I’ve so far found that travelling while living abroad can only go two ways: excessive planning, or excessive improvisation. This was the latter. On Thursday, I found out a few of my new friends in Geneva were going to Interlaken. On Saturday, I tagged along.
The friends who planned ahead of time drove, but my roommate James and I were late to the planning, so we took a 2.5 hr train leaving at 7 am and returned at 2:30 am. Once we got to Interlaken, my friend and I had to immediately hop on another train to where our group was planning to hike, a town called Grindelwald at the base of a mountain named Männlichen. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation, or our general lack of preparation/attention, but the train we boarded didn’t take us to Grindelwald. Instead, we arrived at Lauterbrunnen, another small town on the opposite side of Männlichen.
Improvisation! James and I decided to go with the flow, so we called our other friends and told them we screwed up and that we’d meet them at the top. Lauterbrunnen was the definition of quaint, nestled in a small valley in the Alps with a tall and skinny waterfall overlooking the city. After the childlike wonder wore off, we found the information office for tourists and got the direction on how to hike to the top of Männlichen. The lady said it'd take 3 hours. Sounds reasonable. It took 4 1/2.
The hike up was choatic. For the first 1 1/2 hours there was a downhill bike race on the path we were walking up, so we constantly had to listen for the oncoming sound of bike tires and squeeling breaks.
We then reached Wengen, a small town supposedly halfway up the mountain. Just after Wengen, we reached a sign telling us that a portion of the trail was out of order... but didn't tell us how to get around it. So we stood there confused for a while, until an old Swiss gave us directions for the detour.
We followed the directions, or we thought we did. Because we got lost. For about 20 minutes, we wondered some trails in the hope that it would take us back to the main trail up the mountain. I was just ready to turn back when James insisted we go forward for 2 more minutes, and that's when we found the trail again. The rest of the hike was straightforward... and straight upwards. We told each other that we were stopping to take pictures when in reality we were stopping because we were exhausted.
Reaching the top, though, was an incredibly satisfying feeling. There's a viewing platform that looks like a royal crown, from where you can actually see one of the lakes of Interlaken in between the soaring Alps. The trip down the other side of the mountain is a whole other story though.
Part two - down the mountain - Click here