We took the bus down from Beatenberg and then trekked to the Interlaken Ost Railway Station from the Interlaken West Railway Station. Since the Interlaken Ost Railway Station is strategically placed across the town, we got to meander through the famous Höheweg (the main street in Interlaken), passing by the Höhematte (a big green field).
We boarded a train to Lauterbrunnen. It was all so scenic that I’ll let the photos do the talking.Nestled between two giant rock faces and with 72 whopping waterfalls, Lauterbrunnen is ideal for hiking and we even saw several hikers from the train. One of the highlights is the Staubbach Falls, where the water plunges almost 300 meters from an overhanging cliff face. In fact, it was the inspiration for Goethe’s renowned poems.The train ended at Lauterbrunnen so we got out and changed to the train heading to Kleine Scheidegg. We went through Wengen, a small town with the ultimate mountain experience, going through the car-free Lauberhorn village where I couldn’t help imagining myself living at the foot of the Lauterbrunnen valley, bordered by the panoramic Bernese Alps and the Jungfrau in the background.
The train stopped at Kleine Scheidegg, at the foot of the Eiger North face, home to Switzerland’s most impressive hiking tours, where we switched to the cog-wheel train to the Jungfraujoch.
The train then climbed through the steep ascents through a long tunnel through the Eiger and Mönch mountains, stopping at Eigerwand (2685m) and then at Eismeer (3010m), where passengers can get off to enjoy the snowy panoramic views. The train then stopped at the Jungfraujoch terminal, the highest point at 4158-meters (or 13, 642 ft) tall reachable by rail in Europe.
Once we had descended from the train, it was quite cold, so we all put on our windbreakers, beanies and gloves. Then we went in…The Jungfraujoch complex nestles below the summit of the Jungfrau and the Mönch, and it is a huge attraction and there’s lots to do, ranging from shopping at the souvenir shops and dining at the restaurants and coffee shop to going out to the Sphinx observatory and observation deck, and roaming the Ice Palace and the open air Ice Plateau.
Just close to the railway station is the Ice Palace, a series of tunnels raved into the ice with lots of ice sculptures. Since it was slippery inside due to the ice, we skipped it as my wheelchair wouldn’t have worked. Though it looked like it would have made for cute photo ops. Then we went to the Jungfrau Panorama – a 360° panorama video experience of the mountain, which was okay. Since it was a gorgeous day, we could see the mountains quite clearly, so this was unnecessary for us on this particular day.
We then carried on to the Alpine Sensation, a 250-meter long corridor between the Sphinx Hall and Ice Palace. The frosty temperatures, music and the displays bring to life the beginnings of the Jungfraubahn, together with the images from the time of the Swiss tourism visionaries. It really explains the sacrifices of the miners at the time who built such a magnificent infrastructure that can host hundreds of visitors at a go on top of a mountain!
We carried on to the Ice Plateau by the Aletsch glacier. To be honest, it was difficult getting up to the floor to access the Ice Plateau. Dad and Diva went to find out how to get me up to access the ice plateau. They eventually found out that I needed to use a Euro Key (which gives the physically disabled accessibility to public facilities) to get up.And I was finally on the Ice Plateau! Because I don’t have snow-wheels, I couldn’t get out much, but I did get onto the snow. And of course, I touched some and endured frozen hands for a bit.
The Aletsch glacier, at 23 KM long, is the largest glacier in the Alps, but like most glaciers in the world, it’s retreating. People can also hike across the glacier.Other attractions also include the Sphinx viewing platform, an eponymous rock formation that has an observatory and an international research station. Somehow, we missed this, but it’s okay as I was beyond excited to spend on the snowy Ice Plateau with the gigantic glacier in view, flanked by the snow-covered peaks.
The Mönchsjochhütte is also a popular stop. The highest-altitude service hut in Switzerland is only accessible from the Jungfraujoch on a marked footpath in 45 minutes, offering breath-taking views of the Swiss Alps, making it a unique way to enjoy the Swiss mountain life.
To warm up after checking out the ice plateau, we went to the coffee shop and got some coffee and Masala Chai. As you probably know by now, I’m not much of a tea drinker. But this Masala Chai was delightfully sweet and warming to the soul. It may have even been the best Masala Chai I have ever had. Sorry, Mom!
Then, we browsed through the Top of Europe shops, perusing for the perfect fridge magnet.
Tired, we decided to head back to Interlaken, and with trains arriving every half hour, this wasn’t too hard. Unfortunately, we couldn’t head back on the train as there was no wheelchair access, so the Jungfraubahn staff gave us free coffee vouchers. So it was back to the Masala Chai paired with some Lindt chocolate from the gift shops.
We decided to take a different route back to Interlaken. So first, we went to Kleine Scheidegg on a cog rail train where all passengers got some complimentary chocolate, which was nice to warm us up. Then in Kleine Scheidegg, we got onto a train to Grindelwald. Embedded in a unique Alpine landscape at the foot of the Eiger north face, the famous mountain village – Grindelwald, is literally situated amidst the Bernese Alps. A hiker’s paradise with a wide range of recreational activities amidst unspoiled nature awaits to be discovered. It is an ideal starting point for excursions to the Jungfrau region.
Then, from there, we took the final train down to Interlaken.At each train station, the ever helpful staff would always call the train stations ahead to alert them of the wheelchair passenger(s) onboard so they would always be ready with ramps or manual wheelchair lifts. It was nice not to worry about having to do it ourselves.
Photos by Hitesh & Diva Shah