Interlaken, Switzerland – Monday

The morning after our day in Zermatt, we caught the train back to our car, and then headed for Interlaken, also in Switzerland. It was a shorter drive, so we got there by lunchtime. The drive was really cool:
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The lake is gorgeous – it’s a pale green-blue – just beautiful. We had lunch by the more western lake, the Brienzersee. Before eating we went down to a little park on the water:
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I might add, this whole time navigating by our European road map, and then our googlemap and/or hotel website directions, often in broken English or German, was very challenging, and it added to the whole Amazing Race feel of things. After I got us to our hotel in Interlaken (which was on the shore of the Thunsee), and we found the reception area to check in, I fully expected to see Phil waiting on his mat, with some local who would say “Welcommen to Interlaken”. And then Phil would say, “Doug and Maggie…you are the first team to arrive. But this leg isn’t a pit stop. Here is your next clue.” And it would send us to the Lauterbrunnen Valley to the Trummelbach Falls.

Here is our hotel, Neuhaus, which is right on the lake – we had a large, comfortable room, and we liked the hotel very much. It had such a lovely view. I just wish we could have stayed longer!
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After checking into the hotel, we did indeed head out to the Lauterbrunnen Valley, where we visited the Trummelbach Falls, which is this really cool series of waterfalls inside of the mountain. The valley itself was carved by glaciers, and the steep mountain walls on either side are almost perfectly smooth. The runoff from the Eiger, the Munch, and the Jungfrau mountains (13,000 foot Swiss mountains) feeds into this waterfall – so it is a lot of water. You take an elevator into the mountain and go up and down these stairs to see these cascades of water drop and corkscrew through these passages worn into the mountain. It would be one heck of a flume ride. There are more cascades on the outside of the mountain, so we took the stairs down so we could see them, and the lovely view of the Valley and mountains. Since there are 10 cascades, and they are randomly arranged, we thought a good Amazing Race challenge would be to pick up a flag at each cascade and present them to the ticket seller to get your next clue. It’d be easy to miss one since they were kind of all over.

Here are photos of our drive through the valley to get to the falls:
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And photos of the falls:
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We drove around a bit admiring the mountains afterwards:
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…and then got some dinner a Chinese restaurant in Interlaken. Which was interesting. The food was good – but it was a regular Chinese restaurant – and the bill for 2 dishes, plus spring rolls and 2 beverages came to 64 Francs, which is about 50 bucks! Plus, they charged us extra for the two tiny bowls of rice! What Chinese place charges extra for rice? Regular white rice! The chicken with cashews was really good – but we couldn’t believe how pricy it ended up being – but that was par for the course for Switzerland. It was very expensive there – everything seems high. I don’t know how anyone affords to eat out there!

We had very little time in Interlaken unfortunately – just that one afternoon. We checked out on Tuesday August 22 and knowing that we had a long drive to Frankfurt (and through a great deal of Switzerland), opted to take autobahns and not backroads. So we got to Frankfurt around 4, after leaving at 9:30 or so.

Here are a few images of the drive to Frankfurt:
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Freiburg:
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Our Frankfurt hotel was cool – we had sketchy broken English directions, so I was proud to have gotten us here without getting turned around. It’s kind of near the Festhalle/Messe, which appears to be like a concerthall. This hotel is brand new, and is not in central Frankfurt, so we had no problem parking and our room is gorgeous (and way cheaper than Swiss hotels). Very modern, very new. And free wireless, so yay! A really cool looking shower, which I took a picture of. (Note from 2012: I guess I’ve seen this kind of shower since, but it was really modern for 2006!)
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We had dinner at an Italian place around the corner, which had the best Tiramisu ever.

We flew home the next day – the security lines were really really long because of the recent terror threat, and our suitcases were too heavy, so we had to buy another back, hastily repack, and then lug hugely heavy carry-ons onto the plane. It was really not fun. But we got home safely, if at rush hour. A short 2 hours of stop and go traffic on the Beltway, and we were home!