A bit of information about these places, courtesy of Wikipedia (what else?);
Interlaken is located between Lake Brienz to the east and and Lake Thun to the west in the area called Bödeli. The town takes its name from its geographical position between the lakes (in Latin inter lacus).
Jungfrau (German "maiden/virgin") is one of the main summits in the Bernese Alps, situated between the cantons of Valais and Berne.
Jungfraujoch railway station which at an elevation of 3,454 metres is the highest railway station in Europe. The Jungfraujoch is often called `The Top Of Europe' in tourist literature.
It took about 2 and half hours drive from Geneva to Interlaken. Arrived at the Interlaken railway station at around 11.30 am. Its a small, beautiful and charming town with lots of traditional Swiss houses in the many villages scattered around it.
Our main aim were to go to Jungfraujoch, where the highest railway station in whole of Europe is located. I noticed a lot of Japanese and Arab tourists at the station.
Before I forget, Interlaken is in the German part of Switzerland and so they speaks German there. And nope, I cant speak German. All I know and remember about German language is `Achtung, Achtung, Americana!' which I picked up watching Combat tv series while growing up. Yes, thats right, the starring Rick Jackson and Vic Morrow thing.
We had with us our standard staple of of traveling food, which was bihun goreng and our friends brought seperiuk nasik putih plus ikan tenggiri masin, and lauk pauk yang sewaktu dengannya (cili api included). You read it right. Nasik seperiuk. (Dengan periuk, periuk sekali!). Well, the thing with that is, its difficult to find halal food, and after all, its just like going to a picnic. The only thing different is, this will be on top of a snow covered mountain rather than the usual beach, sun and sand. Like my current boss said, "Dah Melayu, campak kat mana pun style Melayu jugak".
Ticket to Jungfraujoch cost a whopping CHF 181.80 return. I was hesitant at first to buy the tickets since its too expensive but then I figured that this is the only way I would get to a mountain summit in my life without physically climbing it. With that in mind, I bought the damn expensive tickets (two tickets, one for me and one for my love one. Total CHF 363.60 @ RM 1,192.65) and parted with my valuable Swiss Franc. The sentence DO NOT CONVERT TO RM, DO NOT CONVERT TO RM kept on playing on and on in me head. The good news was that children with family rides for free. And that really saved me a lot, considering I was travelling with 3 children.
We had to switch train 3 times, at Wengen, Lauterbrunnen and Kleine Scheidegg stations.
The journey to the top took about 2 hours with fantastic views along the route.
Jungfraubahn (the train name) connects the final leg of the railway line from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch.
The trains here use the cog system to allow trains to operate on steep terrain.
It started to snow when we arrived at Kleine Scheidegg railway station. Yey!, for the snowfall in the middle of summer!. The children were jumping with joy.
From that last station, the railway lines entered the mountain and popped out near the summit of the Jungfrau mountain through a long 7.3 km tunnel.
We reached the top at the end of tunnel.
There were restaurants and souvenir shops. I smiled when I saw the sign of a Bollywood themed restaurant featured prominently near the entrance, greeting tourists. The long tentacles of Bollywood reached far and wide, even in the Alps.
Now, I considered myself as a fit 40 year old. I mean I jog for an hour in the morning and another hour in the evening, everyday without fail, but let me tell you that being at 3,454 metres on the top of a cold and snow covered mountain made me breathless. Climbing short stairs was really difficult and I had to do it slowly, one step at a time, gasping, and it really felt like there was not enough air entering my lungs. I guessed this is what they called altitude sickness. I felt lightheaded and giddy. All the children and others in my group felt the same and I noticed some of them, their faces became pale and their lips turned blue for lack of oxygen.
After a short while, a very light lunch and the mandatory photo shoot, and after a quick souvenir hunting, we decided we had enough of the thin cold air and went down from the summit, catching the earliest train we could get.
We all recovered from the altitude sickness immediately when we arrived back in Kleine Scheidegg railway station.
We reached Interlaken, with periuk and all, a little tired but satisfied. Views along the train route were wonderfully beautiful, but deep ddown we know that not a lot of people achieved what we did, . We ate nasik and ikan tenggiri masin with cili api on a all year round snow covered mountain top, 3,741 metres high, Top of Europe.
How many people can brag about that anyway ? Hehe.