Day 4 – Wengen and the Jungfrau Glacier

Previous: Day 3 – Interlaken, Switzerland

We had our hotel booked in Wengen so from Interlaken, we caught the train to Lauterbraunnen (30 mins) then changed to another train for Wengen (15mins)

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The Lauterbrunnen train station

No need to search for a train arrival/departure board as the cog wheel train to Wengen stands on the quai that says “Wengen”.  There were so much tourists of various nationalities; the camera-toting tour groups of Chinese, Japanese and few Indians who would pose all over the rail tracks, below rail notices, next to luggage lockers, alongside the rail fencing and every standing structure there is, while the Europeans are geared to the max with their telescopic hiking sticks, polar jackets, rock-climbing shoes, and some passionates with their hiking gears such as snow axe, ropes,  anchors, helmets, etc. 

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We arrived in Wengen a little before 8pm but it was still light, thank goodness.  Now our first job is to find a way to find our hotel.  It’s supposed to be only walking distance from the station, well, Wengen is but an alpine village and every place is walking distance.   Besides, there is no public transport here, with the exception of a cable car,  and it is illegal to have a car.  It is a pedestrianized village, their only way of preserving the clean air environment.

There is a large electronic map at the station and we only had to press the button next to where our hotel’s name is written and voila, a long red light flashed up on the map, connecting the spot “You are here” (which is at the train station, of course!) up to the spot where our hotel is located.  Seconds later, we were walking along the narrow snaking road going up the hill, a bit steep, if you ask me as we were struggling to pull our heavy luggages up!

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It is so easy not to get lost because there are clusters of signs directing you to your hotel or even to a pub, and they are even color-coded, such utopia!

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This is the view from our hotel room window.  Such a postcard beauty!  The building on the left is the cable car station and the street below is the main street which is typically quiet except for the noise coming from the travellers’ rolling luggages.

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Tourists wheeling their luggages up to their hotel. 

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One can phone the hotel for a pick-up but with the miniscule size of the vehicle, they can only take on the elderly and those with reduced mobility. 

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And these vehicles run totally on electricity.

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The only diesel-run vehicles exempt from plying Wengen roads are ambulances, fire trucks and police cars.  Even these are sized only a little bigger than a rubbish bin to adapt to the narrow roads.

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The picturesque mountain village of Wengen is situated at an altitude of 1274meters, on a sheltered terrace high above the Lauterbrunnen Valley at the foot of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountain ranges! 

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It is also a flowered village.  The only houses that have no flower displays are the abandoned ones.

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The cable car station with cars as big as a bus leave the village every few minutes, to go up the peak of Mannlichen, a good starting point for hiking activities.

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We went hiking the next morning and it was such fun exploring the flora and fauna, including a giant slug slowly crawling on this road.

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Charming facades of chalets that are like museum showcases.

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Every house and building has to be bedecked with geraniums, so lovely!

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Next day, we set out for our trip to the Top of Europe – the Jungfrau glacier.  So much tourists also waiting for the same train.

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Noticeable is the large amount of Chinese tourists.

The trip to the Top of Europe

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This is the cog railway starting from Interlaken all the way to Wengen and continuing up to the Jungfrau.  The cogwheel of the train meshes into the toothed rail (seen in photo) so the train could climb up steep hills.

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We boarded the train and as it slowly ascended to the top, we see hikers preferring to climb on foot rather than by train. 

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Climbing up

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Maintenance work along the way is continuing.  Mountains are eternally eroding and it is important to build strong retention walls to keep it from crumbling down, or at least, to minimize the damage as a consequence.

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Fantastic scenery.  No wonder their cattle produces such delicious milk, the grass is free from any forms of air pollution.

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I think the bell is too heavy for him, he seems to be straining from the bell’s weight…

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Wow! that must be liters of milk!

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Alpine flowers

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..and snow fences

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…and family hikers

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Small patches of lakes of the purest water, you can probably drink from it.

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Terrace above the clouds and snow

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Slate-roofed houses and frozen waterfalls

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The highest street signs in Europe

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After some 40 minutes of negotiating a long tunnel, the train stopped for 5 minutes on this spot to allow the passengers to have a quick view of the glacier panorama

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And this is what we saw from the window!  the purest white blanket of snow!

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Then after few more minutes, we finally arrived at the Jungfrau village, a whole complex of restaurants, shops, cinema, Ice Palace and observatory deck built at the top of the Jungfrau. 

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Inside the Ice Palace where I struggled to walk on ice.

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And enjoyed posing next to ice sculpture of seals

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and bears

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and penguins, too!

