Wednesday, May 06, 2009

What happened to Interlaken?

When I came to Switzerland in 2005 as a tourist, I thought Interlaken was God's gift to mountain beauty. So needless to say, I always get a little emotional about going back there only to realize the place is a tourist trap full of fake fondue and plastic signage.

Ok, maybe the fondue isn't exactly fake, but it's not exactly the real deal when you have to stare at a room full of Americans and Japanese photographing their every bite while eating it. In fact, the tourist office in Interlaken has definitely zeroed in on their target audience and installed both a Hooter's Restaurant and a Japanese Garden since I was there last. And you have to give them credit, they know how to give back to those who love them.

"This place really terrible," said my Swiss friend Peter, as we gave up our search for a quaint lunch spot and ate at the Coop Restaurant near the train station instead. And trust me, it takes a lot for Peter to eat at a Coop, which he claims is no different than eating in a nursing home.

In any case, the Coop Restaurant was the best Interlaken had to offer in terms of the tourist/local ratio, so we enjoyed our Coop salad and spaghetti accordingly.

For those of you looking for an Interlaken alternative, may I suggest Mürren or Grindelwald, both which are much less offensive when it comes to restaurant signage and general tackiness.


M'dame Jo said...

The area is gorgeous, but I really don't like the town itself. Way too touristy.

The SBB station actually has (or had went I went - maybe the origin of tourist changes on a yearly basis) a Korean speaking counter, which I haven't seen anywhere else in the country.

I'm always amazed how it seems to be famous abroad. I've met several Americans who came to Interlaken and didn't visit anything else in Switzerland.

mrsmac said...

We were just in Grindelwald this past weekend. Lauterbrunnen is smaller and nice as well!

C. said...

Hmmm, thanks for the heads-up, I was thinking about finally going this summer...sounds like Grindelwald is the place to go instead.

Chantal said...

I love Lauterbrunnen too. And the area around Interlaken is great, just avoid the town and stay elsewhere if you want a more authentic Swiss experience.

Jenni said...

Can't think of "Interlocken" without thinking of knickers!

Chantal said...

I know the feeling...

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm surprised and disappointed to read this too. I was in Interlaken once back in the backpacking days, staying at Balmer's Hostel, going ice climbing. I thought it was still this idyllic land, adventure and extreme sports heaven and a place on my list to visit. Perhaps no longer. Thanks for the other recommendations.

Chantal said...

Don't ignore the area, just the town.

Romy said...

Ditto the above, I always point visitors away from Interlaken and towards Thun. So close, so beautiful, and not the least bit touristy. Plus, it's got a castle, it's right on the lake, and it's close to the Beatushöhlen (caves), which are definitely worth a visit.


Chantal said...

I have been meaning to check out Thun. Thanks for the tip.

Nikki said...

I know this post has some age on it, but I just had to comment! I was in Interlaken in July 2005 and have this same photo! I was shocked as well to find Hooters!

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