Sunday, October 20, 2013

Journey Through the Alps - Grindelwald and Jungfraujoch

We arrived in a town called Grindelwald in the early evening.  We checked into our hotel and beheld the views!
The Eiger!!  It stood looming over us - rising to 13,000 feet above sea level.  The Eiger has been tempting climbers since the 1930s and has claimed more than 60 lives of people trying to reach its summit.

That night as we wandered through the town - we saw a light up on the mountain - climbers attempting an ascent.  I was not jealous of the cold night ahead of them!
A panoramic view from our hotel.

The next morning we boarded the train to Kleine Sheidegg - and eventually to the Jungfraujoch.  The train travels through a tunnel that goes through the Eiger and is the highest railway in Europe.  It is about 1 1/2 hour ride.

Looking back...
It looks like a painting!

Closer to the ice caps.

The Sphinx Observatory - our destination.

The Jungfraujoch is a saddle between two peaks - the Jungfrau and the Monch.
There were many activities for the tourists - a zipline, a small ski slope, and a couple of observation decks.  These people were hiking to one of those observation towers.

Snowball throwing.

That is one big snow blower!

Lichen - amazingly can grow in the harshest of climates.
A gigantic river of ice carved through this valley.

The Monch.
The Jungfrau.
In the 1930's two men decided to carve an ice tunnel which eventually became a large ice cave with many rooms and halls. 

And Scrat!

And Sherlock Holmes!

Another view of the Jungfrau.  We felt so fortunate that the skies had cleared and we had such spectacular views!

More lichen.

There were many huge crevices in the glaciers.
On our way back down - you can see the tunnel the train goes through.

For lunch - we felt like fondue would be appropriate.  It is the Swiss national dish after all!  We ordered two different kind of cheese fondue (sans alcohol) and for dipping they served cubed bread, onion rings, pickles, pickled onions, pickled mini corn cobs and jacketed potatoes.
Earlier that morning the Arnolds saw the cows being led through the main street of town - with their traditional bells and flower wreaths.  They do this every season when they bring the cows and sheep down from the mountain pastures.  We were sorry to miss it!
In preparation for this trip we had watched a few episodes of Rick Steves in which he talked about how the many different private farms in Swizterland make their own cheese - called Alpkase.  We were on the lookout to find some as we drove out of Grindelwald later that afternoon.  We had seen this sign earlier in the day but didn't stop.  Finally we saw a sign and pulled off the road.
The farmer took us around the back of his cow barn to his home where we saw his cheese cellar.
His wife spoke with Brad in German about how the cheese is made and dated and aged.

And then we bought two different samples to take with us.  One that was made last year and one that was made this year.  We ate it later with fruit and bread - the perfect European meal.

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