Train to the top of Europe


Located 3,454 meters above sea level (or 11,332 feet, for those of us not used to the metric system), Jungfraujoch is a long ways up. Located in the Swiss Alps, it is known as the “top of Europe” even though its elevation is far from the highest in Europe. It is, however, the highest train station in Europe, straddled between two of the 4,000+ meter peaks in the Swiss Alps, Jungfrau and Mönch. Jungfraujoch is a popular tourist attraction known for its panoramic views on clear days, its ice palace, and its snow park, which provides fun in the snow, even in the middle of August.

Our trip to the top

During our short stay in Switzerland, the weather did not want to cooperate. It was not horrible by any means, but cloudy enough that Jungfraujoch (and across the valley, Schlithorn) was hidden behind the clouds most of the time. However, one morning we woke up early, checked the webcams (isn’t technology great?), and saw that the skies were clear. We got ready as quickly as possible and headed for the train station to get on the next train to the top from down in the Lauterbrunnen valley where we were staying, in the process completely changing out entire plan for the day. We arrived at the top before lunchtime, stunning views in every direction. After exploring, we went into the restaurant to sit down and have lunch and it wasn’t long after that the clouds rolled in and the views disappeared. We felt bad for all of the people who were arriving just after the views had completely disappeared. After lunch, we went out to the snow park to do some snow tubing and while the views looking down were long gone, the peaks of the nearby mountains were still visible. At least for a few minutes, until the clouds really rolled in and we found ourselves in a dense fog with snow falling down on us. In August. We headed back down the mountain to do the hiking we had planned on doing in the morning, but we didn’t realize until it was too late that our change of plans meant the cable car we were going to take down to the bottom of the valley would no longer be running by the time we arrived there, resulting in another crazy adventure before the day was over.

Mountains of the Swiss Alps alongside a train

Cloudy day at the Flatirons

Boulder, Colorado is a pretty great town. Not only is it home to the University of Colorado and a really cool downtown (breakfast at Snooze: an a.m. Eatery is delicious), the town has some great hiking that starts right in town, not to mention Rocky Mountain National Park being a short drive away. Chautauqua Park has several great trails with panoramic views of the city and the mountains bordering the city. The trail leading up to the Flatirons (which, as you can see, are appropriately named) in particular has some rather stunning views. As you can see, the clouds on this day looked a little menacing but not wanting to miss out on any of the views, I pushed on with my hike as long as possible. By the time I got back to the trailhead, the rain was pouring down pretty good, but it was well worth it to get a little (or more accurately, a lot) wet to see the views.

View of one of the flatirons while hiking in Chautauqua Park in Boulder, Colorado