Jungfrau: Top of Europe

DSC_6513Today was quite the adventure, filled with diversity beyond belief. We woke up to a very German breakfast: an assortment of meats and cheeses. Naturally, I went for the least threatening yogurt. We decided to take the train in downtown Wilderswil to wherever it may lead, which was apparently the top of the mountains. We took 3 separate train connections to get to “Jungfrau: The Top of Europe”… as you can see they’ve really capitalized on their cog railways to the point that their slogan hangs around like a head cold that won’t go away.

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The trains reminded me of the T in Boston: electrically charged, but with the added bonus of gears that cranked the trains up the mountain. The views were spectacular: on one side, we could see green rolling hills, complete with wooden homes and waterfalls. On the other side, we scrambled to take photos of the snow-capped mountain that awaited our arrival. The scenes were picturesque, and the other families on the train must have thought so too, because we all seemed to be rushing to take the same photos: imitating the actions of those who seemed to catch on to a new angle first.

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Our arrival at Jungfrau was a tedious one. They stopped the train every so often to acclimate us to the new altitudes, but all I felt as the train made its steady climb was oxygen deprived, and subsequently, sleepy. When we got off the train at the top, the view was spectacular. But our journey inside the mountain only began there. We walked through extensive tunnels and caverns to new viewpoints, and to get outside onto the mountain. I, in my boat shoes, sweatshirt, and baseball cap, clearly came unprepared in comparison to the hikers who wore their wool. I only braved the freezing temperatures for a minute before I went back inside.

We then travelled back through the tunnels, and the nausea began to sink in. The altitudes made us light-headed, and the tunnel system was so still, it made our heartbeats feel boisterous. I couldn’t walk a straight line, and I felt completely DSC_6521 DSC_6520out of control of my body and mind, which had turned not only against me, but each other. Regardless, we had to press on for the one thing we had journeyed to see: The Ice Palace (Eispalast.) Inside the mountain, ice tunnels had been carved and preserved, which then led to an ice museum of intricate ice sculptures and doorways. It was unreal, and frigid. My claustrophobia only got worse, and as soon as we had seen all there was to see, we exited and set off to find Rachel, who had given up fairly quickly on the ice escapade.

With the claustrophobia and nausea only getting worse, we all set off down the mountain via railway, clamoring for space between the other tourists. It seemed our plans were just in the nick of time, as it started to rain. We hiked up the small village of Wilderswil, and relaxed in our (still quaint) hotel.

Later, we set our sights on the town of Interlaken (pronounced Interlocken), and ate at an Italian restaurant that came highly recommended, mainly because it was in close proximity to the Diskothek. The food was delicious, and as usual, took hours to enjoy. We then made our way to the Disko, which interestingly enough, must be Swiss for “divey bar.” The room was dark, and the walls and ceiling were plastered with years upon years of memorabilia. This includes, but is not limited to: bras, sunglasses, drumsticks, and neon signs. The Disko also doubled as a tattoo parlor. I’d say the only real pluses to a place such as this was the great rock n’ roll music (all classic American hits), and the bartender. He drew a couple of German lines from me, but it was hard for me to say anything more than my name and where I was traveling from, because he just before had remarked how he hates speaking German. Greeeatttt.

When we’d had enough, we gracefully made our exit, disappointed that a Disko wasn’t really a disco. We split our return journey home between a train and Taxi, and the evening came to a close.

***

I want to take a moment to share something deeply personal for a moment. On the day of my high school graduation, I cried to my boyfriend for hours about feeling like one of the “unimportant” people in the world. I had watched my classmates grow, and I felt like we had naturally divided ourselves into those who are “important” and going places, and those who are merely pawns, here to build up the self-esteem of those who are important. I had chased my dreams for all of high school: made great friends, travelled the world, and established myself in several leadership positions. But where did that leave me, and what did I have to show for it? I felt one chapter of my life closing, and I didn’t see the potential for a new one to be written. Retrospectively, this was a very VERY childish attitude to have. But in that moment on my couch, it felt very real. I’m not afraid of too much, but I was petrified of my amazing journey coming to an altogether halt. Something occurred to me tonight though as I wrote this post:

My experiences thus far have made me happy; I have pushed myself to know more about myself, harder than I know anyone around me to have pushed themselves. I have sought answers to unanswerable questions, and tried unceasingly to quench my thirst. I have travelled to run away, travelled to find myself, yet have found the most satisfying feelings in sitting perfectly still. I have actively made a difference in my own life, but also those around me. More importantly, I have allowed others to make differences in my life. I never stopped loving, or hoping for the best out of people or situations. I think that’s pretty rare. So, I am important. I’m important to some: my community, my family, my friends. But I’m also important to myself. I matter, and I make a difference. I don’t intend to stop traveling, writing or searching for answers. I couldn’t satiate those hungers if I tried. But my worth, validity, and “important-ness” are reflected in my actions. And I reap the benefits of that through my unmeasurable happiness. A fact I have to write down in order to remind myself!

Thank you always for listening to my rants of epic proportions! 😉

Guten Nacht!

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