Distinctive destinations

Page 13

Jungfraujoch station at 3571mtrs, or as I know it 11,782ft, above sea level, is above the North Face of the Eiger.

Jean & John Page

Together with my wife Jean and friends, Valerie and Gordon, we have completed eight trips with Great Rail Journeys. The first was in 2006 when bookings had to be direct with the Company and now with the help of Travel Stop we have places reserved for June on a river boat cruising the Danube.

Next to the hotel is a church containing memorabilia of Sherlock Holmes.

Getting to the top and back involves no less than eight separate trains with the final change to “rack and pinion” to cope with the 25% steep gradient.

The highlight of this tour has to be the train journey up the Jungfrau to the highest station in Europe known as Jungfraujoch.

The sights from the top of Jungfrau are stunning.

Travel is by Eurostar to Brussels, overnight in Cologne and then on by ICE train to Passau on the borders of Germany and Austria. During the journey we pass some breathtaking scenery.

Of all the train journeys we have completed, the Great Rail tour to the “Top of Europe” stands out as my favourite. Centred on Meiringen in Switzerland and served by the narrow gauge railway from Interlaken, the town is noted for its connection with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He spent much of his time their and went as far in his writings to allow his famous detective Sherlock Holmes to fall to his death in company with his arch-enemy Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls close to Meiringen.

Incidentally, in German, Jungfrau stands for maiden/virgin and is one of the main summits in the Bernese Alps. Sturdy shoes and warm clothing are a must as snow will be present and warnings are given to delay alighting from the train to acclimatise to the altitude conditions. In our case the problem soon disappeared. The 1000mm track was completed between 1896 and 1898 but the station was not opened until 1912 and is in fact built inside the mountain. Hard to believe that the summit now includes a small hotel, restaurant, observatory, research station and “Ice Palace” incorporating ice sculptures. This was the middle section of a very memorable 10 night trip that Travel Stop and Great Rail Journeys organised. We love the relaxed atmosphere on the train where everyone has a good view and can enjoy the surrounding countryside.