What is it about Switzerland that makes it a dream destination for so many people around the world? Well, Yash Chopra might have played a small role in popularizing it for us Indians but Rick Steves probably answers this best in his quote –
Switzerland reminds me of the kid at high school who’s great at sports, has perfect hair, the best girlfriend, and the teachers all love him. He’s just too perfect.
And I couldn’t agree more. Our transition from Italy to Switzerland felt like moving from the abode of history, culture, art and architecture to the abode of nature. And not the wild, untamed kind of nature but the kind that seems to have been designed by a German precision engineer thus making Switzerland a picture perfect destination.
THE PERFECT SWISS TOWN
Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, situated between two lakes and sitting alongside the river connecting those lakes, it is as if Interlaken was granted a privileged position by nature itself. This perfect little town was going to be our temporary residence for the next three days. Getting to Interlaken from Milan was easy enough. A train from Milan got us to Spiez in two and a half hours. In Spiez we bought tickets for Interlaken and in a few minutes we were standing on the platform of Interlaken West Station.
In our first blog, we had mentioned that hotels in Interlaken were pretty expensive due to which we opted for apartment stay. Our apartment was located about 10 minutes away from the Interlaken West Station in a quiet residential area away from the hustle-bustle of the tourist spots. It was a simple room but had a personal touch to it as its furniture was made by the owner who was an artist. And then there was that breath-taking view of the mighty Alps too.
We quickly freshened up and then, since we had the entire evening to ourselves, set out to explore the town.
DISCOVERING INTERLAKEN ON FOOT
We knew it was a small town but didn’t presume that a few random turns would take us to the periphery of the town so quickly. But I am still thankful that we took those random turns as they gave us an evening to remember.
So there we were walking amongst tourists on a street which was surrounded by hotels, shops and restaurants and suddenly at the very next turn we found ourselves all alone standing on a small bridge over the Aare river with spectacular landscapes all around us.
It was so serene and romantic that instead of walking back into the town we continued our journey away from it without any clue where it was going to lead us to.
First we came across charming little Swiss homes which had beautifully kept gardens. After a while those houses got left behind and what accompanied us were typical Swiss countryside scenes right out of postcards and Bollywood movies – cows grazing in the alpine meadows with mountains in the background and a wooden Swiss chalet to complete the picture. For almost an hour we walked in this divine setting with no other person in sight.
Eventually our path merged with a highway which was connected to Interlaken but we were in no mood to end our walk so we took sort of a u turn and got off the highway and stumbled upon a tiny path which was heading towards Interlaken. It was a scenic path which ran along the river. We followed this path for another hour or so and ultimately reached the Interlaken west station.
MORE INDIANS THAN EUROPEANS
Once we reached the centre of the town we realised how hungry we were after that long walk so we decided on having an early dinner. After relishing Italian food for more than a week we were now craving for some Indian food. It was while searching for an Indian restaurant that we realized that there were lots and lots of Indians around. Couples, families, groups, wherever you looked you could see an Indian! We came across many more Indians over the next couple of days and even acquainted ourselves with a family from Delhi. The significance of the number of Indian tourists that visit Switzerland became apparent to us as soon we found our Indian restaurant. This restaurant had written its menu on a blackboard outside in HINDI!!
After a proper Indian meal with some papad and acchar which was very fulfilling but did cost us close to €47, we made our way back to the apartment and called it a day.