive to the small towns in the valley where a train can take you to the top.
My visitors requested to “see the Alps,” so on Saturday morning, we drove from Vevey to Grindelwald – a small resort town in the Jungfrau region – to see what we would find. On the way, we spotted the castle in Gruyères.
There was another beautiful view around almost every turn during our drive.
My sweet, little 4-cylinder car HATES the mountains, but we managed to make it to Grindelwald. We didn’t have a clear plan for the day, but once in the area, we read some reviews about the train ride up to Jungfraujoch – several of which claimed it was a “once in a lifetime experience.” We were sold. Thankfully, the weather was nice enough to warrant the splurge!
We parked the car, bought our tickets, and picked up some lunch for the train ride. We had to change trains once, and the total ride took us about an hour and a half. It was a breathtaking ride – the valley is so lush and green…with the juxtaposition of the jagged mountains up above. The valley is surround by three massive peaks – the Eiger, the Monch, and the Jungfrau. Partway through the train ride we entered a tunnel that runs THROUGH the Eiger and the Monch for the rest of the ascent. The tunnel took 16 years to complete. It was finished in 1912, so tourists have been able to reach the highest train station in Europe (11,332 ft) for over one hundred years!
Once at the “Top of Europe,” we started the tour, which quickly led us outside to the viewing platform of the Sphinx Observatory (11,716 feet). The views were breathtaking!
The only thing I should probably explain before showing you photos from the top is that it was supposed to be nearly 90*F in Vevey and in Grindelwald. We all brought a light jacket for the mountains, but all of us were wearing shorts or skirts, and three of us were in sandals. We were the ONLY ONES in sandals when we reached the observatory. Clearly, I’m not ready to be Swiss, because I don’t know how to advise myself or my visitors about what to wear when summiting mountain peaks. Thankfully, we made it back without losing any toes to frostbite!
In addition to the spectacular 360* exterior views from the Observatory, the “Top of Europe” also boasts an ice palace carved out of the glacier. There are multiple caverns to walk through and quite a few ice sculptures of penguins, eagles, and polar bears.
We took an overcrowded train down the mountain and opted to drive part of the way back to Vevey before stopping in Gruyères for a fondue dinner. (You may remember my last visit to Gruyères with my mama.) It was equally as charming in the summer time as it was in the winter. And the fondue was delicious – despite the warm weather. It was the perfect way to end our very Swiss day.