Too much of a good thing

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
Thursday, June 8, 2006

We had decided the previous evening that taking advantage of our geographical location overrides the financial contraints of traveling. Or - we are only in Switzerland this one time so bugger the money and go up the proper mountain instead of some lesser one.

Tip #19: If you are traveling with a child fifteen years or younger, the very first thing you should do upon your arrival in Switzerland is purchase a Junior Travel Card for 20 Swiss francs (AUD $22). This allows your child to travel free of charge on any Swiss public transport as long as they are traveling with you. This includes the Jungfraubahn.

We rocked up to the Jungfraubahn at Lauterbrunnen station and were pleasantly surprised that the BOSS's travel card allowed her to go free of charge and that my fare was also less than expected. The little yellow cog train has only four carriages with really uncomfortable wooden seats and are packed with day trippers.
Tip #20: on the Jungfraubahn make sure you are sitting on the right hand side - this is the side that has the views.

You forget how uncomfortable the seats are when you see the spectacular mountains getting closer and closer. The BOSS and I spent quite a lot of time picking out houses in which we would like to live.

We changed trains at Kleine Scheidegg station to a much more comfortable little red train which goes ten kilometres through the middle of the mountain. It stops twice at viewing platforms cut into the side of the mountain where we were able to disembark for five minutes to take amazing photos of amazing views.

Tip #21: Even if it is a lovely 24o day in the valley, take every stitch of warm winter clothes with you up the Jungfrau.

The weather was once again a stunningly clear day with very little wind and it only felt like -2o instead of the -5.7o reported on the noticeboard. The tourist complex they have built at the top is quite spectacular. There are several different sections including the observation tower, commonly known as the sphinx. The ice caves are a joke and the prices in the restaurant are, as expected, even more of a joke.

We spent about two hours outside on "the top of Europe" where the BOSS got to try snowboarding for the first time. It is perhaps NOT the best activity to be learning at 3500m where the air is thin. She did not last long but managed to stay upright once the snowboard was switched from right foot forward to left. Video evidence coming.

The train trip down the mountain was just as spectacular but by this time it was fairly late in the afternoon and our plans to get to Gimmelwald were becoming impractical. Unfortunately the Valley Hostel could not accommodate us but they rang around and booked us into the cabins at the campground. BIG MISTAKE. No cooking facilities, no fridge, outside toilet and showers, noisy neighbours, no view and uncomfortable beds. Not pleasant at all. Not a good way to end a prefect day.

We spent the evening repacking our panniers and eliminating excess weight.

Tip #22: Most useless article we have carted all over Europe - our sleeping bags and silk sleeping bag liners (altogether cost nearly $300). We have used them twice and both times we didn't actually need to. The Hostels and Backpackers now supply all linen and blankets or doonas. This is to stop the spread of bed bugs which were apparently rife through all budget accommodation.

01 Top of Europe
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