Into the Swiss Alps: Interlaken & Thun

From Emmental we headed south to our next stop at the busy resort of Interlaken, between the two lakes of Thunersee and Brienzersee.

We hoped to see the mountains and a classic Swiss lake. Interlaken offers both. Our campsite was well located on the shores of the Thunersee, but very noisy with the world’s most seemingly inconsequential road works happening alongside it every day from 6.30am.

Regrettably we were parked right by the hedge so had to contend with the noise and clouds of billowing dust as well as choking fumes from the heavy plant machinery. Not the sublime lakeside experience we had imagined!

Early morning light across Thunersee
Despite being pushed at the tourist office to take the train to see Thun (pronounced Toon) we opted for the bus instead, which with our half fare pass, made us a saving of 51francs or £36, such is the wild pricing of the popular transport routes.

The bus route, we knew hugged the lakeside road on our side, whilst the train line went overland and through tunnels on the other side offering no views of the glistening water. It took an hour to reach the town but it was enjoyable meandering along the shoreline seeing weekenders take to the waters in sail boats and rowing boats.

Surfing on the River Aare
Thun itself has a lovely setting at the head of the lake in the foothills of the Bernese Alps. It is spread on both sides of the river Aare and across an island in the middle which we reached by a covered wooden bridge and walkway.

There are two of these bridges which as well as providing access to the island, also act as damns which regulate the flow of the river through the town. The fast gushing waters were being surfed and rafted on by local youngsters so we joined the passers-by cheering them on.

Old Thun
The old town curves along the river banks and up to a pretty Schloss. We meandered around the streets which, like Bern, had arcaded shops at street level, but you could walk up above them through flower-filled terraces and past the front doors of people’s homes.

A jazz band was playing at a restaurant and we loitered on a bridge to listen. It was chilly so we found a coffee to stroll with and were given a biscuit each by a local tourist officer thanking us for our visit. It was sweet really!

Oberhofen Castle on Thunersee
Jumping off the return bus at Oberhofen we admired the turreted and story-book castle that spills across the shore.

A corporate event appeared in full swing and the garden gates were open so we chanced our luck and wandered through the grounds, and the extensive herb garden which yielded a cheeky crop of rosemary and thyme for Bertha’s larder!

A network of paths took us along the lake shore to the end of the castle grounds and out into the public gardens. It was noticeably warmer here than at Thun and the crystal clear lake waters dazzled under blue skies. People were strolling and smiling as we headed to the nearest bus stop.

A fine view from the bus stop!

Back at camp we made plans for an adventure in the Alps the next day. It was mindboggling trying to work out the best route, package and price for our budget.

We had a stack of pamphlets and brochures but what made it so confusing was that everyone was selling you the same thing, but differently.  We made a decision and hoped for clear skies in the morning…