Oh Switzerland. My mind struggles to recreate the memory of the sheer beauty of the Swiss Alps – Such pristine natural magnificence, littered with charming flower-box bearing villages. A land so magnificent that my heart yearns to return, my eyes longs to admire the landscape until the end of time and my bank account weeps at the suggestion.
They say you can’t put a price on beauty. They are wrong. Admiring the beauty of this part of the world comes at a cost. But travelling is the only thing you can buy which makes you richer, right? Wrong. You will want to go back. And that will make you poorer. You will be sucked into a vortex of expensive Swiss travel addiction and will probably end up selling some semi-vital organs just to admire the view again. Well hopefully you won’t get that desperate, but there is a risk. It’s a very pretty place.
The Swiss Alps was one of my first destinations on my European journey and I instantly fell in love. As we crossed the French border the landscape became more dense and lush, the gorgeous wooden houses blending perfectly into the grand alpine landscape towering beyond. After spending the last week in capital cities, our journey into the country was leading us to the picturesque natural getaway our tourist hearts craved.
We arrived at our campsite just in time for some intense rainfall. We were given the opportunity to pay for an upgrade to cabin accommodation and being the wuss that I am, I did. (Keeping in mind this was prior to me moving to one of the rainiest countries in the world). The rain decided to keep us company for our entire stay in Switzerland so there was not a moment of regret, (until I checked my bank account).
The next day presented itself with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Really, really expensive once-in-a-lifetime opportunities… I wanted to go skydiving. I really, really did. But it was week one and I really couldn’t justify spending 430 francs (plus 140 for the video) on 10 minutes. A girls gotta’ eat. So 200 francs later I had a train ticket. But not just any train ticket. A train ticket to the top of Europe.
I know what you’re thinking. “Wow Kat, that’s amazing. You can go to the top of Europe just by sitting on a train for a couple of hours!?”. No. You cannot. The Jungfraujoch is just the highest train station on the continent. Located at 3,454 metres above sea level visitors can apparently gain access to a “high-Alpine wonderland of ice, snow and rock, which they can admire from the viewing platforms on the Aletsch Glacier or in the Ice Palace”. Lies.
The only thing we gained access to was the most intense blizzard I have ever experienced in my life. (Keeping in mind that as an Australian I have not witnessed an extensive range of blizzards).
We were told that from the top of the mountain we would have the magnificent view of Switzerlands 3 bordering countries. Lies.
We were also told we would have the opportunity to ski from the top of the mountain. Lies.
The moment we walked outside of building we were lost in a storm of wind and ice. In a haze of bad squinty and windswept photos we managed to make it a few meters from the entrance and immediately retreated back inside.
I must admit the Ice Palace was cool, even if it was an extreme safety hazard for an Australian who struggles not to slip over on concrete…
Even though there was an air of disappointment over the day, the train ride was truly magnificent. Switzerland is really one of the most magnificent landscapes I have had the opportunity to admire and a journey to the ‘Top of Europe’ offers you hours of postcard-perfect scenery through train window.
After a night of shots, cider and Swiss mountain nightlife we departed the valleys of Switzerland with heavy hearts and alcohol-induced headaches.
Jungfrau, you left a whole in my pocket but stole a piece of my heart. I have fallen victim to your beauty and I will return. Preferably free-falling through your magnificently clean skies, and skiing down your breathtaking slopes on a beautifully sunny day…