Friday, February 24, 2012

View from the Top (Switzerland)

Today Thursday, Feburary 23, 2012, Page 12, Natas
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Source Website: http://www.todayonline.com/Travel/EDC120223-0000012/View-from-the-Top
By Wu Shangyuan, 04:46 AM Feb 23, 2012



PHOTO: The tall majestic cliffs and Staubbach Falls (on the right) greet tourists at the Lauterbrunnen Valley.
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Today Thursday, Feburary 23, 2012, Page 12, Natas


Leave the big tourist crowds behind, and map your own journey to Switzerland’s Interlaken region

It is not difficult to see why so many tourists flock to Interlaken yearly - it is home to some of the most spectacular landscapes Switzerland has to offer, and gives one the rare opportunity to come up close and personal with some of the most stunningly beautiful peaks in the Swiss Alps, from atop the Jungfraujoch mountain ridge.



PHOTO: The peak of Matterhorn, upclose and personal, from atop Jungfraujoch.
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For the more laidback tourist, this famous attraction makes for the perfect daytrip since it is accessible entirely by train - the journey ends at the highest railway station in Europe; this means that the only moment you need to walk anywhere is at the top. For more adventurous travellers however, I would certainly recommend hopping off the train at some of its most scenic points to do some quality exploring.



PHOTO: A view of the stunning Swiss Alps on the journey up to Jungfraujoch.
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The Land of 1,000 Waterfalls

To make our journey well worth it - the ticket up to Jungfraujoch from Interlaken West Station was a rather hefty 182 Swiss Francs (S$250) - my friend and I decided to make our first stop at Lauterbrunnen Valley, touted by locals and fellow travellers as the perfect place for cycling, hiking, or for the more adventurous, base-jumping.

Known as the Land of 1,000 Waterfalls, this valley was home to a whopping 72 waterfalls, each thundering down from the sheer cliff faces that bordered it. Here, we got off the train and with our travel guide in hand, began our hike to Staubbach Falls, the 300m tall waterfall that greeted travellers as they first entered the valley.


The tall majestic cliffs and Staubbach Falls (on the right) greet tourists at the Lauterbrunnen Valley.
PHOTO: The tall majestic cliffs and Staubbach Falls (on the right) greet tourists at the Lauterbrunnen Valley.
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Today Thursday, Feburary 23, 2012, Page 12, Natas

The main street leading up to the falls was a joy to walk through. Brown wooden buildings with sloping roofs and neat rows of windows, so characteristic of Swiss architecture, lined both sides of the street, with delightful souvenir stores and restaurants on the ground floor. Beyond these buildings loomed the cliffs, grey rock faces set against the blue and white of the sky, reminding us of just how close to nature we really were.

Staubbach Falls soon came into view, a stream of white plunging down a sheer cliff face. We took a path to a higher lookout point, only to realise that it led us straight to the back of the waterfall! Through a short tunnel cut out from rock, we stood peering behind the fall's curtain of water. Through it lay a view of the valley, a blur in the mist, as if it were a beautiful dreamscape.



PHOTO: The main street leading to Lauterbrunnen Valley, lined with traditional Swiss buildings.
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Top of Europe

Heading back onto the train, we left Lauterbrunnen Valley behind - I suggest sitting on the right side of the train to catch the most magnificent views of the valley as the train makes its climb up - and the next part of our journey presented a kaleidoscope of more breathtaking views as the train made its ascent. Peaks of snow streaked mountains, at parts obscured by cloud, stood majestic beyond the rolling hills of green.



PHOTO: The train station at Lauterbrunnen, the gateway to magnificent Lauterbrunnen Valley.
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At Kleine Scheidegg, we got off the train to catch the famous Jungfraubahn, the railway line that would bring us through two mountains Eiger and Monch, to the Top of Europe train station at a whopping 3,454m. The construction of the railway line, completed in 1912 after 16 years of cutting through rock and glacial ice, seemed a miracle in itself!



PHOTO: Eiger North Face and Kleine Scheidegg
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The final station at Jungfraujoch turned out to be a dream for travellers, with many options for exploration. We headed first to the Ice Palace, which featured a series of tunnels carved entirely out of ice, with immaculate ice sculptures sitting in enclaves around every corner. The best views of Jungfraujoch, however, were from the plateau and the Sphinx Terrace.



PHOTO: The spectacular landscape from the Jungfraujoch plateau.
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PHOTO: A view of the plateau and the stunning landscape that greets tourists at Jungfraujoch.
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PHOTO: Walking out onto the snowy plateau at Jungfraujoch.
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The plateau was not for the faint-hearted - we had to literally step out of the building onto a slippery snowy slope bounded by a rope for a railing - but boy, was the view worth it. On one side stood an expanse of snow and ice, a never-ending glacier resting between mountain peaks that extended far into the distance, and on the other, the looming peak of Matterhorn, its top laced with strips of cloud.



PHOTO: The highest lookout point you can go at Jungfraujoch - the Sphinx Terrace, at 3571 metres above sea level.
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For a view from even higher up, an elevator led up to the Sphinx Terrace, with its viewing deck perched precariously on a cliff 3,571m above sea level. It was easy to forget how high up this was though; like I told my friend, the key was to focus on the spectacular landscape.



PHOTO: Grindelwald
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To cap it all off, we made our last train stop on the way down at Grindelwald. This village, with its quaint (attractively unusual or old-fashioned) stores and cafes, rested right up against towering snow-capped cliffs, was certainly the best way to end our journey. So for the cost, I say: Step away from the option of going with a tour group, but craft your own adventure instead - sometimes, it is not just the top that matters but the journey you take to get there.
By Wu Shangyuan, 04:46 AM Feb 23, 2012



PHOTO: Cows in the Swiss Alps - Grindelwald
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PHOTO: The tall majestic cliffs and Staubbach Falls (on the right) greet tourists at the Lauterbrunnen Valley.
Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd
http://imcmsimages.mediacorp.sg/cmsfileserver/showimageCC.aspx?338&450&f=2165&img=2165_550812.jpg
http://www.todayonline.com/Travel/EDC120223-0000012/View-from-the-Top



PHOTO: Flag Over Swiss Alps
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PHOTO: Switzerland Countryside
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PHOTO: Zürich
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PHOTO: Autumn XL
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Gimmelwald, Switzerland: Best of the Alps

From: http://www.savetubevideo.com/?v=95ru9JguLrY&feature=related


Grindelwald
PHOTO: Grindelwald
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Reference