June 28, 2016
We woke up to blue skies, sunshine, and no clouds, which was perfect for what we had decided to do today. Today was the day to take the trip up to the Jungfraujoch. So after breakfast we made some tea, got ourselves ready, and headed to the train station. Down to Lauterbrunnen and then up to Kleine Scheidegg we went. We had purchased our Jungfrau tickets at the Mürren station, so we needed to be up at the Kleine Scheidegg station for the 11:30 am Jungfrau train. It was a lot busier at Kleine Scheidegg than it had been yesterday—obviously a lot of people had the same idea as us. But we had seat reservations so we didn’t have to worry about standing in line forever. Anyway we had arrived in plenty of time for the 11:30 am train.
The journey up to the Jungfrau took about 45 minutes, including two stops in the tunnel section so you could get out and take photos. The first of those looked out over the Eiger wall (we couldn’t see any climbers) and the second over the ice field. Finally we reached the final station, the highest railway station in Europe.
As everybody streamed off the train we were caught in a madhouse of people entering the building. We could see that there were four floors of shops and restaurants, plus a tour of some displays and an elevator leading to a viewing platform. But neither of us liked the crowds, and we saw signs pointing to attractions outside, so we worked our way in that direction and got outside.
Outside you could go zip-lining or sit-skiing or tubing on the snowfield, and the views of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau mountains were absolutely amazing. But there was a stream of people heading across the snowfield on a well-worn track towards the Mönchsjochhütte. Forty-five minutes, the sign said, so we decided to go there. We were walking on snow the whole way, which was a bit hard on Rosemary’s knee. And we were at altitude, too: 3,500 meters above sea level, so that made it more tiring. But with the sun shining it felt warm, even though the actual temperature was close to freezing.
It took us just under 45 minutes to reach the hut, so we felt good about that. It was attached to a rock wall with strong-looking cables, out of the reach of avalanches. Flying around outside were the expected choughs, and inside we found the café. It’s possible to stay there overnight, but we didn’t go upstairs to check out the accommodations. Instead Paul had café crème and Rosemary had Waldbeeren Punch, which turned out to be fruit-flavoured powder to dissolve in hot water.
When we left the hut we had the whole trail to ourselves, unlike on the way up where it felt like the Chilkoot Trail with everyone coming down. The views were still amazing so we stopped numerous times to just enjoy. We had time before our 4 pm departure to go through the Ice Palace display and an area which gave a brief history of climbers and railway-builders. We passed by the Lindt shop (the highest chocolate shop in Europe) but it was packed with people so we didn’t even go in. We never did make it up to the viewing platform, but we had had plenty of beautiful views anyway.
By the time we got back to Mürren it was 6:30 pm, so we went along the road to the Edelweiss Hotel for dinner. The evening was so nice, we sat out on the terrace. Paul had a rösti casserole with a fried egg and Rosemary had grilled lamb chops; both were very tasty. For dessert we shared an apple strudel with vanilla sauce.
June 29, 2016
Our last day in Mürren, and once again we woke up to good weather. Today’s plan was to go to Schynige Platte, so after we finished breakfast we headed off to the train station. We arrived just in time for the train, and Rosemary tried to hurry and unfortunately reinjured the knee as a result. But we did catch the train and once down in Lauterbrunnen we caught the train down to Wilderswil, which took about 15 minutes.
That’s where the Schynige Platte line starts. It may not be the oldest railway line in the Jungfrau area but it certainly has the oldest rolling stock. We got into one of the classic passenger cars with canvas windows which could be rolled down in the case of wind or rain; no need for that today, though. Our little train rattled up the very steep track, which is only 7.25 kilometers long and rises an impressive 1,420 meters, and after about 45 minutes we arrived at the top.
There’s a hotel at the top station, as well as a botanical garden. As we walked towards the hotel we could hear alphorns being played, so we stopped to watch. The couple playing the horns were very friendly and let us try playing them. It’s not hard to make a noise by blowing into an alphorn but playing a recognizable piece of music would take a bit of practice. Then we found a bench to eat our lunch at; the views across the valley to the big mountains were very impressive despite the clouds.
After lunch we headed out on a trail to a viewpoint which overlooked Interlaken and its lakes, Thun and Brienz. We had originally planned to do the long walk from here to First, above Grindelwald, but with Rosemary hobbling along on her painful knee we couldn’t consider that. But anyway the sign at the station had said it was closed. However the viewpoint trail continued along the ridge, so we decided to follow it for a while. It went through a fantastic landscape with rock towers rising from the meadows, and as always the meadows were full of alpine flowers.
When we got to the junction where the First trail turned off there was a helicopter working, transferring large bags of rocks to a place about 200 meters down the trail. We waited for a while because it wasn’t safe to go into the work area, but when the helicopter paused at its pickup point the workers beckoned us and several others to go ahead. So we carried on, turning onto the trail back to the station, but before we got very far the helicopter came back with another large bag of rocks and made a low pass over us. Not exactly ideal helicopter safety!
We headed back to the station through an area which looked ideal for marmots, although we didn’t see any. We found ourselves in the botanical garden, where there are something like 600 species of alpine plants. Yes, we had seen a lot of flowers but not nearly that many species. We sat at the station and finished off our tea and apples before deciding we might as well head back to Mürren, since the trains ran every 40 minutes.
Back in Mürren we decided to have dinner at the Hotel Blumental, where we’d eaten a few days ago. Both of us had the special of chicken breast in orange liqueur sauce with rösti nuggets and broccoli. It was an enjoyable way to spend our last night in the area, sitting outside with the beautiful mountains to look at.
Next: Tour du Mont Blanc