Just Passing Through: Jungfrau Region, Switzerland

This is my second set in my series of "Just Passing Through." My first set from Utah is here. This is a project to help me record the places I go. The places that totally stun me into non-words. The places that are much too big for me to fathom or photograph, but I figure I'll try anyways.  The places that exist and thrive completely without my being there. The places that make me feel small.

It took Ian and I a while to figure out where we wanted to go. We knew that he would be in Paris so I would join him for a bit of that. I demanded that we go to London for a weekend because I love it so much. But we had a return ticket from Paris to LAX scheduled for August 18th and no real idea of where to go after August 6th when Ian's program was over. We had to decide on a path. I had decided pretty early on that I wanted to go Spain, almost purely to see my favorite painting in Madrid. For a while we scrapped that and thought maybe Italy. Eventually it was decided that yes Spain would be happening, and perhaps Switzerland would too.  

The cutest (or lamest) part about this decision was that it was made basically because of Rick Steves. He did a segment on the Jungfrau Region of Switzerland and we got way too excited about it. Mostly the cows. I was worried for a while that there wouldn't be enough cows to live up to my expectations but wowee there were. Rick Steves did the rich-white-dude-who-wanders-Europe thing and stayed in all the cute B&B's and took the funiculars and gondolas up the mountains. We did the poor student thing and used our legs to get up the mountain (that's not to say I didn't do a lot of complaining about hiking. Also it was surprisingly hot in Switzerland and I get mad in the heat. But I think complaining is part of the experience, right??) Rick Steves did, however, have some great recommendations of where to go. 

We stayed at a tent village hostel in Interlaken. Interlaken is located between two lakes, Thun and Brienz. The town was much bigger than we thought and actually made for some very nice walks to and from the train station. I also had the best Thai food of my life there. From Interlaken we took the train up to Lauterbrunnen. Lauterbrunnen is where you can catch a gondola straight up the mountain, which connects you to a train that takes you to Mürren. But no, we walked up that mountain. It took about 3 hours. At this point we were just amazed at the places people lived in these mountains. There are entire villages on cliffs looking up to the gorgeous snowy peaks. We kept snapping pictures, only to find that we hadn't seen nothin yet.

From Mürren we walked down to Gimmelwald. Gimmelwald was exactly what I dreamed it would be. The small village is situated on a cliff overlooking a beautiful river. Across the gorge is the unreal mountain of Jungfrau, whose snowmelt made for the most gorgeous white lines along the rock face. If you stared long enough you could also see the little waterfalls feeding into the river a thousand feet below. The houses in Gimmelwald have the most perfect flowers and Swiss flags hung everywhere as well as cowbells much bigger than the ones that the very musical cows wear. 

From Gimmelwald we finally took a gondola down. We would have hiked it but we were running out of daylight, so onto the most terrifying ride we went. It was quite a shock to suddenly descend 100 feet into the valley below within like 3 minutes. Once on the valley floor, we had a 3 mile walk back to the train station in Lauterbrunnen. This walk followed a river full of all the snowmelt we had just seen. The views from the ground were almost as amazing as up high. You realize how huge the mountain range is when looking up at them. In Lauterbrunnen we came across a campground. They had a few restaurants and seemed to be putting on some performances. We decided to eat dinner there and it ended up being the perfect finish to an awesome day. We saw some ceremonial cowbell ringing as well as some awesome singing and dancing. It was quite a time.

So overall, one of the most magical days of my life. I will never forget the way all the cows sounds together, eating and making music.

You can see my whole series here.

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