September 2008
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Trip to Switzerland: Part 1 – Reaching Interlaken

We were involved in the daily grind of office, and were really needing a break. The initial plan was to plan a trip to Switzerland by end of September, and there was some careful planning going on, although at a slow place (September end was after all, more than 3 months away). And then suddenly, in June end, we decided that we really needed a break, and why can’t we go in July ? Keep in mind that we were talking about a period that was only 2 weeks away, and we had to plan visas, place to visit, hotel stay, plane tickets, and so on. Well, no point in going through all the details of this part (suffice it to say that we got the visas in the nick of time); in a matter of 2 weeks we were on our way to Switzerland for a short (4 nights stay) trip. This was about a standard a trip as is possible – I had checked many sites and the trip that was advised for us was the standard one; 2 nights for a trip to Interlaken, Jungfrau (the Top of Europe), Lucerne, and Mt. Pilatus.
What we had been given as part of the package were plane tickets, 5 days of rain passes on Swiss Rail (including the journey to Jungfrau and Mt. Pilatus), and hotel bookings (with complimentary breakfast). I was a bit worried, since the only thing we knew about where we were going was through Google searches, and we were on our own during this traveling.
To cut a long story short, we soon reached Zurich airport, the point of arrival in Switzerland. Immigration and customs was a breeze, and soon we were out of the airport terminal and into the building next door (which is where the trains were to be caught – the train station was located underground). Since we did not enough about where to get a train to Interlaken, I went into the tourist office located right there and asking the friendly lady at the counter about how to get to Interlaken West from where we were. She promptly entered those details into her computer and handed me a card with the train numbers and timings. It seemed a bit complicated, since we had to catch a train to Bern, and take another train to Interlaken. However, you cannot believe how friendly Swiss Rail is. All stations have signages that display which train arrives next and goes to which station, and when the train is arriving, a voice announces where the first class and second class coaches are (we took first class – useful since second class coaches are more crowded, and if you carrying luggage, a more empty coach is much more helpful).

Zurich to Bern via train was a normal journey, but as we moved from Bern towards Interlaken on the second train journey, the surroundings grew more beautiful as we mvoed towards Interlaken. Soon, we could see what Switzerland looks like in brochures, with lots of greenery, big fields, mountains, snow lines, blue sky, water streams, and a beautiful arch bridge.

As we moved close to Interlaken, we could soon see a beautiful Lake with an amazing color; we had reached near Lake Thun, a pretty large lake that was bounded by hills on one side and by picture perfect houses on the other side. The train itself would sometimes go pretty close to the Lake, and after a total journey of a few hours, we reached the Interlaken West station (a very small and open station with 2 platforms).

Map to Interlaken (Google Maps)

View Larger Map

Our booking was in a hotel called Chalet Oberland, located around 500 meters away from the station, and located as you move into the town. Interlaken is a pretty small place, known primarily as the launch pad for cruises into Lake Thun, and for the start of the journey to Jungfrau (from the Interlaken East train station). Our flight had landed around noon, and we reached Interlaken late afternoon. Soon after we got recuperated from the journey and were ready to head out, we first thought of the ship cruise on Lake Thun, but the last cruise for that starts around 5, and we had already crossed that time. So, instead we roamed around, saw this beautiful stream running through Interlaken that was coming from the mountains. The place is fabulous for exploring by walking, and after some 2 hours, we headed back towards the hotel.

In July, Interlaken was not hot, but was definitely warm, and the sky had light till late in the evening (around 9 PM). There is a lot of night activity in the place, with streetside cafes open, and people sitting there, enjoying some great food with a drink of their choice. We also had dinner, and soon after, ended the first day of our travel.

Playing chess on the street.

You can see many more photos at this location.

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