Connie, my cousin Patrik’s wife, had very generously offered us her car to drive from Besenbüren to the narrow stretch of valley that is Interlaken. Her offer meant that we would save a tonne of money by not travelling by train, a form of transport which although is of an exceptional standard in Switzerland, is also staggeringly expensive. We accepted Connie’s kind offer and after a short demonstration got on our way.
I had driven a left-hand drive in Montenegro so it didn’t take me long to adjust, although I would often find myself drifting to the right. Luckily my trusty co-pilot Anita would bring it to my attention and I would correct myself quickly before running into any kind of trouble. After an hour and a half of driving we had finally arrived in my mum’s hometown of Interlaken. We were welcomed with the warm smiles and open arms of my aunt Claudia and cousin Efrem, and invited into the house which has been in the family for a very long time, and amazingly dates back to 1596.
We spent some time catching up before I decided to give Anita a quick tour of the area, granting Efrem the kitchen to prepare a welcome dinner for us all. We walked the backstreets of Unterseen down to the centre of Interlaken, a place which actually seemed a little unfamiliar since I last visited. The town had always felt quite commercialised as a result of years of tourism, but I felt this now more than ever. In any case, the town was still very beautiful, especially with the 4,158m Jungfrau mountain towering in the background like a watchful parent.
We eventually returned back to the house and to the sweet smell of roasting pork, garlic onion green beans, and buttery mashed potato. Efrem had cooked an absolute feast and not without forgetting his famous white, milk and dark chocolate Toblerone mousses for dessert. Anita and I loosened the top button of our pants and proceeded to inhale our dinner, laughing with Efrem and Claudia long into the evening.
After our final bites of dessert, we walked with Claudia across to Restaurant Bären, an old family friends’ restaurant to say hello to everyone inside. Monica, one of mum’s oldest friends, had the night off but husband Hanspeter and daughter Danielle were there for us to say hello. Danielle told us that they had something special planned for Anita and I the next day, and to meet them at the restaurant at 7:30am sharp. With that being said, we said good night and walked back to the house to rest up for the next morning’s early rise.
The next morning we were picked up by Monica and Danielle with friend Kim, and taken to our now not-so-surprise location: the Schilthorn. I had never been up the Schilthorn, and Anita had never seen snow, so this was a very exciting experience for us both. We took cable car after cable car, up further and further, finally reaching the top of the 2,970m mountain. The views were absolutely breathtaking, and combined with the news that we’d also be enjoying a buffet brunch at the revolving restaurant, was almost too much to handle. After numerous plates of brekky and an obligatory glass of prosecco, we headed downstairs to the James Bond museum.
The Schilthorn was actually the setting for the 1969 James Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and so also acts as a type of Bond-themed fan centre for visitors. There’s also a James Bond museum downstairs full of everything 007 – it was actually pretty cool. After having some fun inside we headed outside to check out the snow and also the thrill walk, another of the Schilthorn’s popular attractions. We walked along the cliff face, over glass paths, along a thin wire, and through steel mesh tunnels, all hanging hundreds of metres above the ground.
After our death-defying thrill walk, we decided to slow things down a bit and take a scenic walk down through the mountains via Mürren, a traditional Walser mountain village. We weaved our way further and further down the track, finally arriving at our cable car back to the railway. We returned to Interlaken and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing while I secretly finalised the details of the surprise 26th birthday dinner I had organised for Anita.
I had spoken to Danielle a few weeks earlier and booked a table at Restaurant Büren. There Danielle had organised for us a special birthday table setting – white table cloth and birthday confetti included. Anita was completely surprised when we arrived as she thought we were only going there to say thank you and goodbye to everyone, so it all came together perfectly.
We had such an amazing dinner. Anita ordered the pork, while I couldn’t help but order the horse after first trying it in Besenbüren. Everything was so unbelievably flavoursome and cooked to perfection, and I just couldn’t get enough of Hanspeter’s mustard potatoes. Just when Anita thought her day and night couldn’t get any more special, the lights dimmed, a dessert with sparklers came out, and the entire restaurant started to sing happy birthday. I could tell Anita felt a little embarressed, but also very spoilt. The night was perfect and I owe it all to the help of Danielle, Monica and Hanspeter.
It was our last night in Interlaken and just as we were organising ourselves for the drive back to Besenbüren, Patrik messaged suggesting that we take Connie’s car on to Celerina. This again would save us a tonne of money on train tickets, so we accepted their very kind offer and emailed my uncle Guge letting him know that we would be joining him in Celerina. The next morning we said our goodbyes, packed the car, scraped the ice off the windscreen and hit the road to Celerina, where we planned to spend the next three nights in the lead up to New Years Eve.
Thank you to Claudia and Efrem for hosting us and for the wonderful dinner – we’ll be back for some more of that mousse! And a massive thank you to the Amarcher family for making our time in Interlaken so very special.