Our first trip to Interlaken! - Olliechinny
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Our first trip to Interlaken!

What happens when your husband happens to have a work conference in Interlaken for the week…? You drop everything and tag along, OF COURSE!

It’s been almost three weeks and I catch my self still daydreaming about winter in Interlaken!

It was the day right after we landed in Lausanne, and Vince was scheduled to attend the Swiss Blockchain Winter School organised by the EPFL in Interlaken. As tired as I was from our flight, I wasn’t gonna miss out on my very first trip out in Switzerland and the chance to see real snow in Interlaken, so I excitedly followed along!

The Escape

Interlaken is centered at the heart of the Bernese Alps, nestled perfectly between Lake Brienz to the east, and Lake Thun to the west. It’s also one of my bucket-list item to do skydiving in too (saving that for later…when I’m feeling richer!).

We took a breezy 3 hour train from Lausanne to Interlaken West station, and I managed to capture some mountain shots along the way!

For our accommodation, we stayed at Hotel Bellevue. We loved how centrally located and easily accessible it was: Just 5 minutes away from the train station and 8 minutes walk to the Congress Centre Kursaal where Vince’s conference was held.

They have a delightful breakfast selection in an elegant old-world restaurant setting (PLUS, they serve the best cafe lattes: I actually slurped two cups down on my last day!). Our room also came with a cosy balcony, which offered stunning views of the river Aare and the surrounding mountains: We spent one of our evenings simply watching a serene sunset from there.

Overall, we enjoyed our 2-day stay at Bellevue, and I think it would be wonderful choice for business and leisure travellers alike, no matter your budget.

Gorgeous views from our room balcony!

Beatenburg

Upon our hotel receptionist’s recommendation, we started our day bright and early and headed towards Beatenburg, an idyllic hillside village-escape about 600m above Interlaken.

Above the village sits the Niederhorn, which offers a breathtaking and unparalled panorama view of the famous threesomes: the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau peaksWe took the bus (PROTIP: Do sit on the left side for the best scenic views of the mountains!) which took us directly to the cable car station leading up to the summit.

Note: a round-way ticket up via the cablecar costs 43.60 swiss francs, and 21.80 francs with a half-fare travel-card. If you head there early enough before 9am like we did, you might be able to get tickets at a slight discount!

Our faces were glued to the windows as we went higher…higher…into the clouds!

The views from the top of Niederhorn were just unreal! It was like being in snow paradise and simply cannot be fully captured by a camera. I could only imagine just how much more spectacular it would be at the higher up mountains!

Around us, there were many Swiss locals with their families dressed in their full skiing gear, getting ready to plunge down from the top of the slopes…while we could only watch them with envy from afar! I think I would really benefit from some ski/snowboarding lessons soon. (Anyone with recommendations for skii-instructors in Switzerland/France?)

It was way too cold to be out for too long…so I rushed in to the restaurant terrace to sip on some hot camomile tea, and to Facetime the beautiful views to my mom and mom-in-law! I make it a point to schedule time off and to give both parents a call once every two days, to keep them updated on our daily happenings.

Lake Thun

Later in the afternoon, we took a quiet stroll along Lake Thun. The waters were sparkling and enchanting….a clear turquoise blue. We also spotted some swans swimming gracefully around the bank, so cute!

We were supposed to take the bus to return to Interlaken but damn… we missed it! That’s the thing about Swiss buses: they are extremely punctual, almost to a fault. Given that it was a village setting and the next bus was not to come till half an hour later…we decided to walk back from the lake instead. It took us a good 20 minutes… but the weather was perfect with cool breezes against our faces, and the walk actually turned out pretty enjoyable. Vince and I had long conversations recounting the months before our move Switzerland, while walking through the bare winter trees with orange fallen leaves. It was a beautiful sight to remember.

Guided Walking Tour (It’s free!)

Because Vince was still busy at the conference, I ventured out on my own for our last day and went for the free walking tour! And it so happened that I was the only one that showed up. Not that I mind, though, because it meant that I was in for a private tour, yaye! 🙂

Hands up if you too are guilty of visiting new countries without really understanding their history and cultures apart from taking touristy pictures…! Because that’s really me sometimes when I’m holidaying. Well, nothing beats free walking tours (Although they ARE free technically, since most local guides do what they are doing out of passion for their cities…but I still gave mine a small tip at the end of the tour, as a token gesture of appreciation!) when it comes to being the best value-for money travel experience, because it allows you to cover a lot of ground and expand your knowledge of a particular city within just a few hours.

My guide was a local lady called Janet, and it was an absolute 2 hours well-spent as I listened to her recounting the tales of old Interlaken and the surrounding regions. Here are some bits of the town’s history + fun facts that i’d learnt from her!

  • The Catholic and Protestant churches are interestingly housed side by side, with the latter built later during the Reformation period. Next to the churches stands the Augustine monastery built around 1133, which was later converted to a hospital, and is now the center for administration in Interlaken commune.
  • The flag of Interlaken commune has the alpine ibex (as it’s one of the distinct animals within the region) on it, while the state flag of Bern, (the Swiss capital) has the bear as its symbol. Legend has it that the city’s founder Duke of Zähringen decided that he would name the city after the first animal that he successfully hunted. As you would have guessed…that animal was a bear.
  • The Casino Interlaken was founded in 1858, but sadly only lasted one year before the law banning gambling in Bern took effect! It was only re-opened in 2002 after a new Swiss casino legislation was passed.
  • The Jungfrau (which translates to “virgin” in German) was likely named after the Augustine nuns who lived at the foot of the mountains and grazed their cattle on the alpine meadows!

Janet even brought me to a secret vantage point from the hills outside, which boasted a glorious view of the town. I definitely wouldn’t have discovered this gem of a spot had I wandered around on my own!

PROTIP: The famed Harder Kulm opens only from April to October, hence we weren’t able to head up this time round. But it’s definitely worth the visit and the views from there are even more breathtaking! Be sure to make your way to the Two Lakes Bridge for a 360 degree view of the whole of Interlaken.

It was a pity that we didn’t manage to venture further out, since this was predominantly a work trip, and lasted only 2 days! So much sights to see…but so little time indeed. Nevertheless, I’m hopeful, because both our parents are soon coming over during the spring and summer season, and if time affords, we definitely hope to bring them back to Interlaken + and to explore Lauterbraunnen, Mürren, Jungfrau and Grindelwald too!

Overall, feeling ever thankful that Interlaken was the first Swiss town that I’ve visited since moving to Switzerland, and where I also got to experience the freezing winter for the first time in Europe (Il fait tres foit!), I know that things would only get better from here!

Where are your favourite winter destinations in Switzerland? Share with me in the comments down below!

Love, OllieF

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