It was the call of the white fairies. A call very clear and distinct. It was from every corner. I could clearly see these white beauties all around. Tall and sturdy, pure and white, adorned with the necklace of green, looking down from the blue sky, it was an epitome of beauty. Who can ignore such call? So I followed the direction.
What do you think? What am I talking about? Yes, you got it right. I am talking of the snow clad mountain ranges of the Alps. I was already in trance of Interlaken. And I am yet to visit another wondrous place. That too to the top of Europe, yes to a saddle in the Alps – Jungfraujoch. My train journey to Jungfraujoch was like a fairy tale. So is the rest of my trip.
Blaming the efficient transport system to spoil us. We never hesitated to take public transport. We boarded a bus even for a very short distance to Interlaken OST. Down from the bus and straight into the train. Yes, almost so. The bus stop and the train station in most places are located side by side. I tell you, they sure will spoil you.
The best part of the public transport was no standing passengers. They were never totally filled and always had ample of available seats. The small population of the country may be the primary reason. While the tourist season may see a rise in the number of daily commuters through public transport.
Taking the seat on one side and remaining glued to it never seemed sufficient. As the train winded through the serpentine tracks, the views changed from side to side. So did I shift from left to right and again back. I was overjoyed with the childlike excitement. I sometimes imagine how mother nature brings out the child within us in such unexpected way. That even at such age, one jumps for a better window view in a train.
The train ran through the countrysides, beside the water canal probably the drainage channel for the melting snow from the mountains. The residential buildings were mostly farm houses with their adjoining cattle farm and the cattle feed wrapped in rectangular piles all heaped up by the side. There were also timber stocks, stacked up by the other side. While the weather outside was still very gloomy.
Many passengers decked up with their skiing gear were seen boarding the train from every stops. This was their favourite winter sport. People from every age group and gender participated in the sport with great enthusiasm. Some were seen boarding the train alone while others in groups. Some elderly and aged people too were seen to carrying their skies and boarding the train. I was shocked to see their mental strength and the spirit. At once I bowed in respect and reverence to their sporty spirit.
The sheet of snow was increasing and growing thicker. Then the white sheet was seen dotted with tiny black spots in motion. The curious me tried to inspect the mysterious moving dots. On close observation, the mystery was uncovered. They were the skiing enthusiasts gliding through the smooth snow. The gloomy weather after a little shower changed to bright and windy. The vibrant blue sky seemed brighter with the warm rays getting reflected back from the white cover of the mountains.
Now it was the ticket checking time. The Ticket Checker saw our rail pass for the route and informed us that we had to get the tickets in exchange for the pass. He politely asked us to get it done in the next station. As we deboarded the train to get the proper tickets we realised the chill outside. To our shock, we saw the ticket checker kept the train waiting for us. He signalled us to board the train and after that, the train was on its path again. I am sure to remember this kind gesture for the rest of my life. Once again I realised people makes places even more beautiful.
We reached Kleine Scheidegg station. This was a total Snowland. All under the white fluffy snow. It was the last stop for the skiing participants. Even we had to get down to change the train for Jungfraujoch. As the train moved on the steep slope, the view was of white and only white surrounding. There was a cable car station nearby the next rail station. The vibrant yellow coloured cars dangling from the rope transferring passengers from one station to the other and thus to the other hill.
Then through the series of tunnels and lofty mountain ranges we reached our final destination. Yes, we were at the top of Europe – Jungfraujoch. The ‘top of Europe’ building at the end of the tunnel from the train station has many storeys leading to various restaurants, alpine trail, ice museum, the famous Lindt Swiss Chocolate heaven and the top most level of the sphinx observatory.
The biting cold with the blizzard can be felt even from the interior. The temperature reading was showing -11° C with the wind speed of 33 kph. The eating joint was great relief selling all hot beverage and other eatables too. The Bollywood (or shall I say the Indian) influence was felt here too. The food tags were written in English as well as Hindi. It seemed we were in some Indian tourist destination. 🙂
There was a coin press machine. And a few options to choose from to mint your own coin to carry it back home. It allowed only swiss coins. The denominations were also mentioned. We worked as per the instruction and rotated the wheel for seven times. And ta-da! Our self-made coin was ready. It was much of fun.
The Lindt Chocolate heaven was my most favourite among all the other spots here. The small balls of this heavenly delicacy melt in the mouth and give the aftertaste of the ‘manna dew’. And I went crazy after the taste. Purchased a lot of the roundlets and my mouth was busy for the rest of my trip. The ice museum within the icy tunnels was like some slippery glass chamber with the models of various animals.
After reaching the top of the observatory it was tough to get out in open. The strong gust of nippy winds was hard to tolerate. It was like rushing out and in seconds returning back. Thus braving the chilly weather we enjoyed visiting every spot in the building and happily returned to the train to descend back. And then again the Ticket Checker came for his round of duty. He checked the tickets and smilingly gave us chocolates before going to the other passengers. Ah! What a beautiful chocolate affair.
I am floored by the beauty of the place the warm gesture of the residents and also the taste of my all time favourite Lindt chocolates. In every part and every corner, I can feel the warmth even in this freezing environment. Thus saying farewell to the icy haven we descended back to my stunning stay at Interlaken.