After breakfast this morning, we were off up the Jungfrau Mountain in the Swiss Alps. We walked about 15 minutes into a small town which we didn't even realise existed, just above the campground. We thought we were just in the middle of nowhere. It was still very warm this morning but I had all my gears in a bag to take up - jacket, scarf, gloves and hat - because it was too hot to wear them at the bottom. Because I had all of this with me, I was really hoping that it was cold up the mountain - except for the fact that my feet would freeze in the shoes I was wearing.
The trains are cog trains, and run up the mountain on chains as opposed to running on normal tracks. We were sitting on an angle the whole way up the mountain rather than the normal flat tracks. We had a couple of scenic viewing stops on the way up, but eventually we got to the top. We had a wander around the shop and then we caught a lift up to the 'Spynx', which is the highest lookout point that we could go to. It was a building with a large metal deck around the edge which you could walk right around to get a good view and take pictures. I had my jacket and all my layers on by then, and I felt good while everyone else was reasonably cold. However, the weather was still beautiful. It was sunny and there was no wind. It was funny because while we were up there, Brendon text me and said Palmy is having lows of -1, and I was at the highest point in Europe and it was still almost 6 degrees. We were up round about as high as what I skydived at, which was crazy to realise. We actually found it was cooler when we were down in the tunnels rather than out in the snow.
There were some underground displays which we had a look at, as well as an igloo type ice room with lots of ice sculptures, including the squirrel from Ice Age frozen in a block of ice. We went out to the snow a couple of times, but my feet were frozen. It was only when snow went into the shoes though, as soon as we got out of the snow, they warmed up again. We didn't go tubing or anything, so after this we went back in and had some lunch. Food was very expensive up the mountain, but as it usually is. Things in general are a bit more expensive in Switzerland, but I haven't found it too bad.
After lunch, we caught the 2pm train home. We all caught the train up together as a tour group, but once we got there we split off and were able to just catch the train back down as we pleased. It was another 2 hour train ride back down with a change in the middle, and I slept most of the way. By the time we got back, we didn't have time to do the waterfall trip, but we did go and have some chocolate fondue at the restaurant on the way back to the campsite, another Bucket List thing I wanted to try. There was a man working there who sounded very Australian, and I asked him where he was from. He said Aussie, but he had been living in Switzerland for 37 years. I was amazed how strong his accent still was.
We got back to the camp at 5pm and dinner was at 6. After dinner, we went over to the shop to buy some snacks and spend our last few Swiss Francs because we won't be able to use them again once we leave Switzerland. I still have a 20 Franc note, but at least I can get that changed. I just needed to use the coins. The most different thing about Swiss money is that they have a 5 Franc coin (as in $5), which is huge, instead of a note, and they have a 1/2 Franc coin instead of 50 cents. It's hard trying to estimate how much money you'll need somewhere, especially when it is only for 2 days, like in Switzerland. I'm so glad they made the Euro, imagine the money issues if every country had a different currency and you were only in each one for a couple of days. We also went and bought some internet just to get rid of our coins, because the internet here was super expensive and we weren't going to bother.
We wandered back to our room after this and went and had showers, etc but it was still only about 9pm, and then everyone seemed to migrate to our room. Each room has a large window which leads out to a deck, so people had easy access to each other's rooms. Plus no one wants to drink here because they think it's too expensive. So everyone came and hung out in our room for a while and we eventually headed to bed at about 11:30pm. I've got a mouthful of ulcers at the moment, I'm not sure why, but they hurt, so I really wanted to get some salt to rinse my mouth with but by then it was too late. Hopefully I'll be able to do it in the morning.
Tomorrow we're off to Germany again - St Goar in the Rhine Valley. We're only here for one night, but we're staying in a hotel which is brand new to Contiki. So at this stage we have no idea what it will be like - it could be a good or a bad thing.