To start, I’d like to say that I love Switzerland more than any country I’ve been in. If there was one country I would choose to stay in the rest of my life, it would be this one. To see why I think this way, check out my pictures from the City of Thun and Interlaken, and my Bern photos as well.
I’m now staying in Thun, a city west of Interlaken (the playground of Europe) which is also close to Bern, and also close to every other Swiss city due to the fact that Switzerland just isn’t a very large country. Switzerland is twice the size of New Jersey. Maps of Switzerland are larger than some towns.
All jokes aside, it’s a remarkable land of trees and white-capped mountains, Caribbean-blue lakes and streams, and it also contains the nicest people I’ve met so far. Greets on the street, Gutentags on the bus from strangers, and it also helps that everyone speaks my native tongue.
Thune is a typical Swiss citytown that lacks the tourist-hungry feeling of Interlaken. It’s something else. A mix between Aspen and Santa Cruz, Tahoe and Santa Barbara… but a tenth the size of any of those cities.
Out of Interlaken, 50 minutes west of Thune, I took the steep trains, funiculars, buses and hiked a little bit to the town of Gimmelwald through snow and gale. Gimelwald is a wood cabin town perched on the Swiss alps at 4,485 feet loaded with woodsy alpine goodness and a couple mountain horses who don’t mind the cold. I saw a total of three people in the town, but the books say there’s a population of 140 when everyone isn’t out skiing. [Here’s a map of the Area.] It seems there are certain building and development codes in the cutesy town of Gimmelwald (a good thing) that keeps it a Swiss Gem and a tourist attraction. To get a bite to eat I had to hike up the trail to M?ºrren where a more modern woodsy Swiss apartment style dominates. Though there are a few hostels in Gimmelwald, there’s supermarkets and hotels and many restaurants (and even a ‘disco inferno’ dance club). The trail was uphill and I saw several familes and some solo sledders came sliding past.
On another trip on the Bernese Oberland railway, I went a little higher to Kleine Scheidegg at the base of two of the most massive mountains in the Swiss alps: Eiger and Jungfrau. I took the steep trains up with hundreds of skiiers and snowboarders who cruise down the 5km slopes back down to Grindelwald–not to be confused with Gimmelwald–and wished I had at least something to slide down on. No sled no nothing. So I went on a little trip and found this plank and took it to a very steep slope and hopped on. As it turns out, the rough grains of the wood attach to snow which all holds on to itself and doesn’t move an inch.
Seeing all this good natural stuff makes me wish I had planned more of it into my trip. Cities can be tiring. I will return someday to see the fjords of Norway and the whatnots of who knows where, but for now I’m homeward bound; I expect to be in the air conditioned Los Angeles air by March 14th.