Interlaken, Switzerland

Interlaken, Switzerland 4/11/12 – 4/15/12 March 30th I walked into work (IAC) determined to book a trip for April 11th – 15th. I knew it was short notice and flights would be higher but I didn’t care. I needed a vacation and so did Amber. We had a couple places in mind like Paris, Ireland, Germany, and Iceland. When looking at those places I came up with another choice, Interlaken Switzerland. We saw this place when we watched The Bachelor, which is Amber and my guilty pleasure. I decided once I booked the trip…I would surprise Amber with it. I decided to be super cheesy and reedited the beginning of the bachelor episode where they went to Interlaken and put Amber’s name and pictures of us in it. I looked on Trip Advisor for the best hotels and number one was Hotel Bellevue. The reviews were great and the room was surprisingly cheap for three nights ($645 USD). I researched the places to eat on Trip Advisor and made a reservation at Benacus. The rest of the nights we would eat at other highly rated restaurants. As far as excursions / tours I really wanted to do a Helicopter ride so I found a bike tour that included it. Amber was constantly guessing where she thinks she was going. I would tell her everyday from when I booked it up until the Airport that it was a different place. One day it was Germany another was Iceland and so on. I showed her a map of places and said it is on this map with a label. All countries we talked about were on that map. Switzerland was not labeled so I knew she would have no idea that could be an option. When we arrived at the airport I told Amber to put my headphones on and wait until I got back. I already printed the tickets and had them in my bag but wanted to find someone to film the reaction so I could be in it as well. I found two foreigners who were reluctant at first but when I explained the situation, one agreed to film it. I came back over to Amber and told her to take her headphones off. The rest of what happened takes place in this video below. After the video ended we were on our way! The flight was direct to Zurich. It left at about 5:50pm EST and we arrived at about 7:30am the next morning in Zurich. The train ride was quite expensive 138CHF round trip per person. I think the guy at the ticket counter might have ripped me off but I can’t be sure. We had to transfer in Bern to our next train, which was going to be on the same track. The train ride there was an excursion itself. The views were magnificent and “majestic”. I couldn’t stop taking pictures as the train flew through the countryside and mountains. When we arrived in Interlaken, our first impression was disbelief. Everywhere you looked there were mountains in the distance. All the pictures I took looked like a Kodak moment.
It was as soon as I stepped of the train I realized I didn’t have cellphone service. My telecom director assured me my phone would work in Switzerland, but he forgot I had Verizon and I didn’t have a GSM card in my iPhone. I was phoneless for the entire trip. I could check emails only at the hotel, which I could do on my iPad and laptop anyway. At first I was annoyed but realized my trip would be stress free, as I couldn’t be interrupted with emails while traveling around town. The first night we bought a bottle of wine and drank it at the room. We then headed next door to the Golden Anker for more drinks and food. Both of us had burgers with fries but for drinks I had local beer and two very strong drinks. One of the drinks was called Kirsh. It was made from cherries but tasted nothing like cherries. The other drink tasted like liquorish. The burgers were made with fresh local meat and tasted delicious. It was quite juicy by itself but the bacon, lettuce, and tomato only made it even better.
We headed back to our room and called it a night. The next day was our bike tour (Flying Wheels) at 10:00am. When we got to the bike shop, I finally met Frank. I emailed Frank two days before our trip to Interlaken and was hoping he would respond in time for our trip since this looked really fun to do. He responded that day with different trips he offers and which would be best for Amber and I to take. I was going to go for the Interlaken tour but he recommended Lauterbrunnen tour if I have a full day to tour. I’m so glad he made that recommendation because the feeling of bicycling through fields with giant mountains on each side was overwhelmingly beautiful! He packed ponchos since rain was expected early in the trip and it was suppose to clear up. Thankfully Frank was right as it only rained for only 10 minutes of the tour. He would bike next to us and give detailed explanations about the town we were in. The electric bikes made it easier to last the 25 miles (40km) we biked. We stopped to go inside a waterfall, which was short and fun. It gave us a rest to regroup and enjoy more of Switzerland’s beauty without having to watch where we were riding.
