And today, for the first time ever, I finally saw snow! Never before in my life have I seen snow. I live in Melbourne, Australia. It never really drops below maybe 6 decrees Celsius in winter (43 degrees Fahrenheit). We never, ever get snow. You have to drive a fair way out of Melbourne to find snow up in the mountains and since I’m not a fan of freezing cold weather, I just never made the effort.
But wait, what is that you say? Aren’t you traveling Europe in summer? Well, yes, but I am now in Switzerland, you see, and located in Switzerland is Jungfraujoch; the highest mountain peak in all of Europe with 100% guaranteed snow and ice all year round. Despite my unfavoritism towards cold weather, I have always wanted to frolic and play in the snow, just once to say I have, and what better place to experience it than Switzerland!?!
We boarded the cog railway train from where we were staying to get up to where we had to go. The train was old and slow and the journey up was long and cold; I think it may have taken us an hour and a half to make it up to Jungfrau. The scenery along the way up was simply stunning. Breathtaking views were observed in silence as many of us could simply not believe the beautiful scenery that was on the other side of the glass. Many a time I caught myself just sitting in my seat, glaring out the window and smiling happily to myself.
When we stepped foot off the train it was freezing. I had never experience negative temperatures in my life until now. I had to allow my body to get use to such temperatures and I also had to figure out a new breathing pattern. We were so high up that my normal pattern of breathing was causing me some discomfort. The air was thick and cold. I took bigger, deeper breaths till I adjusted to this new climate. We wondered around the building the train had dropped us off at, trying to find our way out. We were all very excited and keen to get outside and experience the snow. The Canadians that were with us thought it was rather hilarious that so many of us Aussie’s were thrilled to be experiencing something they have grown accustom to. There and then, we spotted an exit. Out we went, like a flock of caged birds finally being released into the wild. It was phenomenally stunning. The cliffs that were semi-covered in snow looked beautiful. The thick blanket of whiteness went on for miles and miles. I couldn’t believe it. After 22 years, I was finally stepping foot on snow!
I did everything you would expect a six year old to do when taken to the snow; I jumped in it; I threw myself into a heap of it; I made snow balls and threw them at my mates when they least expected it; I made a snow angel and got terribly soaked while in the process and last, but not least, I built a snowman. Yes, a snowman. Possibly the greatest snowman in the history of snowmen. In fact, our snowman was so cool, tourists were coming up to us and asking if they could have their photos taken with him; that is just how cool our snowman was. We named him Snowman, Mr. Snowman.
Despite the freezing conditions, we were so high up that the sun was blazing down on us so we were quick to get quite warm and had to strip some of our layers off. After playing for hours in the snow, Mel and I broke up from the rest of the group and went to check out the Ice Palace. Yes, there is a palace made entirely of ice. There were walls, rooms and ice-carved animals. It was pretty impressive stuff. We decided we better make out way back to the train station as we still had another one and a half hour train ride ahead of us to get back to our accommodation.
That night back at camp we sampled a local traditional dish. Do you, ummm, fondue? Fondue is a Swiss communal dish shared at the table in a pot over a small burner. The term is derived from the French verb fondre (to melt), in the past particulate fondu (melted). Diners use forks to dip bits of food (most often bread) into the warm semi-liquid sauce (commonly a cheese mix). I had never had fondue before and without trying to be funny, I was rather fond of it 😉 It tasted delicious!
We headed back to our rooms to get ready for tonight’s party. We were having an 80’s themed dress up party down at the bomb-shelter bar. We did not have warning or time to go out and buy props so we had to make do with the same stuff we had been carrying around in our suitcases for the past six weeks. Our group looked pretty dang funky. We started pre-drinking back at our rooms while getting ready so by the time we made our way over to the bomb-shelter, we were well and truly ready to party!
Switzerland is one of my most favorite countries so far.