Saturday, February 21, 2009

Madly in love with THIS

I am obsessed with this bag.

From Minna Parikka's webshop, via Only Shallow, one of my favourite fashion blogs around. Minna Parikka is a fantastic Finnish designer, whose shoe designs are just as drool-able.

I love the scallop edges, the pink suede surrounding the underside of the bag and the fact that its large size looks like it could carry everything. When I saw this, I was on the verge of drooling, and ready to hit the check out button until I saw the price. Dang. My euphoria was short-lived.

Wondering when the Euro dollar will drop to USD levels. =(

Monday, February 9, 2009

Maiden Mountain, Pristine Snow

I had this recurring thought when I gazed at the majestic mountains -- the mountain peaks with their pristine snow caps remind me of gigantic, delectable ice cream. Yum....

Ms Rehau by the "balcony"

We were very, very fortunate that it was a fine weather that day and it wasn't too cold.

We took an elevator a few stories up and walked through a tunnel that leads to a flat, snow-covered area where we could step out into the snow and get up close to the peaks.

As mentioned in my previous post, this flat area is where we had fantastic, unobstructed view of the Konkordiaplatz, or Concordia, (which is a large flat area of snow and ice located at the south of Jungfrau). According to Wiki, its notable feature is that it is the junction of four different glaciers (glaciers are large, slow moving masses of ice) coming down from the Aletschfirn, the Jungfraufirn, and the Ewigschneefäld in the surrounding Swiss Alps. The Aletsch Glacier originates from Konkordiaplatz.

The view was, needless to say, stunning.

Ms Rehau and Mr Irish, with the Konkordiaplatz in the horizon

Not sure which of the 3 peaks is in the background

Clockwise from top left: My name in the snow; Swiss flag against a majestic peak as a backdrop; some bird of unknown origin; miniature snowmen we made

We spent the most time here, taking tons of pictures, and getting quite snow-blinded from gazing at all that whiteness so much.

We went on to the ice palace. The entire cavern was carved out of ice and there were some ice sculptures displayed. The floor was quite slippery and it was freezing (likely closer to zero degree Celsius). It reminds me of another ice palace I've been to, but for the life of me, I can't remember where. There's nothing particularly memorable here, but we've dutifully taken pictures nevertheless.

Travelling along this ice tunnel leads to the ice palace

Tourists have inserted various currencies beneath this ice layer

Mascot for the ice palace?

We're back to the tunnels, this time leading back the resting area, where coffee and Korean cup noodles were sold. Feeling quite famished, Ms Rehau and I got a cup each. They cost Sfr 7 per cup!!! But well worth the price when you're feeling hunger pangs on a snow mountain at close to zero degree Celsius.

Probably the most expensive cup noodles I've ever eaten.
But they were yummy, really!

While wolfing down our cup noodles, we noticed this little girl crawling on the carpeted floor. Isn't she cute?

When we realised that we missed exploring the higher levels of Jungfraujoch, the last train back to Grindelwald (which is the return train station from Jungfrau) was in half an hour. Unwilling to miss this opportunity, we rushed to the elevator that took us to the highest level, travelling several thousands metres up.

The view is as stunning as at the lower level.

A more elevated view of Konkordiaplatz.
I always seem to be able to take shots of birds flying across the valley - there must be lots of birds here.

Not sure which peak this is

We spied a helicopter afar

Close up of that helicopter. No prizes for guessing who took this picture.

A helicopter's view of where we are (from a poster)

We were reluctant to leave Jungfraujoch, but the last train beckons.

And this is the last of Jungfraujoch pictures

Ms Rehau's pretty shots of the countryside as our train chugs down from Jungfraujoch

We found ourselves at Grindelwald, a charming little town, with the most magnificent mountain scenery at its doorstep.

, a sleepy little town boasting world class scenery

Dinner was at a cozy little restaurant along the road. We were served by a kindly looking lady, whose service is superb. Seriously. When we asked about cheese fondue and were contemplating on ordering a set each, she told us to reconsider. She said that the cheese fondue could be quite cheesy and not too suitable for our palate, and suggested we order one to share. She also provided attentive service throughout, without being annoying. This is just another reason why I love Switzerland and its people.

