Interlaken means "between the lakes" in German. The two lakes in question are Thun and Brienz. They are connected by the river Aare. (Sherlock Holmes fans will be interested to know that the Reichenbach Falls are nearby. Unfortunately the falls are not accessible in the winter.)

There are several ski resorts in the area, so Bob & Margaret decided to house us centrally in Interlaken itself. We stayed in the Hotel InterLaken. The original guest house was established in the 14th century. It was renovated in in the 15th century and has been used as a hotel ever since.

Some of the rooms were named after famous people who had stayed there, such as Lord Byron & Felix Mendelssohn.

Our room was on the back side of the hotel; I don't recall if it had ever been occupied by anyone famous or not.


Grindelwald was located at the base of several of the ski areas. I wish I could somehow indicate here the lilting way that the name was pronounced in the local Switzerdeutsch dialect.

At one point of our trip I ran out of dental floss. My German dictionary had no equivalent, so I composed a little speech about how I had to clean my teeth and headed down to the local pharmacy. The young woman patiently heard my plea and immediately responded: "Waxed or unwaxed." Just about every Swiss we met spoke English.

The German for dental floss, by the way, is Zahnseide. It translates as tooth silk. If I asked what the German was for "waxed," I don't remember the response.

Snow sculptures

We were visiting the week of the World Snow Festival. It has been held annually for many years and draws artists from all over the world to produce snow sculptures.

I think that the lack of snow the year we visited meant that the sculptures were somewhat less elaborate than usual.

Lutschine River

One day I was battling a cold and couldn't ski, so I rode the rails and hiked along the valley from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg. The path led along the Weisse Lütschine River. The Schwartze Lütschine joins up with it at the aptly named village of Zweilütschine (Two Lütschines). Nowadays the river (after the junction) is a whitewater destination.


The valley was a narrow rift between these massive cliffs. Every now and again there would be a CRACK! and I could see a rock loosened by freeze-thaw cycles crashing down. I did not attempt to get too close to those rock faces.


These logs that have been cut into boards and left to cure have a sculptural quality.


I don't know if this is a storage shed for something or a fancy way to keep cordwood.

We noticed that the Swiss were meticulous in maintaining their forests. When we passed through the woods on our trains there would be stacks of wood along the track that had been salvaged from downed trees. Over the next day or two the stacks would disappear, presumably collected by some train or the other. Perhaps they ended up like this.

Interlaken hydro plant

One day we had to do some laundry. There was no self-service laundromat, but there was a laundry where the proprietor would wash and fold clothes for a modest fee. We were startled that she charged separately for the "spin cycle." In fact she had a special piece of equipment, a centrifuge, that she loaded with wet laundry and turned on. It spun vertically and had a tendency to walk along the floor unless she sat on it to stabilize it.

After leaving our laundry with her we walked around Interlaken. These sluice gates were built in the 19th century to control the flow of the River Aare between the two lakes. It marks the border between Interlaken and neighboring Unterseen.

Unterseen Town Hall

The Unterseen town square is highlighted by the town hall. We were fascinated that the town was in the process of getting LAN connections put in all the buildings. Remember that this was 1988! Local Area Networks were cutting-edge technology at the time.

The Interlaken and Unterseen villages began to develop side-by-side in 1279. (Both names mean "between the lakes.") There was a large stone gate between them with the date carved above the arch. I don't recall if the gate actually dated from that time or not.

Street Fair

There was a street fair in progress in Interlaken on the day we were exploring. I found this little burro quite charming.

I have some chairs identical to the ones shown here. They are still quite useful from time to time.

After a delightful week in Interlaken, we packed up and clambered on our bus for the trip to Saas Fee. Return to the overview page and continue with us.

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