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.
The way to a girl’s heart
Lunch in Interlaken
Doorways of Interlaken
The doorways of Interlaken are painted to look especially inviting.
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.
Scenes from Interlaken
Hotel, Interlaken, Switzerland
Scenes on the road between Interlaken and Lucerne
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.