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Interlaken - June 2007

Today my buddy Jim and I decided to take a drive up from Lutry to Interlaken, Switzerland for a impromptu over-night trip. We packed our bags and jumped in his BMW X3 and headed north. The drive up was great. The roads in Switzerland are really quite nice and not much traffic at all on the freeways. Coming into the city was breath-taking! Interlaken is its namesake being right in a picturesque valley on a little strip of land between to gorgeous lakes. Jim got a room at the Victoria JungFrau Hotel ( right in the downtown area of Interlaken. This was a very elegant hotel right near the city’s center, built in 1865, and has been host to many different famous people over the years, for example; during the Second World War the hotel was used by the Swiss Army Chief of Staff, General Henri Guisan as his headquarters.

After checking in, we wandered around the city for a bit. It isn’t a very large city, but there are a lot of little shops and tourist spots with people coming from all over the world. This weekend was a big festival weekend with a little (no pun intended) Fiat 500 car show where the streets were blocked off to car traffic and a bunch of tent-style booths and food carts now lined the street. We stopped drooling over the shiny and watched a bunch of people paraglide down into a large field across the way from the entrance to the hotel and continued on our way.

In our wanderings we found a Hooters Restaurant (! In the last place I would have ever thought, being one of the only ones in all of Europe if not the only one at the time, and we find it. So, of course we had to stop and have some wings and a beer. Sometimes it is just good to have a little slice of home every once in a while, and boy did it taste good!

The next day we took the trip up the mountain to the JungFrauhJoch, the highest point in all of Europe – 11,333 feet (3,454 meters). A first class train ticket round trip will cost you around 200 Swiss francs. I have never seen such an amazing view. The train ride up the mountain is about 2 hours on 3 different trains, but it is well worth the trouble. The rolling hills and little chalets speckled all over the place reminded me of a scene out of “The Sound of Music” and, in a moment’s notice, the scenery changes from rolling green hills to jagged rock and enormous waterfalls, then to white snow and glaziers.

On the trip up I had to change trains twice and man was it smooth. The workers on the tracks had been informed ahead of me that I was coming and they were ready with a fork lift fitted with a railed platform that had fold down ramps on either side. They pulled up, dropped the ramp, I rolled on. They folded the ramp back up and drove me over to the next train where they dropped the opposite ramp, and off I go. Slick, I tell you!

Make sure you bring your camera for the train ride and a warm coat, because the temperature will change dramatically. At the top you enter through a series of tunnels leading all over the inside of the mountain’s peak.

At the top there are many different places to go, depending on your taste. There is the Sphinx lookout with a killer 360 degree view of the mountains and the frozen lake. Or maybe you fancy a bite to eat at one of the restraints, like the Bollywood. Or better yet, take a wander through the maze of the Ice Palace and see some great ice carvings tucked into the passage ways. Whichever you choose, you will be pleased. I decided to see it all and man, am I glad. Everything is accessible with a little help from the many workers all over the place. You will need their help as the wheelchair lifts to some places are controlled by a key that only a few of them possess.

After a good meal and some unforgettable views we made our way back down the mountain. We checked out of the hotel and made the drive back to the condo in Lutry. I have to say this is probably the best place for a great day trip up the mountain. One of the most beautiful natural views that I have seen yet in Europe.