Interlaken – a gap between the alps

Interlaken

DSC03103 Interlaken Barbie x
Barbara in Interlaken

Since we were in the neighborhood (only one or two mountains away), we chose to visit Interlaken on our way home from Abelboden and Our Chalet.  Interlaken is a beautiful, graceful city with the clearest water imaginable. Stephan said it was the color of melted snow.  We could see the bottom of the Aare river even when it was more than 20 feet deep.

The dam keeper decides how much water to let out at any time – on the day we visited it was gushing out of four sluices and into the rivers that feed all the cities — including Lucerne — below.  It was August and this was snow melt.

A sign near the river gave us a bit more information:

Since the Middle Ages, the bridges over the various arms of the River Aare provided the only options for getting from Neuhaus on Lake Thun via Unterseen to Aarmuhle, Interlaken, and on to the valleys of the Jungfrau Region.

The River Aare has formed a boundary since the land between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz was settled.  Relations between the city of Unterseen to the north and Interlaken  Monastery to the south was hostile. Unterseen belonged to the diocese of Constance, while the monastery followed the orders of the diocese of Lausanne, a fact often used to the advantage of the people of Unterseen.  Fishing rights, control of the market, and bridge tolls caused endless disputes.

An emerging tourist resort under the name of Interlaken emerged after 1891.  Interlaken, meaning “between the lakes” was renamed to attract hordes of 19th century English-speaking tourists.

It was interesting to me that an informational sign would air the region’s dirty laundry.  I was impressed that the area recognized disputes of the past as significant history to share with others.

Unterseen is the older part of town on the west bank of the Aare river.  Interlaken is the newer part of town - developed for tourism - on the east bank.  
Unterseen is the older part of town on the west bank of the Aare river.  Interlaken is the newer part of town – developed for tourism – on the east bank. You can see the towns’ coats of arms on the bridge designating which part of the dam belongs to which city.
DSC02607 (1) Unterseen Switzerland x
Unterseen is on the west bank of the river.
DSC02573 (1) Interlaken x
Interlaken is on the east bank of the river.
The Aare river is Switzerland's longest river and feeds into the Rhine which we would be traveling on in just a few days.
The Aare river is Switzerland’s longest river and feeds into the Rhine which we would be traveling on in just a few days.
Fountains like this dot every city center all over Europe. The water is drinkable and we often refilled our water bottles with free, crystal clear water.
Fountains like this dot every city center all over Europe. The water is drinkable and we often refilled our water bottles with free, crystal clear water.
This is another free fountain just down the street. (See the river through the little window in the top right of the wall? That's what we drank.
This is another free fountain just down the street. (See the river through the little window in the top right of the wall? That’s what we drank.)
Even the fire hydrants are beautiful in Interlaken.
Even the fire hydrants are beautiful in Interlaken.
The way to a girl’s heart
DSC03136 Interlaken Rachel Maureen x
Stephan definitely knows how to please the ladies. He bought chocolate for all of us! Here Rachel and Maureen make their selections.
Lunch in Interlaken

We enjoyed a fresh, tasty lunch along with a handful of tourists.  Maybe it was the mountain air or maybe it was because we are always ready to eat, but we were hungry and this more than satisfied.

DSC03132 Interlaken x

DSC03131 Interlaken x

DSC03130 Interlaken x

We didn't eat hear - kind of wish we had. Who doesn't like cow for lunch?
We didn’t eat hear – kind of wish we had. Who doesn’t like cow for lunch?
This place didn't serve lunch but we wished it had - it looked tempting. (sorry)
This place didn’t serve lunch but we wished it had – it looked tempting. (sorry)
Doorways of Interlaken

The doorways of Interlaken are painted to look especially inviting.

Interlaken, Switzerland
Interlaken, Switzerland
Interlaken, Switzerland
Interlaken, Switzerland
Working city

As a tourist, I sometimes forget that I am visiting a little town of 5,500 people that has a real life beyond tourism.  When I lived in Chagrin Falls, we used to smile at the “cone lickers” who would day visit to enjoy the charm of our little town, including the ice cream.  The tables turned for me on this adventure as I was the cone licker in Interlaken.

DSC03144 Interlaken x
Work goes on and there were construction vehicles everywhere making hay while the sun shined.
DSC03146 Interlaken x
Children at play on a local swing set in one of the few level patches of grass.
Scenes from Interlaken
Want to sight see and you can't find a luggage locker? No problem.
Want to sight see and you can’t find a luggage locker? No problem.

Hotel, Interlaken, Switzerland

Hotel, Interlaken, Switzerland

Shop, Interlaken, Switzerland
Shop, Interlaken, Switzerland
DSC02311 Interlaken x
Interlaken, Switzerland
Interlaken, Switzerland
Interlaken, Switzerland
DSC02556 Unterseen Interlaken x
Interlaken, Switzerland
Sign in a daycare window
Sign in a daycare window
In case you brought your dog...
In case you brought your dog…
DSC03134 Interlaken x
Winters are long, wood is plentiful, and carvings abound.

DSC03124 Interlaken copywrite Barbara Grano

Scenes on the road between Interlaken and Lucerne
Skydivers in Switzerland
Skydivers in Switzerland
Swiss traffic circle
Swiss traffic circle
Just another pretty barn on the road between Interlaken and Lucerne.
Just another pretty barn on the road between Interlaken and Lucerne.
DSC03158 Interlaken x
We saw small waterfalls throughout our drive through Switzerland. The water table is so high in some places that cemeteries have to be built on hillsides.

If you are considering a visit to Interlaken, Rick Steves says to pick up a free town map, timetable and hiking guide at the main TI at the Interlaken Ost train station (Rick Steves Best of Europe 2015).  He also offers a self-guided 45-minute walk of Interlaken complete with maps.  I hope you enjoyed my little visual tour as much as I enjoyed visiting Interlaken.

 

Author: barbgrano1

Just let me see the world! I'm currently focusing on the US and Europe and invite you to share my travels. I teach ethics and political science at St. Petersburg College part time; I retired as a college administrator in Ohio. I am a total geek about government with huge wishes for continued freedom and respect for the individual. We must each do our part.

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