What’s a trip to Switzerland without a visit to the snowy Alps? That’s what we were told & it was hard deciding between Mount Jungfrau & Mount Titlis ―the 2 popular spots, given our short visit of 4 days. So we decided we’d do both..
While the former entailed a ride on the far-famed cogwheel train, the latter involved the cable car.
We set out for Mt. Titlis on the second day. Interlaken to Luzern by train; Luzern to Engelberg involved another train. From Engelberg, we took a bus to the cable-car station that transported us to the snow-topped Mt. Titlis.
Switzerland is no doubt Heaven on Earth, with its blooming dales being coveted greener pastures. However, it is at the top that we’d feel at Cloud 9, we were told. Yet, it was the incredible train journey that made us feel on Seventh Heaven!
Above-Brienz Station, famed for Lake Brienz ―one of the 2 lakes that flanks Interlaken
Interlaken, which means ‘between lakes’, is a town ensconced between Lake Brienz & Lake Thun.
As we changed transport & moved inchmeal from verdant pastures to our destination in the clouds, the scene remained the same at first. Emerald green meads punctuated by log huts and alpine blossoms, made way for turquoise blue ponds lorded over by blue mountains and silvery peaks peeking from the backdrops.
As my eyes roved along the winding paths that led to hamlets and homes, I wondered what secrets those domiciles held, what it was to live in those homes..
To be living & breathing pure salubrious mountain air, to be having one’s abode amid sylvan surroundings, to be staring into the wide blue yonder, without having to beat the exasperating traffic or run into obnoxious people, is undoubtedly to be leading a cushy life!😊
The hills held in their warm embrace the vales below & the dwellings of humans that nestled amid blooming alpine blossoms. Each seemed to be made for the other & yet, each seemed detached; each element seemed to live & let the other live!
Barn animals were having a field day! Dotting this sylvan landscape were snow-white ducks, perhaps calling out to their brood.
Grazing leisurely & quaffing from flowing streams were pied cows ―without a care in the world, for their job was to feast on fresh fodder & feed the folks in return.
Cherry trees added to the allure. While a few flowers held onto the boughs, festooning them with their rosiness, a few fell over the carpet of green, thereby inducing a blush!
The silent valley seemed still & yet held inexplicable mysteries, enticing humans to delve & explore. Still, there was no hurry, no race & hence no compelling need to explore.
I allowed myself to be enticed, for I was truly smitten. Do I even need to tell you that? So, I shelved wool-gathering for another day, when I’d unfurl the scenes, reminisce about the experience & relish every bygone scene ―quietly, all by myself so that I could reveal those to you..
Soon, the blue mountain ranges were superseded by pallid peaks, which turned to sparkling silver.
A view from the top―Mt.Titlis
The Rotair ―World’s First Cable Car is easily a crowd-puller, drawing hordes to Mt.Titlis. Revolving 360°, the Rotair offers sweeping views of this snowscape.
The journey to the top took just 5 minutes! Yet, those were perhaps the most thrilling 5 minutes, with each passing scene wowing us!
This uphill journey proved to be a cakewalk as we sheared through a bosket of pines & firs to finally loom over towering trees & hills. Yet the pinnacle continued to dwarf us!
As we ascended from grassy meads to snowy slopes, the din at the base gave way to ecstatic gasps till finally all sounds were stilled. We watched at passing cars ―some were descending & some ascending to reach us.
With time, the mist merged with the snow & obscured our vision.
After what felt like eternity, we reached the top! We were on Cloud 9! The niggling trepidation gave way to pure rapture as we saw a sea of people swarming this snowy summit.
Hedging the snow-white meadow was the titanic Titlis range. Like whipped up cream, the hills stood baring faint tints of grey and white, and spiking them were scores of pines ―wreathed in rime.
This jaw-dropping spectacle attracted scores of wide-eyed spectators. Soon, snowballs found their desired mark & were followed by rapturous glee. The whole atmosphere was charged!
As the wind blustered, we rushed indoors. Only the intrepid could weather the storm.
Indians looking for Indian food needn’t be disappointed, for there are a few in Mt. Titlis. We rushed to Spice Bistro, whose friendly staff gave us a ‘knowing look’.. We partook of a hearty Indian meal & made time for some small talk with the staff.
Bollywood zealots, who grew up watching DDLJ & memorizing its every line would never forgive us for not posing with the cutout of King Khan & Kajol. But the algid weather & the antsy crowds deterred us from scouting for the cutout. This is another crowd-puller at Titlis.
The famed Cliff Walk was off limits, thanks to the gusty weather.
The Glacier Cave is unmissable & of course, we walked through this. This 150 m long walkway through an ice cave, whose sleet is more than 5,000 years old, had us clutching every pillar, post or railing & hence there was no way we could risk holding a camera for a shot.
The following day took us to the Top of Europe ―to the renowned Mount Jungfrau.
Interlaken to Grindelwald by train & Grindelwald to Jungfraujoch in the cogwheel, got us to the Top of Europe.
For a few miles, the railway ran alongside the meandering roads, which in turn embraced the placid lake.
The misty hills lay cloaked in an air of mystery. Dark clouds looming overhead, began to release their payload, thereby silhouetting Spruces & Firs that had gathered around the lake.
However, in no time the erumpent Sun triumphed over the clouds, shedding light & bringing forth a glorious diorama.
Once again, we began to see the world in a new light..
