I’m very lucky to have in-laws that I like and enjoy spending time with. Even better, they like to travel and have a great sense of adventure to boot. Switzerland is one of my mother in-laws favorite places in the world, so on their first visit to see us in Switzerland, she suggested we take a trip to Interlaken where they honeymooned some 23 years ago. Of course it was yet another holiday called Whit Monday (Monday of the Holy Spirit) so we booked a three day weekend at the Lindler hotel for the six of us and we headed out on the hour and a half long journey, in a car this time.
I had not bothered to read up on the area, and instead preferred to be surprised by what the town had to offer (or let’s be honest, I was lazy). I was pleasantly surprised to find a quiet breathtaking small town at the foot of the Bernese Oberland region of the Swiss Alps with the Aare river running through it.
Switzerland in general, tends to be a fairly homogeneous country with very small pockets of ethnic groups sprinkled here and there. Even in big towns such as Zurich I’m surprised by the lack of diversity, even among people who I assume to be tourists. So, I was really surprised when I arrived at our hotel to find a lobby full of Middle East and Chinese patrons. As we walked through the town, our hotel, as it turns out, was no exception. I saw more Hijab’s and selfie sticks in one day than I had seen in four months in all of Switzerland. Tourist information, restaurant menus and various signs were written in Arabic and Chinese. Stepping into the Swatch store, I was even accidentally greeted with “ni-hao” by an employee.
As we began to explore the town and search for our next meal, we happened upon a gorgeous Japanese garden with a Koi pond. We soon learned that a Japanese city by the name of Otsu is one of five sister cities with Interlaken and has been so since 1978. As a sign of mutual respect for one another, Otsu has two ships named Interlaken I and Interlaken II that operate on Lake Biwa it Otsu, and one of the trains operated by the railway in Interlaken is named Otsu.
One of the most exciting things for the kids to see was the constant stream of para gliders and hang gliders coming down from the mountain range and landing in a field smack in the center of Interlaken. It was incredible to watch and to imagine the views they had on their way down. We even saw one Chinese tourist land while snapping away on her selfie stick. Of course over the next 3 days, the kids constantly asked when they could do it. We shall see how adventures Grandma and Grandpa really are next time they come visit!
The center of town was a bit touristy, filled with shops, restaurants and casinos, but the visuals were great for kids and adults alike.
Heading off the beaten path a bit, we found the residential part of town that was breathtakingly beautiful, quiet and serene. We took photos galore and fed a lot of ducks and swans along the way!
We found a lovely Thai Restaurant by the name of TukTuk Thai that served delicious food and provided entertainment for our children in the form of the restaurant owner’s son, Orlando. Lincoln unsure of which language to communicate in tried out Mandarin and was mildly successful. The switched off between Chinese, German and English while watching iphone videos and running in the streets.
We ended our first night by heading to Husi Bierhaus for a nightcap and desert (much better option than the Hooters in town). The beer list was extensive and the desert delicious (Guinness chocolate cake and Captain Morgans spiced ice cream). We vowed to come back for dinner the following night, which of course we did after a long day in Lauterbrunnen and Wengen. Our last meal was at a lovely restaurant on Monday for lunch before we headed home. Anyone heading to this part of town should check it out as well, Ox Restaurant!