We spent most of day nine in Europe exploring the Jungfrau on the opposite side of the valley from our hotel in Murren. To get there we cable carred down to Lauterbrunnen. Then we hopped on a train equipped with special teeth that grip a center rail for extra traction.
The train first stopped in the resort town of Wengen. Then we climbed higher and higher up the Jungfrau.
Jungfrau means mean young frauline or lady. The Jungfrau stands besides two other peaks. A Swiss fable says the Jungfrau is protected by a center peak called the Mönch or in English monk. This monk protects the Jungfrau from the Eiger (or in English ogre) on the opposite side of the Mönch.
Also of note, we passed a Chinese couple taking their wedding pictures out on a ledge. Chinese couples frequently travel here for wedding photos even though their ceremonies takes place elsewhere.
Then we switched trains at Kleine Scheidegg for a 30 minute climb up the Jungfrau. The train grinded below the Eiger and Monch until we stopped at the Jungfrau station.
This complex in and on the mountain spans nine floors. Outside visitors gaze at an 11 mile long glacier. A restaurant on the other side of a hill serves coffee. Inside we viewed historical models of the complex, a Lindt chocolate exhibit, and the Ice Palace. The Swiss cut a hole in the glacier and named it the Ice Palace. They installed handbars and lights in the glacier walls so people like us can strut, spin and slide in comfort.
Then we headed back down to Kleine Scheidegg. We lunched then hiked set out on a hike. The town of Gridelwald lay in the valley below.
Cows clanged their bells in the distance below us. I wanted to get up close and personal with a cow. I found a path down to some cows nearby. A leader-cow I approached had no desire for a close human encounter. I walked a little closer and that cow advanced toward me pushing me away with it’s head. I got the message.
Our hike ended at the Mannlichen cable car station. From there we headed down to Wengen, caught a train to Lauterbrunnen then ultimately returned to Mürren.
It began to rain. We met up with my mom and had dinner across the road from our chalet. After dinner we hopped over to a nearby vista to savor the last moments of daylight.
Stay tuned for our next episode when we explore the Murren side of the valley. We’ll head up to a former James Bond movie set, hike to a waterfall and more.
We began day eight of our European vacation at Lucern’s Lion Monument. This stone carving pays tribute to the Swiss guard who died protecting King Louis XVI during the French Revolution. The Swiss guard are known for their protective forces. Right by that monument is a tourist mecca with plenty of cowbell magnets for sale.
Then Carolyn and I walked to the old city walls. We climbed up one of the towers for an elevated view of Lucerne.
It was time to head to the train station and begin our journey to the high alps of the Berner Oberland. Our train zipped past lakes and mountains while heading to a transfer in Interlaken. Notably we passed lake Brienz where my parents vacationed decades before my time.
I appreciated the design of the Swiss rail clocks displayed throughout their train stations. In Interlaken we transferred to the Berner Oberland Bahn that pushes into the Lauterbrunnen Valley. After a 15 minute ride we arrived in Lauterbrunnen. This train station provides view of waterfalls and massive cliffs.
Across the street from the train station we hopped into a cable car. What a view! Our hotel rests on the edge of a cliff. After the cable car ride we transferred to a train at Stechelberg that grinds along the cliffs past cabins with valley views. We exited the train and walked to our chalet.
We dropped off our bags and went out for a stroll around Mürren. Carolyn pointed out the native eldeweiss flower. The town furnicular ascends to the village of Allmendhubel. We watched clouds roll in in this valley of 72 waterfalls.
We started our full day in Lucerne by walking the iconic Chapel Bridge. The Swiss built this bridge in the 1300s as part of the city defense system. The window openings on the south side of the bridge are smaller to give defenders more cover. The north side of the bridge opens to the city.
The bridge is decorated with artwork depicting the fishing town’s history.
We dressed in our Sunday best since we attended worship in the Jesuit church on the waterfront built in 1666. The service was entirely in German. Then we walked along the Reuss river. A spikey fence in the river maintains the water level of Lake Lucerne. Further downstream stands the Mill Bridge.
The original train station burned down. Inside the new station notice the expensive Burger King combo for $10.
Then we boarded a boat for a two-hour float on Lake Lucern. We saw beautiful homes and people playing on the lakeshore. The high alps beckoned in the distance, our destination for tomorrow. I wanted to get there and experience the high elevation change of pace.
We headed back into Lucerne and walked the bridges at sunset. Then we walked on the lakefront at twilight before calling it a night.
Stay tuned for our next episode when we take in a smidge more of Lucerne before heading to the high alps and the Jungfrau region.