A couple prepares for a day in the mountains at the Wilderswil train station
Our group was treated to two very different Switzerland experiences in our five days on the ground. The first few days we were there it was snowing in the Alps. We were there in celebration of the Jungfrau Railways 100th anniversary and our first full day in Interlaken began with a trip up to Kleine Scheidegg, where groups catch the trams up to the Top of Europe.
The Jungfraujoch is indeed Europe's highest altitude rail station. This massive station can be seen on a clear day from thousands of feet below, its gleaming silver exterior sitting atop a craggy cliffline just above the Aletsch Glacier. The railway that climbs into the Alps to serve the Jungfraujoch was envisioned by Adolfo Guyer-Zeller in 1893. Within three years of expressing his vision, the work began, and 16 years after that, the railway was completed in 1912. The Jungfraujoch station includes an ice bar, viewing decks, several restaurants and a gift shop. A playful ice palace burrows its way through the base of the structure, featuring whimsical creatures and carvings.
Our second day in snow was at Schynige Platte, an alpine preserve that is well-known for its flower gardens and walking trails. On a clear day, this place offers a wonderful view of the three signature peaks in the Bernese Oberland--the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. For us, it did not. But we had a wonderful lunch here and enjoyed touring its old mountain hotel. The restaurant was filled with diners and I spoke with the owners about a hike I hope to do some day from Schynige Platte to First. It's about an eight-hour hike and is offered in the summer as a full-moon hike as well.
Snowball fights broke out repeatedly within our group--most of them instigated by our intrepid tour director, Adrien Genier.
Our train engineer awaited his load of passengers from Wilderswil station up to Schynige Platte
This vista from the train up to Schynige Platte gives some idea of the weather we encountered on this day's excursion
There were no takers for any of these hikes on this day, but the day after was highlighted by bright blue skies
Even in snow, the alpine garden at Schynige Platte held forth dashes of color