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Tourists posing by the ice walls

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Some people just can’t leave a place without leaving their mark.  This is part of the railing on the icy wall where one has to hold tight so as not to slide.  I was sliding all the time!  The soles of my shoes are so worn out, they are actually as smooth as a baby’s skin, no wonder they cannot grip on ice!

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Even at nearly 3,500m above, advertising is still good business.  They have to use ice-proof printing material, I supposed.

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This was our way of leaving our mark, signing our name on this Unesco banner.

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We ventured out on the snowy wonderland and my nephew had so much fun wading on snow

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We also went out to the Sphinx observatory to experience being up and outside the glacier surroundings.  Be aware though that the high altitude could pose breathing difficulties.

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And before saying goodbye to Jungfrau, we paid homage to the man responsible for making it easy for ordinary people (like us) to climb up to this place even without knowledge of mountain climbing…Monsieur Adolf Guyer-Seller.  He initiated the building of the Jungfrau Railway in 1893.

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One last photo op before boarding the train back to Wengen

Next:  Day 5 – Zermatt and the Matterhorn

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3 thoughts on “Day 4 – Wengen and the Jungfrau Glacier”

  1. always beautiful we miss our second home from the past we missed our week ends going to swiss alps anywhere they maybe
    we missed the awesomeness of their perfections lol

  2. Hello!

    First of all, I would like to commend on your very thorough blog :) I’m also from the Philippines :) Can you help me with a thing or two for my trip. Is it better to stay in Wengen than Grindelwald? Are there more things to do in Wengen than Grindelwald just in case of bad weather that would not permit us to go up to Jungfraujoch. Which hotel/ lodging do you suggest for Wengen? I would be purchasing Swiss Half fare card.

    Here is my iti:
    day 1-4 – Frankfurt to Munich
    day 5 – Zurich
    day 6 – Lucerne
    day 7 – Lucerne
    day 8 – Lucerne to top of europe
    day 9 – Wengen/ Grindelwald to Geneva by train & then fly to Nice
    day 10- Nice – Monaco (Can you suggest a good hotel, safe location & best value :))
    day 11- Nice – Aix en provence ( Still thinking if going to spend a night in Aix, do you know any nice hotel? )
    day 12- Provence tour
    day 13- Aix to Nice by train & then fly to Copenhagen.
    day 14-17 – Sweden
    day 18 – 21 -Paris ( Can you suggest a good hotel that is close to metro station, with good & safe location)

    My trip would start mid April.
    Thank you very much! :) happy hearts day :)

  3. Thank you, Carol, for your mail. I couldn’t reply sooner because I’ve been busy going through all the facets of moving house and when one’s mind is cluttered with lists of things to do, it is quite difficult to concentrate.

    Now let’s look at your question on Wengen vs Grindelwald. I’ve only stayed in Wengen and was truly blown away by its picture postcard mountain village atmosphere and the pretty wooden houses and their traditional facades bedecked with flowers. I don’t know about Grindelwald, I’m sure it’s just as pretty and I read that it is bigger and has more shops. Hopefully the weather will cooperate when you get there, otherwise, I would recommend Zermatt where you can take cover from the rain or snow by visiting the Matterhorn museum for a discovery of traditional Swiss country life. And as soon as the weather improves, you can take the cog wheel train up the Gornergrat for a good view of the Matterhorn, followed by a gripping experience with the express cable car to take you up to the Glacial Paradise. There’s also the charming old town to explore and don’t forget the cemetery where found the tombs of those who perished in their climb of the Matterhorn, (pls see my post on Day 5/6 above).

    As regards to hotels, I always search on Booking.com or lastminute.com as they have a wide selection of accommodation according to size, location and price. As to a good Paris hotel, there are so many to choose from, just avoid the vicinity of Gare du Nord, Barbes Rochechouart, Pigalle, Strasbourg St Denis as they are shady areas. For a villagey yet Bohemian atmosphere, try the Montmartre area, or if you want to be walking distance to the tourist spots, you can opt for the more expensive Champs-Elysées or the more popular Latin Quarter at St Michel Notre Dame. I also encourage you to visit Aix, a bustling medieval town with its beautiful fountains, churches and street markets, very photogenic if you are a photo enthusiast.

    And if I may add, your trip of mid-April is perfect for visiting the tulip gardens of Keukenhoef in The Netherlands, if you haven’t experienced it yet.

    Thank you for the Valentine greetings, It’s rather too late now for me to return the greetings but it’s better late than never, n’est-ce pas? )

    Take care and bon voyage!

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