The hotel guest manager opens the door to my room at the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa in Interlaken, Switzerland and a blast of fresh, bright light hits me. Sun spills into the big windows hitting the white fluffy duvet and cloud-like pillows. How will I ever leave this room?
The floor to celing windows with mountain views, balcony, vaulted, beamed ceilings, huge bed, seating area, and large, white bathroom, are atonce peaceful and stunning. It is a great mix of traditional and modern clean lines. No blurred lines here in Switzerland.
This 5-star, historical gem is more than 145 years old and has evolved into one of Europe’s grandest hotels.
I’m spending three nights in Interlaken, which literally means between the lakes, which it is. It sits between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz and is mostly a base from which to explore the majestic mountains around it – mainly the Jungfrau, (13,642 ft), the Mönch (13,474 ft) and the Eiger (13,020 ft).
This town has long been a famous tourist destination and for good reason: impressive mountains, crystal-clear Alpine lakes, and so much to see and do, makes the Jungfrau Region one of Switzerland’s best areas to visit. In fact, I remember years ago my grandmother telling me how beautiful it was here when she visited “back in the day.” She was the reason I had heard of it and I have a feeling she also stayed at the Victoria-Jungfrau, but I will never know.
And coming up in January just up the mountain from Interlaken in the Alpine village of Mürren is the Inferno Ski Race, the largest amateur skiing race in the world.
The Jungfrau is the third highest peak in the Bernese Alps, but its massive sheer north face, makes it one of the most recognizable.
The Jungfraubahn Cogwheel train
The journey from Interlaken takes about 2 ½ hours by train with two train changes en route. The train ride is seriously spectacular and so scenic. You buy one ticket (as steep as the mountain — around $220 roundtrip) and that covers the three different trains up and down the mountain. You can also go in a circle and not return the same way you came.
Once difficult to access, the Jungfraubahn cog railway now goes to the Jungfrau railway station at 11,332 ft, the highest in Europe. The train here, runs all inside the mountain in tunnels, which took 16 years to build. The summit station was opened in 1912.
We arrive at the station around 11,ooo feet near the top of Jungfrau. The very top is 13,600 feet.
It is a gorgeous day…but totally snowing and socked in at the top. I can’t see a thing. Up here, besides the stunning views that I can’t speak about, there is a large complex of tunnels and buildings has been constructed at the Jungfraujoch, mostly into the south side of the Mönch. There is a hotel, two restaurants, an observatory, a research station, a small cinema, a ski school, and the “Ice Palace”, a collection of elaborate ice sculptures.
My tour guide, Erika, is a sprightly, cute lady probably around 70 years old who still hikes and bikes and leads tours every so often. I hope this is me at 70. And in the end, she invited me to stay with her some time (of course!…everyone does!).
During our descent we stop in the cute town of Gridelwald for a hot chocolate…naturally.
Erika says, “Do what you love…that’s the thing.” Wise words from a lady who knows what she’s talking about.
Disclosure: During my stay in Interlaken, I was a guest of Switzerland Tourism. As always, all writing and opinions are my own.