This is where we would do our jumping picture. Frank has high tech burst mode on his camera, which made it much easier to get the picture. Amber and I stopped for our Helicopter tour with BOTAG. When Frank called earlier in the day they said that it wasn’t looking good for the big helicopter tour I wanted to book. It was too foggy and there wasn’t enough visibility for a helicopter to be up there. We took the only helicopter tour available. The Interlaken tour. It was shorter than the rest but they could still do this tour since it didn’t go into the foggy areas. It wasn’t cheap but totally worth it in my eyes. I don’t know if the pilot and his helping hand were annoyed they had to stick around for us, but they were probably the least friendly people that we met in Switzerland. The helping hand didn’t escort Amber off the helicopter he just stared at her as she struggled to get down. Her knee banged against the helicopter sending excruciating pain throughout Amber’s body. We quickly sat down at a bench nearby where she rode the pain out. We were still in the mountains so she would have to still bike her way back with me. It was enjoyable just the two of us riding around getting “lost” in Interlaken. Even if you make a ton of wrong turns you can still find your way. After the tour we walked around the town some more. We walked into a Swiss chocolate store where the salesman kept feeding us chocolate. We would stop a different type of chocolate, look at it, and he would stop over and let us try a piece of it. Great way to win over your customers! I picked up some chocolate for home and my parents so I ended up spending about $130 USD. After looking at watches, Swiss army knives, and jewelry we continued through the town. Amber lit up when I pointed out a shop called Solarium. She said “THESE ARE TANNING BOOTHS!” I wasn’t as thrilled as she was but it looked like it made her day. She took some pictures inside and we continued walking around town.
For dinner we ate at a Mexican restaurant called El Azteca. It was quite expensive but the food was incredible. We had a tequila sunrise, sangria, four different types of quesadillas, two different types of soup, and chicken with a chili chocolate sauce. The owners of the restaurant whipped out guitars and started playing mariachi music. Everyone enjoyed the music clapping along filling the restaurant with a positive vibe. We left full and headed back to our hotel. You could hear the old men playing their guitars all the way down the street as we walked home. The town was dead at this time and reminded us of Florence Italy.
Our last full day we were going to head to Bern since it was raining and many locals said Bern is good during the rain but we couldn’t make it. Our legs were killing and we needed a massage. We looked online for places all over and around Interlaken. Most were super expensive and far away. We decided to call hotel reception to ask where we could get a massage. They said the hotel has a masseuse in house that could provide one. We each got an amazing hour long body massage, which really helped bring the pain down. After our massage we met up with Frank from the bike shop. We ate at his friends place and #1 of trip advisor restaurants Blueberry’s Juice Bar. It was an ice cream shop that had a few food items that you could eat. Chris / the owner of Blueberry’s was by himself working the restaurant. Amber had a fresh bacon, egg and cheese Keesh with a tossed salad, and I had a hot and spicy Panini with tomato soup. Everything was absolutely delicious. Chris was also a comedian making little jokes here and there, which made Amber and I laugh.
We hung out at the hotel for a bit and then went to our dinner reservation at Benacus. Benacus was a high class restaurant that reminded me of The London in New York City. Chef René Schudel has a show on Switzerland TV and stopped by all his tables to chat. When we mentioned we were from New York City he lit up. He goes there every year to cook for the firefighters in Brooklyn and eat out at the restaurants. He gave us his business card and said to send him an email so he would let us know when he is in town. The beef and pork we had was delicious and a perfect amount of food since we ate a few hours before.
Throughout the day my head started to hurt and by the time I was at dinner, I had a fever and felt like crap but luckily Amber cheered me up. We headed home after and fell asleep. Finally we left the next morning back to Zurich Airport to go home. We connected in London for six hours and then arrived in JFK. Home sweet home. I felt Interlaken was a place I could move to for a couple of years since it was so peaceful and the people were so nice. Hopefully in the future I’ll get the chance to stay for longer than just 3 full days. Photos from the trip here