Jungfrau Railway marks 100 years of picturesque journeys
The Dallas Morning News








Jungfrau Railway

The Jungfrau Railway, built in 1912, passes through the mountains of Switzerland. Travelers can view peaks from one side of the train and fields of wildflowers from the other. The Jungfrau is Europe's highest-altitude railway.
(Jungfrau Tourism)

 

 

“I could not get any higher,” I thought.

I was riding on Europe’s highest-altitude railway in a red cogwheel train that had moved past pine forests and rolling farmlands into a majestic mountain range. The technological feat built in 1912 was masterminded by Swiss entrepreneur Adolf Guyer-Zeller. His dream took 16 years to become real after many fatalities during construction. This year, the Jungfrau Railway celebrates its 100th anniversary.

 

The 1 1/2-half hour train journey passes through a dark tunnel carved into the face of the notorious Eiger Mountain where many climbers have tested fate but only few have survived. Our first stop was Eigerwand (Eiger Wall) with panoramic views of the Eiger’s North Face and the storybook town of Grindelwald, where the day before I had zip-lined down its First Mountain and walked through fields of wildflowers in a mountainous wonderland. Stop two, Eismeer (Sea of Ice), took me up to a massive glacier that seemed to stretch into infinity.

Once atop the Jungfrau station, I visited the Sphinx Observation Platform to view an ice-covered universe. Distracted by the views, I enjoyed lunch at a nearby restaurant and then visited the must-see Ice Palace, a frozen tunnel walkway adorned with creative ice carvings from seals to Disney characters.

On the return trip, my travel partner and I stopped at the Eigergletscher station (7,612 feet) for the newly opened Jungfrau Eiger Walk. Our 55-minute trek took us through green alpine meadows emblazoned with wildflowers and memories of the courageous mountaineers who attempted to climb the Eiger North Face. Memorabilia was displayed at the historic Mittellegi Hut and farther down the trail at a structure shaped like a small church, which displayed the various climbing routes of the North Face. Before reaching the Kleine Scheidegg Station, there was the aquamarine Fallbodensee Reservoir where rocks were carved with names and dates of all the climbers who died dating from the 1930s to present. Those rocks brought the danger and adventure of this region to stark reality.

 

As awe-inspiring as my rail journey was, it was the two car-free towns nestled against the ridges and cliffs at the foot of the Jungfrau that punctuated the splendor.

From Kleine Scheidegg, I took the train to Wengen, where the Jungfrau Marathon, the world’s most picturesque race, passes through on its way from Interlaken via Lauterbrunnen. My stay at the charming 19th-century Hotel Regina had amazing views of the Jungfrau from my window. The hotel is a four-minute walk to the station. It was nice to have my baggage waiting for me in my room, a service the Swiss railway offers to passengers coming from another town.

town of Murren

The dollhouse town of Murren lies nestled next to a mountain range with deep green valleys below.
(Beverly Mann)

 

Since 1984, owners Ariane and Guido Meyer make sure there is attention to detail. The guest doesn’t have to leave for dinner; two fine restaurants are in-house, the more reasonable Jack’s Brasserie and upscale Chez Meyer’s.

My dinner at the nearby Hotel Baron featured dishes with ingredients from the owner’s garden. I savored fresh spinach and polenta with a rump steak. Afterward, I walked off my dinner along a tree-lined pathway through the hillside lined by resort-style hotels and then strolled to the modest church below. Here I sat on one of the outside benches watching the lights flicker in the distant homes set in a backdrop of snow-capped mountains.

The next morning, with my Swiss Rail Pass in hand, I took the small train to the dollhouse town of Murren. I ran into a small problem with my baggage this time because it was over 25 kilos. I had to empty some books and other stuff from my bag in order to have it transported to the Hotel Alpenruh in Murren.

Murren, only reached via cable car, is what fairy tales are made of; it’s a tiny village cushioned in a spectacular mountain range with the deepest green valleys below. It is not unusual to spot hang gliders floating through the cloudless sky enjoying the surroundings.

 

Alps from Schilthorn

A 360-degree view of the Alps from Schilthorn.
(Schilthorn Tourism
)

However, it was the cable ride up from Murren to the revolving Piz Gloria Restaurant of Schilthorn, used in the 1969 James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service , where I was able to view 200 peaks and all three magnificent mountain ranges simultaneously: The Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau.

I had definitely reached the high point of my journey.

 

When you go

Rail Europe: Go to raileurope.com for Swiss train passes to go to Grindelwald, Murren, Wengen and Lauterbrunnen and cable rides (the Jungfrau train and cable to Schilthorn take separate passes). With Swiss Pass you get a 25 percent to 50 percent reduction on the ticket prices up to Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch, Top of Europe.

Jungfrau Railway: This pass is valid for six consecutive days for unlimited travel on the route network of the Jungfrau and is on sale from May through Oct. 31 for approximately $200. Jungfrau Railway, jungfrau.ch; myJungfrau.ch for information about the Jungfrau region; Schilthorn Cableways, schilthorn.ch

Hotels

Wengen: Hotel Regina, hotelregina.ch

Murren: Hotel Alpenruh, alpenruh@schilthorn.ch

Grindelwald: Hotel Eiger, eiger-grindelwald.ch

 

^top of page

Website design by
Freeman-Designs

Copyrighted 2008 - All Rights Reserved by Beverly Mann