8 July, Switzerland – ‘All Over The Place – Europe’
Our hotel here in the picturesque town of Interlaken is next to the most brightly coloured river I’ve ever seen – a beautiful rich blue/grey colour – which I guess comes from all the oxygen in the fresh mountain water. It was a bit hot in my hotel room last night, so I left my balcony door open and drifted off to sleep with the sound of the river in my ears. I proceeded to have a series of dreams in which I thought I’d wet the bed, so I probably won’t do that again in future. At 5am I awoke from my fitful sleep and got myself ready to head up Jungfraujoch mountain.
It boasts the highest train station in Europe. It took us 3 trains and a couple of hours to make our way up there, winding through breathtaking valleys on a scale that my British brain found hard to comprehend. As you approach the top of the mountain the train goes through a 7km tunnel carved into the rock. Why anyone thought it was a good idea to go to all that effort just so that people could have a look off the top of a mountain is beyond me, but it’s doing booming business now. Every 10 mins trains packed full of Chinese, Japanese and Indian tourists would pull into the substation, and it was a good job we got there early as within an hour of us arriving we were fighting our way through seas of people filling the numerous tunnels, cafes and viewing platforms.
I expect a lot of them must have been a bit disappointed, as the big draw of the place is that you can see 5 European countries from one spot. Not today. It had been raining all the way up and once we emerged from the tunnel it was to find that the top of the mountain was engulfed in a snow storm. Our filming on the viewing platform had to make a feature of the fact that we could only see about 10 metres in any direction.
Luckily the station also boasts an ice palace. Tunnels and caverns have been carved into the glacier that runs through the middle of the mountain, with ice sculptures of polar bears and penguins dotted around, as well as a large ice bar in which to host functions. The glacier is constantly moving and every year the tunnels have to be re-carved to stop them slipping away downhill. We shot our last piece out on the mountainside engulfed in snow and quickly nipped back in, only to be passed by a badly prepared tourist popping outside to have a look in his flip flops.
That evening I bullied everyone into going for a fondue and then they stayed in the restaurant to watch the Brazil v Germany semi-final while I went back to my hotel room to write my blog, with the telly on in the background. After the third goal I put my laptop to one side and by the fourth I was jumping up and down and screaming in shock, with muffled shouts coming from neighbouring rooms as their residents did the same. Realising I was witnessing history and wanting the share the moment I legged it down to the rest of the crew in the restaurant next door, only to miss the fifth goal on the way. We all sat stunned by the end of the game trying to work how much money someone could have won if they’d put £10 on the final score – Germany 7, Brazil 1. The Swiss sitting around us weren’t very impressed with it all though. In common with a lot of England fans, they don’t like seeing the Germans win things either.