Swiss travel: Interlaken

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I had a bit of a bet going with my brother-in-law. While we were enjoying the autumn sunshine on the shore of Lake Geneva at Vevey, I commented that this was the most beautiful place I had ever been. He responded with a: just wait til we get to Interlaken, it puts all of this to shame. Apparently my most beautiful place was a little meh for him.

So it was on. We went away for the weekend, all five of us (me, X, Z, sister, brother-in-law) bundled tight in the car, to Interlaken, which is more central Switzerland and firmly within the German-speaking side. Interlaken is situated in between two mountain lakes (hence the name) and is a jumping off point to get to some ski and resort areas higher up in the Alps.

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Now, I’m not going to say that I won the bet. The two places are, undoubtedly, spectacular, and in very different ways. It’s like having the mountains vs. ocean argument – how can you really compare them? I will tell you this: I at least had the weather on my side. Because our weekend in Interlaken was wet. And COLD.

I’m apparently already getting used to Geneva’s climate, because I have no idea how to pack for alpine locations. Like, this is where we were. Notice the snow-covered ground. I packed a sundress and no warm sweater. A SUNDRESS, for god’s sake. I was also apparently in charge of packing for Z, which didn’t really happen, so he was also stuck without proper winter gear, like a jacket. Oops.

We arrived in the little town in time for dinner. Being in these mountain places reminds me so much of Canada – for me, Interlaken was a lot like Fernie. We found a great little B&B, which was affordable by Swiss standards and even more importantly didn’t have issues with a crying toddler because the owner had one of her own. I spent a lot of time with her in the early morning hours just as the kitchen opened, but hours before any other guests made an appearance, thanks to the time changing and X not getting the memo. But we were able to put X down in one room, then congregate in the other room so Z and I didn’t have to go to bed at 8 every night.

The first night we went to a German bar. I haven’t been in a bar in so long, I felt all grown up. Particularly since there was a baby on my lap the whole time. Another awesome thing about Europe: babies in bars.

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The weather down in Interlaken wasn’t that bad, so we were still enjoying life in just sweaters at this point. It gets worse.

The next day, the plan is to head up one of the mountains to Mürren, which is a jumping off point to get to this restaurant that sits basically on the peak of a mountain. Actually, the restaurant, the Piz Gloria, was constructed for and made famous by a ’60s James Bond movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, so if you’re a Bond fan that’s something to check out. The view is supposed to be spectacular, and the restaurant rotates 360, taking in all the panoramic sights. I say supposed to be because we woke up to a heavy mist and rainfall, which affected our plans.

After putting on every single piece of clothing I had brought with me (minus the effing sundress), I felt ready to head into minus celsius territory. Literally, I put my pregnancy leggings under my jeans, and used my belly band as extra insulation. X was firmly wrapped in several blankets and his plastic rain bubble thing and a new tuque was purchased. Then the tire on his stroller, which had blown, had to be repaired. All in all, we got going in remarkably good time, due in large part to X waking up at 5:30 in the morning. We drove into Lauterbrunnen, another village in the valley, surrounded by gondolas.

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The gondolas were my highlight of the day. They were pretty fun and could get swinging pretty good when we came to a post like this one. Not great for the faint of heart, or those with height issues. Luckily there’s lots of bars to hang on to white-knuckled.

We arrived from our first gondola partway up the mountain. It seems like you are SO high up, but you’re basically still in the foothills. Then there was an awesome old-fashioned train that runs the length of the mountain, taking us into Mürren, which is still another jumping off point for other sights.

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This is where we had to make some hard decisions. A lot of gondolas were closed for the day due to weather. Mostly the only other people heading up the mountain with us were base jumpers (paragliders? I don’t actually know what they were doing, but it clearly entailed jumping off of some really high thing). It wasn’t the best day for sight-seeing. The rain was pouring down on us pretty heavily when we decided to find something warm to eat. Piz Gloria didn’t make the cut – while the gondola was still open to get there, the restaurant was basically sitting in a fat cloud and it didn’t justify the price of the gondola up if you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face.

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What we did find was fondue! I’m proud to say that this was my first fondue in Switzerland, and I couldn’t imagine a more fitting setting. It was so delicious, done Swiss style so packed full of garlic and wine. My favourite things. It definitely warmed us up, probably helped to to add an extra coat of fat on us. Do you like the sippy cup of juice at the table and cartoon characters everywhere? This is my life now.

The rain had eased up when we finished lunch, so we wandered around Mürren a little bit. It is another one of those places that takes your breath away. The skiers of the group were getting excited imagining how great it would be to jump onto the mountain from here. The non-skiers were dreaming about hot tubs in beautiful chalets with mountain views. Everyone was pretty happy.

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As beautiful as the setting was, we were shivering pretty fiercely so it was time to head back down to the slightly warmer Interlaken valley. It took two more gondolas and a bus to get back to the car. We got to pass this stomach-churning suspension bridge. The gondolas didn’t bother me, but I suspect if you placed me on that I wouldn’t be able to make one foot step in front of the other.

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The rest of the day was spent entertaining X (and ourselves) at a playground where this happened:

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and trying to find chocolate, which we finally did. My new favourite thing to do is to pick a box at a chocolaterie and tell them to fill it up with a selection, then get bossy and start to pick out all the ones I want them to put in there. New favourite chocolate: milk chocolate infused with Baileys. Come on, that’s just ridiculous.

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Interlaken is amazing. More beautiful than Lake Geneva? Not convinced … I guess I’ll have to go back!

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