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)
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.
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!
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.
Tourists wheeling their luggages up to their hotel.
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.
And these vehicles run totally on electricity.
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.
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!
It is also a flowered village. The only houses that have no flower displays are the abandoned ones.
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.
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.
Charming facades of chalets that are like museum showcases.
Every house and building has to be bedecked with geraniums, so lovely!
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.
Noticeable is the large amount of Chinese tourists.
The trip to the Top of Europe
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.
We boarded the train and as it slowly ascended to the top, we see hikers preferring to climb on foot rather than by train.
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.
Fantastic scenery. No wonder their cattle produces such delicious milk, the grass is free from any forms of air pollution.
I think the bell is too heavy for him, he seems to be straining from the bell’s weight…
Wow! that must be liters of milk!
..and snow fences
…and family hikers
Small patches of lakes of the purest water, you can probably drink from it.
Terrace above the clouds and snow
Slate-roofed houses and frozen waterfalls
The highest street signs in Europe
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
And this is what we saw from the window! the purest white blanket of snow!
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.
Inside the Ice Palace where I struggled to walk on ice.
And enjoyed posing next to ice sculpture of seals
and penguins, too!
Tourists posing by the ice walls
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!
Even at nearly 3,500m above, advertising is still good business. They have to use ice-proof printing material, I supposed.
This was our way of leaving our mark, signing our name on this Unesco banner.
We ventured out on the snowy wonderland and my nephew had so much fun wading on snow
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.
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.
One last photo op before boarding the train back to Wengen