Interlaken – blue skies, mountain peaks, and gnome murals

My first city post from our trip! Stay tuned for more.

We flew into Zurich and then trained down to Interlaken, which, as the name suggests, is between two lakes. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, ringed by jagged mountains and populated with quaint houses sporting windowboxes full of geraniums.

We had reservations at the Funny Farm Hostel (yes, really). Neither one of us is picky – we wanted a bed and a bathroom. So even though we knew this was not going to be a five star hotel, we didn’t care.

And we were right – it wasn’t a five star hotel, but it was fine: a bed, on suite bathroom, and a beautiful view of the Jungfrau:

Ben in front of the freakishly spectacular view. Making a freakish face.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to stay in the hotel the first night. That picture above is from night #2.

When we first arrived the receptionist told us that they had overbooked the hotel, and asked if we wouldn’t mind staying in the guest house. For free! Travelers love the words “free,” especially travelers who know they’re going to be saving about $150. So we said, sure, even though we weren’t going to get the private bathroom. Fine, no problem.

We rolled our suitcases out back down a short gravel drive and arrived at the guest house.

It had holes in the walls. The bathroom was not accessible from the inside of the building; you had to go outside to get to it.

The room itself…

Ironically, WordPress suggested I write "The Mona Lisa" as an example of alternate photo text. Hahaha.

Grumpy Sarah is grumpy.

…came with its own original artwork. (That’s a snowboarding gnome, just so you know.) The bed was two metal bunkbeds pushed together, complete with holes in the sheets. One of the blankets had obviously been used as a paint dropcloth at one time, and there were footprints on the walls.

But we sucked it up and decided to try to sleep. And we did, until other people arrived in the hotel. We could hear EVERYTHING. Every step every single person took. Up the stairs, down the stairs, opening and closing doors, dragging luggage. And don’t forget, the bathroom access was outside, so every time anyone had to pee, we got to hear them rumble down the stairs, then rumble back up like a herd of fat elephants.

Oh, check that. We did have a bathroom on our floor. See below:

Complete with an old computer bag as a doorstop. Classy.

The toilet didn’t work and there were no handles on the sink.

Anyway, things could only get better from here. And guess what? They did! The next day, they transferred us back to the hotel and gave us a corner upper-level room with that fantastic view. Below are some night shots from our window:

Not too shabby. The next day we took the train to Grindelwald, a tiny town on the shoulder of Schwartzhorn and Jungfrau. We discovered that there’s not actually a ton to do there, since it’s mostly a hub for outdoor activities (cable cars up into the mountains, hikes, etc.). So note: if you visit this area of Switzerland, bring your hiking boots. It’s an outdoorsy person’s paradise.

Now, usually I’m up for a hike, but we were jet lagging pretty badly so we ended up just walking around and eating (no complaints here). We had lunch in a quirky little cafe and listened to people speaking English, German, and French.

Local beer. So welcome at this point.

My sandwich came with a smiley face on it. Just compensation for the horrors of the previous night? Truthfully: almost.

From there, we just wandered around. Some pictures from our wanderings:

Kudos to Ben for a pretty shot. Kudos to Jesus for, you know, making the mountain.

Note the cemetery in the foreground: every plot carefully planted with beautiful flowers.

Lovely lovely.

Back in Interlaken, we stood across from the main park and watched the parasailors flying in and landing.

Parasailors landing in the middle of Interlaken's central park.

The two spires in the background are the Catholic and Protestant churches, and when they rang together, they always seemed to be having a friendly argument. Not unlike me and my Catholic friends.

A few more shots:

Definitely not our hotel.

Pretty street.

All told, we had a lovely time. Do I regret that first night? Nope. First of all, it’s a fantastic story, and second, it was an adventurous way to start our adventure.

Next stop: Roma! Stay tuned…

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