Ever since my first visit to the Jungfrau region back in 1988, the area has always been a special one for me so I was very happy to be returning on this trip.
We travelled from Zurich to Interlaken (via Bern) by train, a journey time of around two hours. The trip was especially scenic after we left Bern and travelled alongside Lake Thun. On arrival into Interlaken it was only a short walk from the station to our hotel, and after checking in, we headed back to the station and off on our first mountain adventure.
A guide from Jungfrau Railways escorted us to the village of Grindelwald and from there we took a cable car ride (as a non-cable car fan, I had to 'suck it up' and get on with it!) to the mountain of First. The views from the top were spectacular - we were looking right at the north face of the Eiger - and Grindlewald, far below, was just a little speck in the distance.
A few brave members of our group enjoyed the 'First Flyer', a flying fox ride, and had we had more time, there is also the opportunity to enjoy a descent down the mountain on Trotti bikes (like scooters).
We then returned to Interlaken where we were treated to a traditional Swiss Fondue dinner. It was delicious - but not much good for the arteries! Lots and lots of melted cheese is the main focus of the meal, which is traditionally eaten in winter.
The next day we awoke to overcast skies and drizzle, and as we were heading to the Jungfraujoch (Europe's highest railway station at 3454 metres), we were worried that the conditions weren't the best. However, after the two hour train trip to reach the Jungfraujoch, we were greeted with perfectly blue skies and warm sunshine.
2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Jungfrau railway and a number of activities (including an Imax-style theatre) have been added to entertain visitors. These would be particularly useful on days when visibility from the top is poor, but we were very lucky and spent much of the time enjoying the stunning 360 degree views. After a few hours on the 'Top of Europe', and a delicious lunch, we headed back to Interlaken by train. (The Jungfrau train departs from Lauterbrunnen and travels via Wengen and Kleine Scheidegg (where you change trains). As happens everywhere in Switzerland, the connections between Lauterbrunnen and Interlaken are perfectly timed.
With only one day left in this beautiful region, I decided to return to Lauterbrunnen, which is probably my favourite place in Europe. The weather wasn't so kind today with light rain and grey skies, but it was great to wander through the village and see what changes had taken place since I last visited. It didn't disappoint - I always feel a special connection here - and it made me more determined to return for a longer visit in the not too distant future. I then took the cable car (yes, another one!) and train up to the car-free village of Murren for a look around.
My brief visit to the Jungfrau region was coming to an end and once again I was reminded that this area has so much to offer. You could easily spend a whole week here (and I have in the past) and still not see everything. As well as the Jungfraujoch and First, which I visited on this trip, there is also a cable car ride to the Schilthorn (from Murren), the alpine garden of Schynige Platte, visits to the Trummelbach Falls, cruises on Lake Brienz and Thun, an open-air musuem of Swiss traditions at Ballenberg and much, much more to fill your days. The thing that makes the region so special for me, though, is the stunning scenery - I could look at the views all day every day and never tire of them.
So, with this brief mountain interlude over, it was time to head back to Zurich. I decided to travel via Luzern on the Golden Pass train and was extremely thankful that I did. The journey took an hour longer (two hours from Interlaken to Luzern and then an hour onto Zurich), but the scenery we passed was simply stunning, and with panorama windows in the train, I had the best views possible.
Disclosure: A big thank you to Switzerland Tourism (Australia) for inviting me to be part of their 2012 Asia Pacific Workshop and post-convention trip. The trip has once again re-inforced why I love Switzerland so much!