This weekend, I finally got to venture beyond the Italian border and work as a tour guide in Switzerland.
Aside from dealing with long overnight buses, the responsibility of helping students plan their weekend, and gloomy, inclement weather, I had an unforgettable weekend in Switzerland’s Adventure Capital. The highlights of my trip to Interlaken are as follows.
Exploring The Town
Interlaken’s charm managed to shine through the overwhelmingly grey weather with ease. Despite the eeriness caused by the heavy fog, I found myself captivated by the architecture of the town. Some buildings were magnificent and colorful, others were humble and rustic. Souvenir shops drew tourists like magnets, with organized displays of Swiss army knives, thick wool socks, and handmade crafts. Occasionally the clouds parted, revealing the giant cliff walls of the surrounding mountains.
Eating Heartwarming Food
Swiss cuisine appears to have two main food groups: cheese and chocolate. Though the health freak in me wasn’t thrilled about constantly eating such heavy food, I left Switzerland with no regrets. We stayed at the Mattenhof Hotel, which served amazing freshly baked bread with cheese for breakfast. My cheese adventure continued with the most mind-blowing Mac n cheese at Hüsi Bierhaus, and a decadent dinner of melty cheese fondue at Balmers.
My chocolate adventure also brought me to Balmers, where I indulged in a sickeningly sweet chocolate fondue with fruit and cookies. Funky Chocolate Club is also a necessary stop in Interlaken, where you can buy thick hot chocolate, unique chocolate bars, and life-changing chocolate covered strawberries.
Skiing In The Alps
With the world famous Swiss Alps right around the corner, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ski while in Interlaken. I took the train to Grindelwald, an adorable ski town which acts as a gateway to the Jungfrau Region of the Alps. After renting gear from Buri Sport, I took another train up the mountain to Kleine Scheidegg, a mountain pass which rests at 2,061 meters above sea level. After taking in the views of the giant, snow capped peaks and the tiny gingerbread villages in the valley below, I embarked on some of the most fun skiing of my life.
I spent the rest of the afternoon gliding over blinding white snow, and curving through winding woodland trails. Near the bottom of the mountain, the rain made the slopes a bit icy, but near the top, the swirling snowstorm made for a surreal skiing experience.
Kayaking On Lake Brienz
For a different perspective of Interlaken’s natural beauty, I went kayaking with HighTide Kayak School on the picturesque Lake Brienz. We wore heavy duty wetsuits to block out the frigid temperatures, though the scenery was so spectacular I may not have even noticed the cold. Thick blankets of fog hovered above the snowy surrounding villages, and the icy glacial water shone a deep turquoise. Aside from the subtle rushing sound of the paddles slicing through the glassy water, silence rolled through the lake, putting me into a dreamlike state.
Eventually we beached our kayaks and hiked up a Bronze-Age stone castle, where our group of seven shared tea, chocolate, and good conversation. Behind the castle we could see a tiny village, where the symmetrical brown wooden homes spilled over the landscape like a sea of legos on a carpet. The grass here was a rich green, but just beyond the village the temperature dropped and a thick frost smothered the trees creating a real-life snow globe scene.