Julie and I took a little trip to Interlaken this past weekend. Interlaken is a beautiful little city. It sits in a mountain valley between two lakes. The primary industry in Interlaken is tourism. Apparently there are a lot of ski resorts in the area, but we didn’t head that way since Julie doesn’t really like to ski! We were a little worried about finding a place to stay. When Julie first started looking for hotels she was not finding anything cheaper than 400CHF per night. That is a little out of our price range! I would hate to see what the prices are like during the peaks of the travel seasons.
Interlaken is about a 2 hour train ride from Zürich. We woke up Saturday morning, and about 8:30 caught the train. We made it there with only one little panic. About 30 minutes out of Zürich the conductor started this really long announcement. After about a minute, I started to get a little worried. I thought the conductor was giving out conflicting information from our tickets. He then repeated the message, in English, and now Julie started to panic as well. Apparently, the train system was having problems, and we were now going to have to make three or four changes to get where we wanted to go. We were furiously looking up the routes and changes on our cell phones, when this really nice lady leans over, and says “Don’t worry about it. I think the conductor was reading the wrong message. What he says doesn’t make any sense, because the towns he says we are stopping are not even on this route!” However, for the next 30 minutes we were wondering if we were going to spend the day trying to figure out the train system, or if we were just going to head back home! When we pulled in Bern we knew we were OK, because that was what we we booked. The Conductor never did get on and change his message. I wonder how many other people on the train were as confused as we were?
So we make it to Interlaken and find our way to the hotel. Again, Google maps is a wonderful thing. You find yourself in a new town, and you can still get around very easily. Even when you don’t have a clue where you are going.
The hotel was different. It had a mid 70’s vibe to it, but when we got up to the room we were kind of shocked. It was actually a small suite, that had been updated very recently. Two big rooms, with a HUGE bathroom.
We had lunch at an Irish Bar we found a couple of blocks from the Hotel, and then just walked around the town. We are not good about making an itinerary when we go on these day trips; it is more about seeing a town and experiencing what the town has to offer. We came across an old Monastery, and up on the side of the hill you could see tracks and a tram going up the mountain. So we said “Why not?” We went over and bought a ticket. We soon found ourselves at Harder Kulm, Top of Interlaken.
The train going to the top is called a funicular train. Basically it is a cable car. The train works with two cars. One at the top and one at the bottom, the cars always counterbalance each other. This type of train is used when the tracks are really steep. The picture below was taken at the top of the mountain as we were beginning our descent. You get a pretty good idea of how steep the mountain is.
While at the top, we spent a couple of hours hiking and enjoying the gorgeous views of the city below. We also stopped for a bit at the restaurant and experienced Glühwein for the first time. Glühwein is a hot spiced wine. It was delicious! We found a couple of recipes and are going to try them out over the next three weeks, and then bring a little German/Switzerland home to Lawrence County for Christmas!
At the top of the mountain, I got a little lesson in how bad my German really is. I thought I had been picking it up a little. I am able to understand most of the announcements on the train, I am reading a little, I even talk very simply in restaurants and stores now. BUT while we were walking we came across a couple that wanted us to take their picture. I did, and we started talking. Here is where I came up against a brick wall. I could not understand one thing they were saying. They had to repeat themselves about 4 times, and sloooooooow waaaaaaay down. before I grasped the question. The funny thing is that it was one of the very first questions we learned in the German class. I knew that Switzerland speaks a different variation of German than Germany, and I knew that in Switzerland there are at least four local variations of Swiss German. I had no clue until last Saturday how much different those variations really are! In the US, the only comparison I can come up with was hearing someone from Boston talk for the first time. With my Southern Indiana language skills I had growing up, it was like they were speaking a different version of English. I did feel a little better later that night, though. Julie and I went to Mass at the Monastery, and I was able to understand about 10 percent of the homily. Which I guess in some ways is better than back in the US, where sometimes I would zone out and not catch any of the homily!
After Church we walked around town some more, and then went for dinner. Julie learned at dinner to never order a swiss style hamburger. She is not a fan of meat loaf, and basically that was their swiss style hamburger. It was a patty , but baked like a meat loaf.
So that was our day in Interlaken. This weekend we are heading to Stuttgart, Germany. They have, according to Julie, a FABULOUS Christmas market! Oh well, at least there will be Glühwein! Enjoy the pictures.