Day 1: Nachster Halt – Interlaken
Interlaken is a scenic 2 hour train ride from Lucerne. There are many hotels and restaurants to choose from. The turquoise Aare river flows through it and the Alps are right next door.
Interlaken means “between lakes” and indeed it is; between Breinz lake and Thun lake. You can see all of the small towns during your train/bus ride along these lakes. Interlaken is typically used as home base for exploring the Alps and for all related activities. So be prepared for the crowds of tourists. Also, if you look up, you will most likely find people paragliding high in the air almost anytime during the day.
So there is Interlaken Ost (East) which is the central rail station. And there is Interlaken West which is where most shops/restaurants are. Our day starts in the West, with a chocolate making class at the Funky Chocolate Club. The Swiss are masters of chocolate, not because they have cocoa, but because they have cows (milk). By the end of the class, you learn the basics of chocolate making and actually create 3 large chocolate bars on your own to take home. Totally worth the price of admission.
Other than paragliders, you may also notice a building on top of a large hill when looking up. That would be Harder Kulm; an overlook accessible by funicular which gives you the ultimate view of Interlaken. The funicular is closer to the East side of town. It was cloudy, but I hear you can see the big mountains (Eiger, Monch, Jungfrau) from here on a clear day. But still, you can clearly see 2 lakes on both sides of the town, and the valley behind it leading to the Alps.
After a good lunch at El Azteca, we decided to head to St. Beatus caves via 20 min bus ride by the Thun lake. There are of course other nearby towns to explore as well as the Aare Gorge, Giessbach Falls, and Thun Lake castles but we had to choose one. Check these out and let me know how it was. So the entrance to the caves is a short scenic path up a hill by a waterfall from the bus stop.
If you’re into stalag mites and tites in dark caves then this is for you.
I recommend that you stay in Interlaken for a few nights as there is so much to do especially beyond the Lauterbrunnen valley toward the mountains (stay tuned for the day 7-9 posts). Instead, we headed back to Lucerne and dined at China Restaurant Jialu (tasty but pricey) and went to sleep. The mountain adventures start tomorrow…