And as the train chugged its way through this lush landscape, I wished we’d never reach the top! Snow is commonplace but the bucolic scenery was hard to come by, at least for us.
A few homesteads in brown, lay scattered ―their brownness dotting the lushness & breaking the reverie of a mesmerized onlooker. The hamlets looked close-knit & yet blithe & unperturbed. What did they have to joust for?
Where there was no company, a solitary hut stood embosomed amid the verdurous backdrop. Sequestered it appeared, but it had the whole sward at its feet & perhaps some dryads & nymphs for company too.
A garden in the backyard, completed the picture of this picturesque panorama.
Nature’s largesse appeared a tad skewed! She had chosen the finest of her bounties & painted an impeccable ‘picture-perfect’ portrait on this canvas, choosing every brilliant color from her glorious palette.
Cleaving its way through this greensward, bolted a babbling brook. The passing zephyr was sending shivers down the stream & the silver ripples surged ahead, nonchalantly. On its banks lay a zillion yellow blossoms ―merry & mirthful.
Spring was in the air. Every windowsill looked comely & welcoming with cheery nosegays planted by tender hopeful souls, who I’m sure are a contented lot.
Soon, the emerald turf was giving way to blotches of snow. A floating fog veiled the atmosphere & all of a sudden, the blue hills wore a fluffy blanket of white.
We alighted at Grindelwald & took a cogwheel train. Save for a couple of bright red locomotives that trailed through, there was no way we could tell where the horizon was; where the hills lay & where the skies took over!
In sometime, there arrived this shining red & yellow train that took us to the Top of Europe. The rest of the journey to the top was the same with the snowy spread swathing the landscape.
Upon landing, we passed through a maze. Snaking our way through the Ice Palace was indeed a unique experience. We were literally treading on ‘thick’ ice. We had railings to hold onto but the walls on the sides held interesting artefacts like penguins, birds & beasts made of ice. A slight carelessness on our part could have got us skidding down the chamber!
If we made it to the Top of Europe, then it was only due to one man’s efforts & vision ―Adolf Guyer-Zeller, whose brainchild is the Jungfraujoch Railway. And inside was his bust duly emplaced.
The Jungfraujoch Railway Station is the highest in all of Europe, located at an elevation of 11,332 ft. Isn’t that a remarkable feat? It was entirely one man’s vision & certainly Adolf had walked his talk!
The above plaque is a reminder of the Twinning of the 2 UNESCO sites ― The Jungfrau-Aletsch with the Hunagshan of China, to promote the best of both worlds in both worlds.
The Sphinx Observatory is a landmark that offers a sweeping view of the summit. It was a sunny day but the freezing temperatures made us retreat indoors, minutes after we took a peek.
We did not cover the Cliff Walk either, as it was getting too cold for comfort.
The morning after, we left Switzerland for UK.
It was indeed saddening but as the train pulled away from Interlaken towards Zurich, we experienced another visual treat, this time at dawn.
‘Heavenly’, is an understatement!
A glint of gold spreading its halo, shone upon the mighty hills & the lucent lake. Sadly, we could only catch a glimpse of this dewy dawn.
And as the lambent light illumined the horizon, the silvery summits blushed with a crimson glow. And the limpid lake held a mirror to all elements of Nature, perhaps hinting at the need to delve within, to reflect & retrospect. Is there a lesson for man?
Very soon, this paradaisical glory seemed like a surreal blib that passed by like a slideshow only to be replaced by the insipid & mundane. Buildings & busy streets replaced hills & lakes. Massive manmade structures replaced the woods. Yes, the Swiss urbanscape also looks swell, but pales in comparison with Interlaken & the hinterlands.
We disembarked at Zurich for an onward flight to London.
Switzerland ―the most ‘sought after’, enviable El Dorado had held us in its thrall. Our 4-day sojourn in this enchanting dreamland was akin to tasting a smidgen of the entire cake 🥰. We regretted not having extended our stay. If you wish to experience Switzerland to the fullest, here’s what you must do.
Try travelling in June/July, as spring is at its summer then. Our visit in May was indeed timely but we missed the Arnica & Edelweiss that bloom only midsummer. We could avoid the crowds though, because in May, the season just begins.
For God’s sake, do reserve at least a fortnight if not a month. In fact, a month is still less. That way, you can cover Austria also. A short vacation should mean a fortnight. If you’re pressed for time, your stay should last at least a week. Anything less than that is a sin!😯
Swiss Pass entails either 3, 4, 8 or 15 day visit but there are many kinds of Swiss Passes available. Do your homework well.
If you can, try driving. That way, you can halt & click to your heart’s content.
While Swiss Alps are the drawcards, the alpine villages with their lush pastures that spring alive with the tinkling of cowbells & multi-colored flowerbeds are equally spellbinding. Strolling around villages like Murren & the like, will without doubt make you fall in love with life again!
Switzerland to me, is like a classy woman, who’s pricey too ―the belle of the ball, with the oomph to boot! She’d awe you but she’d haunt your dreams too! She’s that chimeric dream to which you’d want to return when you have the privilege to dream, to fantasize..🤗
PS: My special thanks to Mollyson Holidays Pvt. Ltd. Kalyan, Mumbai. No, we did not travel with them but their valuable tips & insights helped us plan better.
Do click on http://www.tra-verse.com/a-slice-of-heaven-%e2%80%95interlaken-switzerland/ for my previous post on Interlaken.