22 May 2006

Top of Europe!!

We took a long slow train from a town near Interlaken to the top of the Jungfrau mountain at 11,330 feet at the observation building...2.5 hours up and 2.5 hours down! It is such a huge climb and the train makes cuts and turns all the way. It was an amazing ride through little picturesque villages and numerous ski areas and resorts with waterfalls and bucolic scenery. Everyone who needs to go up must ride the train. The train was built in the early 1900s by an avid climber who had great vision. There is an ice palace that was carved into the glacier in the 1930s and is still there. The floors and walls were solid ice. Jazzy put on a wonderful skating exhibition for all of the tourists there. We were on the longest glacier in the Alps and this was the highest railway station in Europe. Fortunately, the ride and the ice palace were so interesting because we could see nothing at the top due to a complete white out! It was snowing big huge snowflakes. It was fun to play on the deck...Jazzy loved snuffing in the snow! It gave me the heebeegeebee knees when I looked up at the side of the mountains, but it was cool! If it had not been snowing, we could have hiked out to an Auberge 45 minutes across the glacier. Also in good weather, there are sled dogs and skiing. We passed a group of truly the most die-hard skiers going out on the glacier to ski. Phew!

Aside from the interesting side effects on our bodies from being at such unpressurized heights, it was really fascinating. We even got a little science lesson from some tourists sitting next to us at lunch who were from North Carolina (Susie and Aaron...no slam on you guys!) ...did you know that the air pressure is the same inside a building at that height as outside? Amazing scientific facts you can learn from eavesdropping. The gentleman spent much time enlightening his wife regarding her loudly, heavily accented and undocumented beliefs that the air must be pressurized inside so they would all feel better soon if they sat for long enough. Suffice it to say that the two other English speaking families...as with us...spoke very little and very quietly for the remainder of our lunch. It was good for an embarrassed laugh later. The poor lady must have mistaken the cafeteria for a airplane's galley.

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