Interlaken; Friday, 01 August, 2008

I quickly stowed my luggage in a locker at the station, as the hotel wouldn’t be starting checkin for a couple of hours I decided it would be a good time to head into the mountains.

My first target for the day was Schynige Platte, overlooking the Brienzersee and Interlaken at 1967m. The journey up on the cog-wheel railway is quite slow, taking nearly 50 minutes to complete the assent to the railway station, from which it is a further 20 minutes walk to the very top of the peak and the viewing platform.

In the Alps this is more than enough time for the weather to intervene and turn an OK day into a miserably wet one.

By the time we reached the station it was raining, heavily and with the gusty wind this turned into unpleasant sheets of rain, aided by the cooler temperatures at this height, it wasn’t a nice place to be. So instead of having a wander I got back on the next train down. On arrival at Interlaken I discovered that the rain was following, and was now pouring down in the town. I waited it out for about 45 minutes before it finally started to ease down to a light drizzle, at which point I grabbed my luggage and made a dash for the hotel, getting to just a couple of meters from the door before it picked back up again.

I checked in, and then sheltered in the hotel whilst this band of rain cleared back down and then headed out again, this time to go up to the much closer Harder Kulm, located on the opposite side of the river to Interlaken, it is much lower, and was clearly visible when I was at the bottom. But again, on my way up on the funicular railway the weather closed in and at the station, five minute walk from the peak, the rain was lashing, so I got back on and descended back to Interlaken.

I had to wait 20 minutes at the funicular station for the weather to clear and then wandered, despondently back to the hotel, feeling quite sorry for the Swiss whose national day was quite clearly a wash-out.

Then, about 8pm a strange thing happened. The cloud all evaporated. I know you can get some funny weather phenomenon in mountain areas, but this was really bizarre. In the space of 10 minutes it went from a wall of heavy grey clouds surrounding the town, so that you could only see the very closest mountain wall disappearing into the murk, into a stunning vista of snow-capped mountain peaks, green hillsides, and rock bathed in the warm glow of an Alpine evening sunset.

The festivities for the national day also picked up at this point, so I headed out from the hotel to watch some, and found myself, a little later, standing on the edge of a large field in the city centre, with a half litre of beer, and a bratwurst watching a spectacular fireworks show, aided by the local populace who were also setting their own fireworks off.

Contented, and more importantly dry, but probably stinking of the smoke from fireworks, I headed back to the hotel for some sleep.


Sunny Intervals Heavy Rain
Hot (20-30C, 68-86F)