We woke up bright and early and headed down to grab some yummy Swiss breakfast (which the hotel was kind enough to put out early for the folks who were taking the early bird train up to Jungfrau). Then we trotted down the only street in town to the train station and hopped on board.
The train ride up the mountain to Jungfrau, the highest point in Switzerland, was nothing short of breath-taking. From the window we watched as the scenery transformed from lush green countryside to cold snowy mountains right before our eyes.
Eventually we reached the top and hopped off the train and found ourselves plopped down in a wintery wonderland. We wandered out of the train station and looked across miles of snow and ice. Several people headed out to do some intense mountain climbing and we looked on at them in amazement as they braved the elements.
We went inside to the Jungfrau center, grabbed a hot chocolate, and made our way to the Ice Palace (I think that was what it was called). It was basically a long tunnel and several rooms made completely, floor to ceiling, of ice. There were ice sculptures of eskimos and animals throughout and we had a wonderful time sliding along the ice, pretending to skate. We both did pretty well until I got a little too crazy and ended up on my bottom. Embarrassing, yes. Fun? Yea, that was pretty fun, too.
Then we headed up the stairs to a lookout area covered in snow. We walked around, bundled up as best as we could, taking pictures and taking it all in. Even though there were other tourists there, the place seemed to have a still calm about it. We were looking out, above the clouds and surrounded by snow, when we suddenly heard a loud rumble. We were so taken aback that nobody moved. No one reached for the camera or spoke a word. We all stood there, stunned, and look toward the sky where the sound had come. In the blink of an eye, two planes (I don’t know anything about planes, but they seemed like bombers or jets or some sort of fancy fast-flying planes) zipped just above our heads, turned in the air, and flew off. It was one of those incredible, jaw-dropping moments and we were just frozen (not literally, despite the climate) for a moment. Then Chad and I looked at each other in disbelief. Had we just seen that? Was that real? What an amazing moment!
We wandered around the snowy world a little longer and then boarded our train that would take us back down to Lauterbrunnen. We stopped along the way in another town for some delicious brats, rosti, and beer. It had already been such an incredible day and it was only about noon.
After we ate, we headed back to Lauterbrunnen, changed into warm-weather clothes, and went out for a hike. We thought we were headed along the road that would take us to Murren, a nearby town that many other hikers said they were going to. However, we must have missed the turn because we never found that town. We walked about 3 miles through the countryside, and were surprised to see base jumpers jumping off the mountains along the way. Apparently they were all practicing for a competition that would be happening the following day.
They were amazing to watch. At first they looked like little birds flying through the air. Then they’d suddenly pull their shoot and drift down into a patch of grass like they were just floating in a hot air balloon. We had a great time watching them and even chatted with one of them along our hike. He was from the U.S. and was very upset that he wasn’t allowed to do such base jumping at Yosemite.
After our 3 miles out, 3 miles back hike, we had worked up a good appetite for another delicious Swiss meal. We returned to the same restaurant and sample more delicious Swiss cuisine. There was an adorable little British girl seated with her family at the table next to us. It was so entertaining to listen to her talk and play throughout the meal. For some reason, she got it in her head that her side of the table was broken, and she kept telling her Dad, “We have to mend it, Daddy! Daddy, we have to mend it!” He’d pretend to fix the table with her as the family’s other child, a small baby, slept through the whole meal. At the end of their dinner, they were trying to decide what to order for dessert. The father asked the little girl if she’d like ice cream and she said, “Yes, ice cream….and a lollipop!” The father said, “I don’t think they have lollipops here.” And she said insistently, “And a lollipop!” The waiter said he’d see what he could do and returned later with the ice cream… and a lollipop! The parents were so surprised and the look on the little girl’s face was just priceless. The family was so adorable and made us imagine what it would be like to return to Lauterbrunnen someday with kids of our own.