If It's Thursday, This Must Be Interlaken...

Snowy mountains, trains that run on time, chocolate and rosti - yep, must be Switzerland...

Posted: 26 August 2010
by Jon
Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau - closer look coming your way tomorrow.

Swiss loos rock – you know those automatic taps, the ones that magically sense your presence? The ones that only work 50% of the time in Britain leaving you with a palm-full of noxious liquid soap? In Switzerland they work. Always. Flawlessly - after a day or two you stop checking the taps first and simply soap up, fully confident that the water will emerge as scheduled.

And that's Switzerland for you. Things do exacty what they're supposed to – the trains arrive on time and leave on time and, Richard Branson take note, don't stop randomly in the middle of nowhere leaving punctuality beaten and bleeding by the side of the tracks. And that's just the start of it. Pretty much everywhere in Switzerland is accessible by public transport – bus, train or post bus, they all run efficiently and regularly. And the roads, wow...

So why am I sitting on a train en route to Interlaken telling you this? Well, according to the nice people at Swiss Tourism who've been plying 140 journalists from all over the world with chocolate, alcohol, ridiculously lavish buffets, opera and sleep deprivation – keeps those pesky journos quiet and pliable – walkers everywhere need to know that Swiss infrastructure rocks.

So not only does Switzerland boast amazing alpine hiking and climbing, but you can get to it easily. And they say, it's no longer so fearsomely expensive that you need to take out a second mortgage just to buy a cup of coffee. Not that I'd know about that, I haven't bought so much as a bottle of water since I got here two days ago.

The quality of the walking you'll have to take on trust for now because, so far, I haven't actually done any. I've gazed out at blankets of cloud from a goat shit-strewn viewpoint reached by rack and pinion mountain railway and conversely, gazed up at the same viewpoint through blankets of cloud from the ground, but mostly I've just been indoctrinated gently by the charming folk from Swiss Tourism, two bearded chaps pushing a polysteyrene boulder across Switzerland, a champion somelier singing the praises of the wines of Ticino, where we've been based, and subiminally by a top-level opera singer and pianist.

Did you know that El Solo Mio translates literally as: 'Swiss hiking is ace!'

Anyway, the battery on the much-abused editorial Macbook is on the verge of early and painful death, the nice man from Swiss Tourism is suggesting glacier hikes from the Jungfraujoch and I'm gazing out of the train window at stupendous alpine scenery which I'd rather be walking or climbing through.

New mountains, new views and the promise of a walk below the North Face of the Eiger in the sunshine to come – it's on the free Swisshike iPhone app as well – the world looks bright and shiny. More Swiss pics coming soon.

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A nice view up the Lauterbrunnen valley to the Jungfrau, Did it in 1995 - straight up the front as in the view - Inner Rottelgrat - fab route! My - how those glaciers are shrinking back!

Posted: 30/08/2010 at 16:33

Stayed in Interlaken a few times with great walking in the Jungfrau Region. I'll have to go back. Transport as the article says is very good. Watch the folks (probably Brits) who are used to trains leaving late, arriving at the station as the train pulls out dead on time.



Posted: 30/08/2010 at 17:09

"And they say, it's no longer so fearsomely expensive that you need to take out a second mortgage just to buy a cup of coffee."

Really? I wasn't convinced, passing through Geneva earlier in the summer. I think they might be comparing the Swiss Franc with the Euro, rather than good ol' Poonds Sterling...

Posted: 30/08/2010 at 17:51

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