OUR OCTOBER VACATION

On Tuesday morning, October 1st, a taxi picked us up from our house and took us to the airport for a 90 minute flight to Atlanta and then a 9 hour flight nonstop to Zurich, Switzerland. On Wednesday morning, we landed in Zurich to begin our seven day journey through the beautiful high alpine regions of that magical, mountainous, and snow capped land...

 

Once, in Zurich, we spent the entire day resting from the travel, and then early Thursday morning we took a bus to the high alpine town of Interlocken where we stayed for two days. Interlaken is a very small town situated between two very large and beautiful lakes. Inter is the German word for between and laken is the German word for lakes, Interlaken, between two lakes. This small town also sits at the feet of the three tallest snow capped mountain peaks in Switzerland. They are the Eiger, the Munsch, and the Jungfrau being the tallest.  In fact, Jungfrau is not only the tallest mountain in Switzerland but also the tallest peak in all of Europe, it stands 13,642 feet at the summit plateau of this towering giant.

 

Well...  with all our travels and with all the places we've seen, the one thing we still had never done is trek to the top of a gigantic and magnificent snow capped mountain, so, we thought trekking to the top of Mount Jungfrau, the tallest snow capped peak in all of Europe would be the perfect opportunity to get that experience under our belt.  Hey, after all, we were already in Switzerland, and those huge mountains are there to climb, so how can we not attempt the summit of the giant itself, Mount Jungfrau???
My wife and I looked at each other with a sheepish smile, we then shook out heads yes in excited agreement.  So, the decision was made, our plan was to attempt our assault to the summit plateau of Mount Jungfrau early the next morning.  Call us crazy, but, it was the chance of a lifetime!!!Below is an airplane photo of Mount Jungfrau, this is the tallest mountain in Switzerland and also in all of Europe, it's the "big one" itself...

 

Early the next morning, after a good night's sleep and after a good breakfast, we began our trek to the summit of the tallest mountain in Europe, Mount Jungfrau.  We took a bus to the train station at Interlaken Ost.  There, we took a train to Grundt, a small village at level 1 base camp of Mount Jungfrau, about 7000 feet in elevation.   Those in the group who had difficulty breathing at 7000 feet were asked to stay and wait for our return...  from there we took another train up a very steep incline to an area just at the tree line, a station at the end of the line at a place called Kleine Scheindegg. This is the highest altitude train service in the world...  from there, we continued on foot to the big glacier area which would take us to the summit itself.The glacier ice had been there for many thousands of years. The ice was very smooth and very slippery, much like walking on the ice at an ice skating rink. Also, it was brutally cold and the air was very thin, there was very little oxygen in the air above 10,000 feet, so we had to move slowly or risk not being able to catch our breath.  My wife was in front of me and was moving more quickly since I stopped for a moment to take in the view, so I tried to step more quickly to catch up.  After about two hurried steps, I felt as if I had run a mile, the air was so thin, we had to breath very slowly and deeply and move in slow motion in order not to burn our oxygen too quickly.
We trekked another 3,000 feet in altitude through a natural tunnel cut through the glacier.  It was extremely slippery and brutally cold, we stepped slowly and carefully in a single file while holding on to the rope...  when we reach the top of that tunnel there was a very bright opening.  That opening led us to the summit plateau itself at 13642 feet...  Although it was called a plateau, it was still inclined, and at the top of that incline was the Swiss flag planted there in the exact same spot the original climbers planted the earlier original Swiss flag in 1811.
The instant we left the glacier tunnel and walked out into the open air at the summit, it was bright and sunny, you had to wear goggles or sun glasses to avoid getting blinded by the sunlight.  The temperature of the air was -21 F, it was mercilessly cold, it seemed unearthly...  and the air was very dry,  there was no wind at all, you could see for hundreds of miles in every direction, and everything was below us.   Looking about two miles down we were looking at the tops of the clouds.  If your skin were exposed to the air for any length of time, you would get terrible freezer burn.I took lots of pictures at the top, also several great videos...  below is a picture I took from the summit plateau itself where we stood, you can see other teams and trekkers attempting the summit plateau at the lower left about 1800 feet below us, they looked like little ants as they followed our trail up to the summit where we stood...

The weather could change very quickly, so we were very lucky to have a clear and windless day to make the assault...

Our descent down Jungfrau was also very beautiful, when we reached the train station at Kleine Scheindegg, we then went to a small village called Lautenbrunnen high in the alpine valley, there were cows in the meadow, and each cow had a giant bell around their necks...  you could hear the bells in the distance...  in the middle of the town there was a very large waterfall of snow melt coming down the mountain wall from the higher snow caps...  again, the name of the town was Lautenbrunnen...    lauten is German for loud and brunnen is German for fountain, so the name of the town was "loud fountain" or Lautenbrunnen because of the beautiful and loud waterfall there...

Below is a photo of beautiful Lautenbrunnen...

It took us all day to descend Jungfrau and return to our hotel where we were able to warm up and get a solid night's sleep after the Jungfrau trek...  then, the next evening, we went to a typical Swiss Rathaus in Interlaken...  the homemade beer was flowing, there was a small stage in the Rathous where one of the waitresses did some yodeling and taught us how to yodel, then four guys played the 15 foot long Alpine horns, we sang, we laughed, we ate, we drank, we fell in love again, we were there for hours, the food was so delicious and only to be followed by an incredible chocolate fondue dessert, yes, Swiss chocolate of course...

And so went our amazing 7 day land tour through beautiful Switzerland...  we visited Bern, Lucerne, and then on to lake Como in Northern italy before we finally arrive in Venice, Italy to begin our 17 day cruise through the Mediterranean and across the Atlantic home to the U.S....

Below is the link to the YouTube video I made of the Grand Canal in Venice aboard the Royal Princess, this video is 12 minutes long and was taken from our cabin balcony...  enjoy...

More to come...

 

 

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