As with all our time in Switzerland we got to Interlaken by train. We just showed up at the train station on the main street in Zermatt, bought our tickets and jumped on the train. It was a beautiful train ride through the alps to downtown Interlaken. There are 2 train stations in Interlaken and we got off at the wrong one lol. They are both close and we just grabbed a taxi to our hotel. Interlaken is beautiful. It is sandwiched between two gorgeous lakes, Lake Brienz and Lake Thun has the Aare River full of steel grey water running through it. It is the perfect place to jump into other parts of the alps and explore the surrounding areas and small towns that dot the Alps. You can also do a lot of sky diving and paragliding there. We had a blast in Interlaken, we explored, we hied, we ate delicious food and just took it all in. There are a lot of tourists from all over the world in Interlaken and it was cool to be surrounded by so many different cultures that we do not experience in the United States. We spent more time in Interlaken than we did in Zermatt because there is more around Interlaken and there is A LOT to do. Wehn you are in the heart of Interlaken you are surrounded by the Alps and the Jungfraujoch (the highest point in Europe) looms over the city on one side and the Harder Klum, Interlaken’s local mountain looks down on the town on the other side. It really has to be seen to be believed. When we arrived we dropped our bags off at our hotel and just wandered the city and grabbed some food in the city center. After we ate we wandered by the river and hung out in the gorgeous park in the middle of the city and took in the amazing scenery.
On our first full day in Interlaken we took the bus to around the Lake Brienz. It was pretty cool. The scenery is amazing, there are a lot of cool houses and small restaurants around the lake where you can just hang out and take pictures. If you reserve ahead of time you can rent kayaks and go out on the lake. There is also a ferry you can take but we just messed around and took some pictures, ate some food and went back to Interlaken.
We did not spend as much time as we figured we would around the lake so we had time to take the Funicular up the Harder Klum. This was really cool. It is a tiered gondola on a track that goes up the really really steep Harder Klum that is looks down on Interlaken. It was a short walk to the base of the Funicular from our hotel and we jumped on the Funicular and went to the top. It is really cool to be able to see everything as you go up and the mountain is really steep so it is definitely a unique experience to ride the car up because it is on a track going up the mountain and not suspended like a traditional gondola or ski lift. When you get to the top there is a cool little cafe where we had coffee and there is an observation deck where you can see EVERYTHING!! It was awesome to stand out there and take pictures and take in the sights. There are picnic tables and chairs at the top that you can hang out in and relax. You can walk up the mountain and down it instead of taking the funicular but we just wandered around the top and cruised down some of the trails and went back to the funicular base and rode it down. It was really fun and a great way to see the whole valley and take in the Alps. Across from the Harder Klum you can see the Eiger and when it is clear the Jungfraujoch (the top of Europe). You can also see both of the pristine lakes that border Interlaken and watch the hang gliders land in the central park. Definitely worth doing if you make the trip to Interlaken.
The next day was my favorite day of our stay in Interlaken and one of my top days in Switzerland. We wanted to explore the mountain towns around Interlaken and go WAY up into the Alps. When I say way up into the Alps, I mean it. Like I mentioned in the last post, we went to Switzerland to be in the Alps and to take in the beautiful country. Nothing quite says the Alps like the iconic Eiger, the famous peak the company The North Face is named after and the Jungfraujoch, which houses the highest train station in Europe. We rode the train up and passed through awesome mountain towns that look like they would be a whole lot of fun during ski season and got off at Alpiglen station, bought some trinkets and coffee and wandered around for a second then we went up to the base of the Eiger and got off.
The Jungfraujoch was covered in clouds so we opted out of going all the way up. We got off and walked into the amazing snow covered mountains and grassy meadows. We walked all the way down to the town of the Grindlewald, it was an amazing hike. We saw crazy huge vistas of towering peaks and towns perched high up between two mountain peaks. The trek down was probably the coolest thing we did in Switzerland. The views, the pictures, the colors, the water color, the blue grey pools of water, so amazing. As I am writing this I really do long to get back there. It is unlike anywhere I have been and honestly is one of those things I will carry with me for the rest of my life. We will definitely be going back there. The trails down are clearly marked and it is not a hard walk. We came to the mountain town Grindlewald where we would catch the train back to Interlaken. Grindlewald is cool. The train stops in the middle of the town and its streets are lined with ski lockers, restaurants, and adventure gear outfitters. It seems like a great place to be when winter is in full swing. In fact, this whole area seems like it would be one of the coolest places in the world to be when it is covered in snow. There is some great terrain and some cool places to stop in for a drink or some coffee. The Jungfrau Railway is a MUST when you are traveling through Switzerland.
On our last day we boarded our last train and headed to Zurich in the late morning and arrived in the early afternoon. As I said before, we are generally not huge fans of cities but Zurich was really cool. I am glad we had a few hours to explore the old city and wander around. We just walked and found some food and coffee and people watched. The architecture is awesome and the people were really warm. The food was good and it was an awesome end to our adventure. The next day we headed to the Zurich airport, then on to Charles De Gaulle airport then back stateside. Switzerland is pure magic. Put it on your list and start planning, it is somewhere I still think about at least once a week and we will definitely be heading back there at some point. Maybe I can convince Amy to head back during the winter so we can see it as the winter wonderland it definitely is.