Saturday, September 21, 2013

Oktoberfest Trip Report Day 3

We had a great day today. We woke up to perfect weather for a trip to the Jungfraujoch. The sky was clear & blue with just a few white clouds to give it definition. After breakfast we walked 15 minutes to the train station in town and rode the train to the Kleine Scheidegg station where we changed to the Jungfraubahn and rode the rest of the way up to the Jungfraujoch station. The view of the valley below as you ascend is astounding. About 10 minutes into the ride the train enters a tunnel and doesn't emerge again. The Jungfraujoch station is completely underground. Along the ascent the train stops for 5 minutes where you can get out and view the lower valley from the Eiger wall.

At the top you follow the blue "Tour" signs that lead you sequentially to all the points of interest, and of course directly through the gift shops. :)  The most important point of interest is the view from the Sphinx observatory which is the highest point you can go to. It was spectacular. From there you can see the peaks of the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau; the Aletsch glacier; and all the way down to the valley.

After visiting the Sphinx we went out to the snow fun area where for a small fee you can go sledding on the glacier or zip line over it. We started by trying out the sledding which was great fun and made easy by a conveyor belt you could ride back to the top of the hill. We debated the zip line and finally decided to go for it. I had zipped before in Hawaii, but this was quite a different experience. The line starts up the mountain wall, and descends gradually to the snow below. There is nobody at the end to stop you and no brake on the line. You just start dragging your feet in the snow until you slow to a stop.

After zip lining, we explored some of the indoor activities at the top including an ice palace carved right into the glacier ice, and a giant snow globe. The final stop on the tour is another visit outside to the plateau near the Jungfrau with more breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

We took time to stop at one of the food and drink areas and celebrated our adventure with a glass of champagne and a scotch on the rocks. Then we boarded the train back to Grindelwald. Our hotel hostess had suggested a hike we could do on the way back where you exit the train, hike downhill a ways, then get back on the train at another station. On the way up I was considering this, but on our way down we were exhausted from our advetures and the thin air, so we stayed on the train all the way down.

Our day finished up with another nice dinner and dessert at the hotel. Tomorrow we pack up again and drive back to Munich for Oktoberfest.

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