Free Day in InterlakenOctober 23, 2018 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C
I can think of three things that Switzerland is famous for - watches, chocolates and army knives. On my free day in Interlaken I did not have to go very far to find all three. In fact the main street is populated with a whole series of shops selling Swiss watches. I decided to have a look in some of their windows in case I could grab a bargain.
Even the very cheapest watch I could find was far too expensive for an Aussie battler like me. Some of them cost more than a luxury car. It was quickly evident that the main purchasers of these overpriced status symbols were the Chinese tourists. In shop after shop I could see whole clusters of cashed up Chinese, gathered at the counters and excitedly buying some of the most expensive watches on the planet.
I continued down the main street and entered a likely looking chocolate shop. When I looked at the prices they were charging, I soon decided that I would have to forego any hankering I had for those lovely little indulgences as well. I didn't even bother going into the Swiss army knife shop as they had a display outside which indicated that their products weren't intended for cash strapped Australian tourists.
In fact ever since we entered Switzerland about a week ago, Allan and I have been shocked at just how expensive everything is here. It is not just the watches, knives and chocolates that cost a king's ransom, it is literally everything. It is bad enough seeing the prices in Swiss Francs, but when you multiply by 1.5 times to convert to Australian dollars, it is enough to make you feel weak at the knees. Switzerland is certainly a lovely country, but if you want to spend some considerable time here, you had better have been born with a silver spoon in your mouth.
I decided to spend my final rest day doing what I most enjoy - exploring and people watching. At least that wouldn't cost anything, and it was meant meant to be a free day, not an expensive day after all.
At first I set out in the direction of the centre of Interlaken, but took a detour through some of the back streets, rather than follow the main street. Once again the weather was fine and sunny, but not as clear as we had enjoyed yesterday.
I soon found myself in a large park area which had become the main landing area for the continuous procession o f hang gliders that were launching from one of the nearby mountainsides. As I got closer I could see that every glider actually had two people on it. It was obviously a very lucrative industry and virtually every single paying passenger was a young Chinese or Japanese female. I suppose I should not have been surprised that every hang glider was also equipped with a huge selfie stick to attach your camera to. I am not kidding.
When each paying passenger landed, the routine was the same - do a "high five" with the pilot, take off the harness, then retrieve the camera. And how much was each passenger paying for about 10 minutes of flight time ? The cost that most companies were charging was about 180 Francs per flight (about $270 AUD). I wondered how many flights they could fit in each day and did some quick mental calculations. It is little wonder that there were so many in the air at the same time, it was like a license to print money.
Later in the day I met up with Allan and we walked about some of the older part of town. We happened to stumble upon some sort of cattle judging event in the old city square. Allan commented on how large the cows were. I commented on how much manure each one could produce. There will certainly be some serious cleaning up required before the square will be ready for public use again.
The sun continued to shine strongly as we slowly continued our walk. I decided to check the GPS to see how far I had walked during the day. The answer was almost 12km. I have lost track of the cumulative distance I have walked over the past 6 weeks,but I suspect that I could probably have walked half way to Europe from Australia by now.
In the evening we went for dinner at a lovely little kiosk near the station. The food was delicious and reasonably priced, so we couldn't understand why there were so few people there. When I was curious about the unusual accent that the young waitress had, she explained that she had moved to Switzerland from Prague. She also told us that the weather was about to deteriorate in a few day's time and that rain and snow was predicted. This was another reminder of just how lucky we have been with our timing.
Tomorrow we say goodbye to Interlaken and take a series of trains to Zermatt. This town is most famous for being near to what is perhaps Switzerland's most famous mountain - the Matterhorn.Read more