After a draining, overcrowded, eleven hour flight I was whisked away from the mayhem of Zurich and set on HÃ¶heweg Strasse in the charming town of Interlaken. Sleeping for what felt like an eternity, I awoke to the vast panorama of the Swiss Alps and the exilerating echo of the mountains. Those ghostly white, jagged peaks evoke magical dreams and powerful emotions within. Finally alert and adjusting well to the six hour time change, I went on a search for the perfect cup of steaming, frothy cappuccino. I wandered outside into the brisk air to see what timeless treasures I could unearth. Interlaken, nestled between lakes Thun and Brienz, (named accordingly â€œInterâ€ between and â€œLakenâ€ lakes) is notorious for being somewhat touristy. But what I discovered was so much more.
Narrow side streets, secret courtyards, clandestine gardens, local pubs, mystifying churches, whispers around corners and hidden passageways were just some of the secrets of this city. Meandering lazily through the town I happened upon a lovely tea room, finally deciding on a warm cup of green tea with a tasty gingerbread cookie on the side. Completely forgetting about my cappuccino, I took my first, real deep breath in almost a year, sipped on my green tea concoction and sunk down so completely in my overstuffed, cushioned chair. Flipping through a few travel pamphlets, which you should never do, I immediately tossed them aside and set off on my own again. I wanted the local feel of Interlaken and I got it.
Interlaken is set in a lower valley surrounded by the Jungfrau, Eiger and MÃ¶nch mountains which include Grindelwald, Schilthorn â€“ Piz Gloria and Kleine Scheidegg, all part of the Bernese Oberland. It started pouring down raining in the valley while I was searching for my next adventure, which forced me to take cover in a traditional bistro called Restaurant NationalÂ®. I was greeted by an adorable Swiss waitress, who was also one of the chefs, recommending a few deserts and wine, as well as her very own homemade cinnamon parfait. Deciding on a German Riesling, pistachio ice cream and, of course, the parfait, I was quite pleased with my decisions. The Riesling was crisp, tart but delicate with a sweet after taste; the ice cream was hand-whipped, and had a buttery, nutty, creamy taste and the cinnamon parfait was, well just that. This being rather odd selections for lunch, I decided that dinner would be my staple.
The misty, gray sky cleared just enough for me to spend a few francs in some local shops. The boutiques around Bahnhofstrasse, Centralstrasse and Marktgasse, directly off of HÃ¶heweg Strasse (â€œstreetâ€), specialized in expensive, beautifully crafted Italian fashion. This being completely out of my budget, I headed to some of the smaller boutiques which happen to have sales or â€œdizkountâ€ as they say. Even with a language barrier a woman can always find a way to spend money. Nile TradingÂ®, Boutique HÃ¤sler, Transit Boutique and Avantgarde Mode ExklusivÂ® happened to be some of my favorites. During my many travels I have come to collect Laufstock Plakete which translates from German to mean walking stick plaques. This being an old tradition when people use to walk everywhere, many collected these small, metal plaques to flaunt on their walking sticks which took the place of postcards and stamp collecting at that time. After draining all of my money on much needed clothing, hand-beaded jewelry, pashmina scarves, wooden trinkets and schnapps I needed a good drink and somewhere to unwind and admire my purchases.
The bars, pubs and nightlife are nearby but you have to ask around to find the really great, local spots. Stumbling upon PositvEinfachÂ®, which translates to mean Positive Simple, I peaked in and saw hot pink walls, worn wooden stools, tasty gnocchi and a wonderfully endearing Hungarian bartender staring back at me. The bartender informed me that I should stick around for that eveningâ€™s entertainment; a salsa band from Los Angeles was in town to perform. I grabbed a few friends and stayed at the pub well into the night. Sharing great German beer, such as Hefeweizen, Bitburger, Edelweiss and the specialty Rugen BrÃ¤u, old stories, dancing and deep, heartwarming laughs, I had made instant friends for life.