Week 5, part 2

A view of Interlaken from the window of our room at the Happy Inn Lodge.

A dam and a covered footbridge are combined in one structure in Thun.

Obbie inspects the workings of the dam gates from inside Thun's covered foot bridge.

Seven birds greet us from atop the covered footbridge in Thun. Three say hello, three want nothing to do with us, and one doesn't care.

Interlaken is on a waterway that joins two glacial lakes. Thun is at the western end of Lake Thun, and Interlaken is at the eastern end. Our train followed the north shore of Lake Thun while the sun was going down, so we spent most of the half-hour train ride with our cameras pointed out the window at the mountains reflecting off the lake. Darkness was setting in as we arrived at Interlaken West station, which is the main station for finding hotels and other amenities. The other station - Interlaken Ost - is the departure point for the Jungfrau region.

When we got off the train, we found a display board listing most (if not all) of the local accommodations with a street map of the neighborhood. It includes a key pad where you can enter a three-digit number for the place you're interested in, and a light would start blinking on the map to show you where it is. We headed for a combination hotel/hostel called the Happy Inn Lodge where a big jovial guy named Peter set us up with a nice double room for SF60. We dropped our packs onto our bed and set out to explore the town.

A few doors down the street we found a store with a plant in the window that would have been quite illegal in our part of the world. The proprietor said he did not have any, and directed us to another shop a few blocks away. At that store and at the next one, we were told to go to Thun. Apparently the first guy we talked to had been shut down by the police, and everyone else in Interlaken was lying low for a while, though they all expressed an expectation that this product would be completely legal in Switzerland in the near future.

After being put off by the prices at the restaurants we'd found (still hadn't recalculated the exchange rate), we went back to the Happy Inn for a light dinner and a couple of beers before spending the rest of the evening in our room writing the letter you read last week.

Switzerland is an odd place language-wise. Most people speak German, some French, still others Italian, and a few in the southeast corner speak some Romany dialect we'd never heard of. Bobber told us that Swiss German was hard to understand, to us it was German with a French accent. We'd also heard German with an Italian accent, and French with a German accent. It seems there was a law that said the language and the accent can't match. Fortunately, everybody seemed to speak fluent English ... it seems to come with being in the hospitality business. We'd even met one woman who we swore had to be a British immigrant, as she spoke with a fluence and an accent that seemed to come straight from the studios of the BBC.

Tuesday's main mission was a day trip to the Jungfrau region, but first we had to go back to Thun to look for a duftsachen (translates to "aroma sack"). A block from the Bahnhof (train station) we found a shop with all kinds of hippy stuff in the window, but the guy there sent us to a place across two bridges and down a long street. We found the place and in the back room was a display of nearly a dozen varieties of flowers priced by the gram and packaged into bags that sold for 10 francs. This translates to less than a third of the American price for comparable product. At least SOMETHING in Switzerland was cheap.

So we were finally ready to get high into the mountains, but we had about 45 minutes to kill before our next train back to Interlaken. We decided to explore Thun's lakefront parks, and on the way there we had to shoot (with a camera) everything in sight in the picturesque city center. Slackers that we are, we missed our train, and got to spend an extra hour exploring the scenic wonders of Thun. Unfortunately, that was the hour we'd planned to spend hiking in the high country later in the day.

Looking down the river from Thun, the Jungfrau region beckons on the horizon.

A view of central Thun, with the castle's clock tower rising from the middle.

This creatively designed riverboat was docked in Thun.

Yet another scenic view of Lake Thun from the train window.

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