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Interlaken - No Longer a Chocolate Box

overcast 3 °C

In its heyday at the beginning of the last century Interlaken was bursting with luxury hostelries catering to the Hooray-Henry’s of the world. It is easy to imagine guests arriving by lake steamer from Bern or on board the luxurious Orient Expresss en-route from Paris to Venice. The Orient Express still stops here infrequently, (as part of a $20,000 US, (per couple), European excursion), but, unfortunately, Interlaken has lost its glamour and is best described today like the weather we encountered on our arrival – a little drab. The five star drinking holes are still here; snobby joints like The Victoria Jungfrau and the Beau Rivage where, off season on a miserable day, you might snag a broom cupboard for three hundred bucks a night…
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But the ritzy hotels have been overshadowed by the numerous backpacker’s hovels and youth hostels where $20 will get you a bed. However, despite the rain and ground hugging clouds, all was not gloomy for us. With a bit of research we found a gem of a hotel just under the mountains on the edge of town…
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The Hirschen Guesthouse is an all wooden inn built in 1666 and it still has many original features, including solid wooden beams capable of decapitating anyone over five feet ten.
Perhaps the only thing missing at the Hirschen is a roaring log fire, nonetheless the central heating kept the place cozy, and the staff were always warm and friendly. The restaurant served excellent traditional food, including the obligatory Swiss cheese fondue…
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And if only the weather had co-operated we were told that we would have a grandstand view of one of Europe’s highest mountains, the Eiger, from our bedroom window. For three days we peered into the gloom hoping to see the fearful mountain which has claimed the lives of more than sixty mountaineers, but we had to be content with views of the emerald glacier-fed rivers and lakes…
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…the gingerbread houses…
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…and the historic buildings that have survived, despite some ugly recent developments…
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Among the recent developments are numerous restaurants serving everything but Swiss food. There are Irish, Indian, Pakistani, Lebanese, English, Korean and Italian eateries, but most common are the Chinese restaurants. Even many of the original Swiss restaurants now offer Chinese buffets and Chinese fondues, (though we have no idea what that means as the Chinese are not known as consumers of cheese). However, the Swiss are known for being inventive – think watches and multi-bladed knives – so who can blame them for wanting to please the huge numbers of Chinese tourists with new found wealth who are flocking here to experience the high life. But the high life doesn’t come cheap in this part of the world. Most things in Switzerland are fairly expensive, (even for Canadians), where a couple of Starbucks’ Earl Grey teas cost us $15 and a five minute bus ride $9. But all is not lost: chocolate, cheese, wine, beer and bread are all much cheaper than at home, so we could happily live here – though we probably wouldn’t live very long.
Now is our last night in Interlaken and we are still peering – the damn mountain has to be out there somewhere. Meanwhile we will console ourselves by watching the snow falling outside and with another box of chocolates…
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Posted by Hawkson 13:13 Archived in Switzerland

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Comments

Love your sense of humour. Beer, cheese and chocolate as a kind of gradual but delicious suicide.

by The Vickerage

Noooo. Chocolate, according to experts, promotes longevity. I'm not sure about beer, bread and cheese, however.

by R and B

In spite of the gloom, it's so beautiful...and the chocalate and cheese must be ample compensation..
love ya's..

by Sharron

Nice to see Lindts looking all high end. Hope there is a last minute parting of the mist as there was for Fuji.
Love the slow suicide comment.. There is a death by chocolate chain here, but obviously not as bold as it could be.

by Tom

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