Interlaken, Jungfraujoch, Zip Lining and Sledding in the Alps in June

The Swiss are very pedantic people.  Yesterday, when we  were checking out of our hotel, we were presented with a much higher bill than we had expected.  We were told that the rate  quoted to us was for one person and the hotel, therefore, adjusted the rate for two people.  We produced our reservation that didn’t say it was for one person, they produced their version of the reservation, for one person.  I explained to them that I couldn’t make a reservation online for 2 people, so I called my credit card company’s travel service and asked them to make a reservation for 2 people.  By now, every single girl behind the reception counter was standing in front of us staring us down and telling us that the price quoted was for one person, that they made a correction, and we should now pay the almost double rate.

Now, if it happened in the US, a manager would be called and the quoted rate would be honored, if it happened in Italy, a clerk would honor the rate without even consulting a manager, but here, we had a Mexican standoff and were causing an international scandal.

Finally, one of the receptionists offered to call our credit card in the US, and after 45 min. on international hold, our credit card company told us to pay the new bill and that they would reimburse us for the difference.   The customer is not always right here in Switzerland!

We are now in Interlaken,  a  town between two lakes.  We passed one of the lakes on the way here and it was  spectacular!  Unfortunately, it’s not visible from the town.  I don’t love Interlaken.  There is too much hoi-polloi here and no ice-cream pallors.  The town is surrounded by mountains, but they are too far in the distance.  In  hindsight, I should have booked a hotel in one of the towns higher up the mountain, such as Grindelwald, which is smaller, with less riff-raff, and smack in the middle of the most gorgeous mountain range.

Our main activity today was going to the high observation area of Jungfraujoch (“Top of Europe”, they call it)  To get to the top of Europe, we took a train to the highest train station in Europe located  at almost 12,000 feet.  The trip, including changing trains twice, took 2.5 hrs. each way.  The trains were completely packed, no leg room, you were lucky if you got a seat.  The last leg of the trip took us through a tunnel carved in the  mountain.  We were ordered to close all the windows (the tunnel’s roughly hewn wall was at an arm length from the windows).  We were at a high altitude, in a tunnel, with windows closed, and half of the train was occupied by an Indian clan who, apparently, stuffed their pockets or suitcases with tons of mothballs.  I gagged.   We emerged  half suffocated!

Evidently, this area is extremely popular with Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and North African tourists  Unfortunately for us, they don’t have our  Western notion concerning sharing  common space with other people.

We all spilled out into a long icy tunnel, and from there to the outside viewing platform.  There was snow as far as your eyes could see.  The view was spectacular but too many loud and pushy co-spectators took away from the pleasure.  Luckily, all they wanted to do was take photos of each other, so as soon as that was done, the platform emptied out of all but a few.

So we stayed alone with nature a bit and then went outside onto the glacier where I took a ride on a zip line off a mountain.  It was a short zip line ride, but fun nonetheless  While on Costa Rican zip lines, the riders were being caught at the end by the workers, here you had to land onto your own behind, which served as a brake.  So I skidded awhile on my tush, making my capris all wet and collecting snow in my back pockets.

Then, while Kenny was lounging in a recliner for non-participants, I went sledding.  This activity was most popular with women in head scarves and women in saris.

Amazing, how they manage with all this fabric around them!

Overall, I was not thrilled with the trip to Jungfraujoch, even though it was described as a must in several tour books.  Five hours on a crowed train exhaust you, and the view, while very impressive, pales in comparison to the views we saw on the way up.  To me, snow-capped mountains look much more spectacular from a lower elevation, looking up, than from the snowy top looking down.  I’d rather hike.

Back in town, I had the most outstanding Swiss chocolate and gooseberries from a local supermarket.  A yummy end to an exhausting day.

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One thought on “Interlaken, Jungfraujoch, Zip Lining and Sledding in the Alps in June

  1. Bess Koenigsberg says:

    I have quite a different memory from when we took this trip up the Jungfrau more than 20 years ago. The trip up was relaxing and there were no crowds. The scenery was beautiful!! When we went through the mountain tunnel, the train stopped at a window where we could look off the mountain. When we looked out, we saw the most spectacular rainbow off the side of the mountain. We could almost reach out and touch it. At the top there was little to do, except walk around in the snow. I was amazed at the birds flying around. I think we stayed at Grindelwald. I remember staying at a beautiful chalet on a mountainside. We hiked amongst the cattle and sheep grazing on the mountainside. I can’t believe it was so long ago.

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