Our thoroughly enjoyable and scrumptious dinner

Nightfall. We bade a reluctant farewell to Grindelwald

This has got to be my most picture intensive post ever!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Maiden Mountain Part I

I finally got round to continuing to blog about my Swiss adventures. Sorry it took some time and a few irrelevant posts in between. =)

Our 2nd day in Interlaken was thoroughly memorable because of the trip up the Swiss Alps. This is because it was the first time I saw and felt real snow (Not counting the man-made snow in Singapore's snow city nor pseudo snow a la foam party soap suds. I know, I am such a greenhorn) and the first time I was up in a mountain so high (at least 3,900m high).

As do most tourists, we took the most scenic route up the mountains - from Interlaken Ost via the pass between Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald Valley, where Kleine Scheidegg railway station lies. Kleine Scheidegg is also beneath the towering triple peaks Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. It is from Kleine Scheidegg that the Jungfrau Railway begins its incredibly picturesque journey to the Jungfraujoch -Top of Europe.

Getting to the top of Europe was only half the fun, and the fun begins the moment we step into the chugging train!

Taking the train up to Jungfrau

Glimpse of the mountains

The beckoning scenery

I spotted a waterfall!

I'm decked out in layers - tee, long sleeved top rolled up, jeans and I broke out my new checked fabric boots!

Excuse the poor lighting

Rest stop, Klein Scheidegg

The scenery was so post card perfect, you can imagine it was very difficult to choose from the hundreds of lovely snapshots taken between the 3 of us, to present here. Scenes after scenes of rolling greens, wispy clouds and majestic mountains -- I was beyond happy, I was swooning. And trying not to imagine myself as Heidi prancing about in the meadows.

A closer look at one of the fabulous peaks

The adventurers on their way to conquering the Alps
(Unfortunately, we haven't got that kind of stamina nor fitness to attempt this yet)

When the train entered the tunnel up in the peak

Mr Irish's dead beat

When we got off the train, we got to a large enclosed area with floor to ceiling glass windows overlooking the magnificent peaks. The Swiss must have been fantastic architects, to have built this viewing tower at such altitude! There were a couple of chairless table tops, where we settled our stuff there and had our lunch. We had the foresight to pack some bread, nutella spread and ham, knowing how incredibly expensive the stuff are here. I noticed that at one level above this viewing deck, there is an Indian restaurant (ironic that tourists prefer to have Indian food on a Swiss mountain peak?) and on the same level, there is a souvenir shop selling the usual post cards and knick-knacks. The great thing is, there is even a postal box here! So we took the liberty to purchase stamps and post cards and promptly sent them back home bearing the Swiss post mark.

As we were still not exposed to the outside elements while still in this enclosed area, we had no idea how cold it really is outside. I noticed there were doors leading to an outside balcony and decided to take the chance and step out. I was fully togged out in 4 layers - the long sleeve tee and tee shirt (in the photo earlier), a sweater and a cropped jacket, with a scarf I bought in Pisa wound round my neck. It was a little over the top actually, since it wasn't that unbearably cold (about 6-7 degrees). I've always been afraid of the cold, so it was an added precaution.

A nice gentleman offered to take his picture for me as I was alone at this time

I was fortunate to capture 2 birds flying across the ravine at this moment
I can't tell what birds they are though
. Falcons maybe?

Grasping real snow in my hand for the first time

According to Wiki, at the Jungfraujoch, the destination of the Jungfrau railway, there is a large complex of tunnels and buildings constructed, mostly into the south side of the Mönch peak. Incredibly, there is a hotel, two restaurants, an observatory, a research station, a small cinema, a ski school, and the "Ice Palace", a collection of elaborate ice sculptures. Another tunnel leads outside to a flat, snow-covered area, where one can walk around and look down to the Konkordiaplatz (large flat area of snow and ice lying just to the south of Jungfrau) and the Aletsch Glacier (largest glacier in the Alps) as well as the surrounding mountains.

There's so much to cover regarding Jungfrau, so I'd have to break this up to the next post. More breathtaking mountain views to follow, so keep a look out!

In case you were wondering....this post was so named because Jungfrau means Maiden/Virgin in German. It is also my maiden trip up a snow mountain.



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