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We spent a long weekend in Interlaken at the end of August. Without having consulted any official statistics, Interlaken is I think the most visited place in Switzerland. Lucern is a close second. It is situated between two mountain lakes.

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The city is built for tourism. Its name was originally Aarmühle but it was changed in 1891.  Tourism started in the early 1800’s and the place never looked back.

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With increasing rail and boat links, hotels developed along the route to the Jungfrau. In late 1800’s several luxury hotels were built with views of the Jungfrau and surrounding mountains.

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This casino is one of the reasons why this place became popular.

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The main promenade – Höheweg –  links the east and west side of town.  It is lined on one side with hotels – the grandest of which is the Victoria-Jungfrau. The street is really busy – tour buses dropping off hordes of tourists to buy souvenirs and watches, horse-drawn carriages pick up and drop off passengers.

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The Victoria-Jungfrau has a very nice garden/sidewalk cafe. We were very thirsty and glad to find place to rest our feet. The cafe is across from a large open lawn known as the Höhematte.

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This is taken from the other side of the Höhematte – from left to right – the Metropole, the Victoria-Jungfrau.

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As if there is not enough going on in front of the hotel – the hotel provided a girl playing guitar to serenade the patrons. She was singing Bésame Mucho when we sat down.

interlaken-5Along Höheweg, beside hotels, there were jewelers, boutiques, and eateries, including a Hooters !  The waitress were wearing orange uniform, like in the US, and the ambiance appears to be that of a family restaurant.

interlaken-7Paragliding is very popular and relatively cheap compared to everything else in this town. Lots of tandem paragliding. There are cliffs just behind the town for launches. We saw 8-10 of them all up there at the same time.

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Höhematte offers the perfect landing space in the middle of town. The open space even allows several to land more or less one after the other.  It is a huge lawn – you cannot miss it. We did it once in Rio de Janeiro and the paragliders there land on the open beach.

interlaken-11So we spent a half hour sipping ice tea under an umbrella, listening to brazilian songs, and watching the paragliders land in front of the hotel. Nice!

interlaken-12Interlaken is very commercial – crawling with tourists, mostly changing trains heading for the mountains. It serves as the hub for the entire region.

interlaken-13It has two train stations (Ost and West) – the former serving mostly trains that go to Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald – very popular villages half way up the mountain. See later posts. The West station serves the main lines and international trains (German mostly).

interlaken-14Our first day was not suitable to go up to Jungfrau due to cloud coverage. If you look carefully at the picture below, in the middle, you can see Jungfrau.

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More to come … but here is a map to help orientation. Click to enlarge.

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