Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Top of Europe: Jungfraujoch, Switzerland



The "Top of Europe" is at 11,332 feet above sea level and is a high-altitude building and overlooks the eternal snows of the Aletsch Glacier. It is connected to the underground Jungfraujoch railway station by a tunnel, and to the Sphinx Observatory by an elevator. It is the highest point in Europe that can be reached without hiking. You get there by the highest train station in Europe. On a clear day, you can see all the way to The Vosges, a mountain range in France. 

You have to stand upon it to get an idea of how huge the ice mass is. It's not for nothing that this icy wonder is the heart of the Jungfrau-Aletsch protected area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are almost 14 miles of ice and it is almost 3000 feet thick at its lowest point. In total, there are around twelve billion tons of ice here!
The Sphinx Observatory is an astronomical observatory located above the Jungfraujoch in Switzerland.

The Top of Europe includes several restaurants and a permanent exhibition about the Jungfrau Railway and the Alps. It also includes Europe's highest-altitude post office and a research station.

Looking out over The Aletsch Glacier 
Icy air streams across your face, snow crunches under your feet, and the view nearly takes your breath away: on one side the view of the Mittelland up to the Vosges, on the other the Aletsch glacier-the largest alpine glacier in the world and is a Unesco World Heritage Site, bordered by 13,000-foot peaks. Standing on the Jungfraujoch 11,332 ft above sea level, you can feel it with your first step: this is a different world. It's one you have to experience. All four of us were impressed in the Ice Palace, even at 26 degrees (F.) We also found a Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven, the highest chocolate shop in Europe. We found the Snow Park Fun and we thought about going tubing but decided we were not dressed appropriately. The activities were Snow tubing, sledging with the Balancer, Flying Fox rope slide or ski, and snowboarding.

On top of a huge rock formation on the Jungfraujoch is the Sphinx Observation Deck.  There is an ultrafast elevator that takes you to the observatory and an international research station. It climbs 354 feet in 25 seconds. We experienced a once-in-a-lifetime experience on the largest glacier in the Alps, the Great Aletsch Glacier. With a length of around 13 miles, it is the heart of the Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is cold and windy out here. The highest winds recorded here are 165 miles an hour! The average temperature is 19 degrees Fahrenheit. I went live on Youtube while here. 

 The Sphinx Observatory is an astronomical observatory located above the Jungfraujoch in Switzerland. It offers views of the Jungfrau, Mönch, and Eiger peaks, all within a few kilometers. The scientific part of the Sphinx observatory includes two large laboratories, a weather observation station, a workshop, two terraces for scientific experiments, and an astronomical as well as a meteorological cupola. The astronomical cupola is equipped with a 76cm telescope with Cassegrain and Coudé focus.  The observatory plays an important role in a range of long-term experiments; it serves as a solar spectrometer for the Institute of Astrophysics and Geophysics at the University of Liège, Belgium, and plays a key role in a LIDAR experiment conducted by the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. The observatory can be seen in the movies The Grand Budapest Hotel and Krrish 3. It was visited by Season 22 of the reality competition series The Amazing Race on their visit to Switzerland in Leg 8. It also appears in the 2016 videogame Steep.

The Sphinx Observatory

This amazing experience is on "The Top of Europe!"
Rodolphe Lindt could have torn his hair out. The Lindt founder tried everything to make the chocolate taste even better. It was all in vain. Frustrated, he left his factory on a Friday evening – and forgot to turn off his self-made stirring machine. When he returned on Monday, he was flabbergasted. The crumbly cocoa-sugar mixture had become a delicately melting crème. Lindt tried it and it seemed like heaven. Visitors to the Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven experience this key moment. They turn Lindt's mixing machine, learn from a virtual Lindt Maître Chocolatier how a chocolate bar is made, and discover delicacies in the shop. Heavenly, indeed! 

The day we went to The Top of Europe was the day of the funeral of a dear friend of Brian's since he was 3 years old. Alexa passed away after a brave fight with cancer. We brought a pinwheel and a heart sparkler up to the "Top" with us to have a little memorial for her. We had the memorial as close to Heaven as possible in Europe. We found the perfect spot on the Glacier Plateau. It was a heartbreaking decision for Brian not to fly home for the funeral. 
Brian & the girls holding a pinwheel in honor of Alexa
It took a ton of effort to get this heart sparkler lit with the strong winds, but we got it lit and let it burn all the way out 

It was fun to explore the Ice Palace! There was a great photo opportunity around every corner. 
Ice Palace
A fun play on the movie Ice Age
We decided this must be the Grandpa from the story "Heidi"
Heidi and her goat

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