We just wanted to get down
Gimmelwald, Schweiz (Switzerland) – Lauterbrunnen, Stechelberg, Kleine Scheidegg, Jungfrau
After breaky, I got my latest update on the journal done and then headed out. I took the cable car down to Stechelberg and caught a bus from there to Lauterbrunnen and walked to the train station. I caught the train to Kleine Scheidegg with stops along the way. Oh so scenic. The train (Jungfraubahn) climbs the mountains at a fairly steep grade. It’s a cogwheel train meaning that the tracks have a center rail that is notched. The train has gears that fit the notches and that allows the train to climb; and not run away out of control when going downhill.
The views along the way of Lauterbrunnen in the valley, farms on the sides of the mountains, cows and goats grazing, waterfalls, and chalets; it just makes you feel like you’re uh in another country. I changed trains in Kleine Scheidegg to another line that goes to the Jungfrau, a peak in the Alps at over 11,000 feet. To get there, it goes up of course, at a steep grade, and it goes through the Eiger to the other side and then to the top of Jungfrau. The last half hour is through a tunnel cut through the mountains.
It stops a couple of times in the tunnel to let you get out and have a look at the view through big windows cut in the side of the mountain. Finally at the top, the highest rail station in Europe, there’s quite a bit to do; an ice palace with sculptures, a movie and mini museum, restaurants, shops, an observatory, dog sledding, skiing, and more. I had a walk outside on the deck and there was plenty of fresh snow that was packed and had been melting, it was a little hairy getting around, pretty slippery. They told us that Europe’s largest glacier is here and is 11 miles long. I’m not so sure that’s right, I thought the largest was in Norway or Sweden. It was big though. I did have some symptoms off and on of altitude sickness while at the top; a little dizziness and it was sometimes hard to catch a breath. A very strange feeling, it was very disturbing.
The top was cool and all, but I think I enjoyed the journey up best of all. It was about three hours and a little longer coming back because the connections didn’t quite work out as nicely as they did going up. The journey back down was difficult, especially in the cave. It seemed everyone else on board shared the sentiment, we just wanted to get down. Many were trying to sleep, which was especially difficult for those of us that got stuck in a forward facing seat, which had us in a constant forward leaning position which was very uncomfortable. It was all I could do to keep from falling forward out of the seat. But we managed. I felt a lot better once we got down to the lower altitudes, although I have a killer headache to contend with.
I got back to Ester’s around 6:00 and just as I arrived at Gimmelwald on the cable car it started to rain, and then thunder. Chris and Lainy were making their supper and I started making mine. David and Nicole showed their faces, apparently David has been down with a bug of some sort, we were all kind of worried about them. New arrival Phoebe from Corvalis, OR is in my old room and I’m in my new room. After dinner, I started writing and I’m going to call it a night. It’s been an exhausting day. Tomorrow, I head back to France. I called the hostel in Chamonix this morning to make a reservation for tomorrow. The lady that answered the phone did not speak any English, but in my pigeon French, I got the job done.