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So yesterday we did a mammoth hike of 25 kilometres around Kleine Scheidegg. Ideally we should rest today but that’s not happening because we have travel plans. We have plans to head towards Bern via Thun.
We have been frantically sending out Couchsurfing requests and if you’ve ever done it before you will know how arduous it is. Tailoring each request for the host you are applying to, only to never get a response let alone confirmation that they are not available. As a matter of fact we’d rather get a message saying “No I can’t be arsed this time”, than be completely ignored.
Anyway, it seems we’ve finally got a place to stay for two nights, but only from tomorrow night. We’ve got nowhere for tonight, so we post a message in an emergency Couchsurfing group for Bern and we get a response! Isabella will happily host us for the night. Her place is not quite in Bern but that’s fine. We can just grab a train or hitchhike tomorrow, it’s not so far. Her place is in Uetendorf, 5KM outside of Thun.
It’s early in the morning and before we head off we want to explore Interlaken and the lakes a little bit. After all, we came to Interlaken but didn’t really see any of it, opting to head for Niesen & Kleine Scheidegg instead. We decide to walk into town, grab a coffee and then maybe take a walk down the river.
We have read that Interlaken is not so nice and very touristy, however, we found this to just not be true. Sure the high street is busy with lots of bad shops and restaurants, but that is the case wherever you go. As soon as you head off the busy streets and start getting lost you will find lots of beautiful sights. Cute bridges, lovely old houses and buildings and quaint peaceful cafes. We find Ladelokal, a small cafe with an outside area overlooking the canal. We sit and watch the world go by while sorting out our boring finances. Keeping a budget is a lot of work but also really helps!
Maybe in the future we can share our budgeting tips and the spreadsheets and apps we use, if you are interested leave us a comment!
After hanging around in the cafe we walk down by the river and cross over the canal lock. Even that is beautiful with its traditional wooden construction. There also some stepping stones to cross the stream which is always fun.
As the canal joins on to the river, we decide to walk along it, on the way to Lake Brienz. We look on the map and there is a path all the way there. The river is beautiful and peaceful, we are most happy strolling around enjoying the good weather.
The view back to Interlaken is very idyllic. The mountains towering over the church and the huge still river – in summer it must be a lot busier here. Travelling off season has its perks, especially when the weather is as good as this!
Well there’s not much else to say. We found the cutest sheep in the world. Just look at it! The fluffiest fluffer ever.
The path starts to climb and we are slightly frustrated. We had agreed to absolutely no upwards hiking today after all the hiking from the last few days including Niesen & Kleine Scheidegg. It only goes up 50 metres or so but it’s enough to make us groan and consider turning back, but we’re so close to the lake now!
We push on and our efforts are rewarded. Stunning views over the lake Brienz. It’s unnervingly quiet over here. We’re only a few kilometres from Interlaken where hundreds of tourists from all over the world are rushing around and buying tacky souvenirs.
After a short while of walking we unexpectedly arrive at St. Peter’s Church in Ringgenberg. It’s a sort of castle meets fortified church. It’s free to enter and really beautiful. You can clamber up the medieval walls and climb atop the tower which is actually quite terrifying.
From the top of the tower, panoramic views open up to all of Lake Brienz. The brilliant turquoise waters glimmer on this blazing hot autumn day. After enjoying the church we decide to try and find some access to the lake so we can dip our feet but we end up on a quest to find drinks and a toilet promising to return. This ends up being quite complicated and involves waiting in a seemingly open hotel courtyard for twenty minutes for a drink only for no one to serve us and then trying to find the train station to use the toilet which although is only 20 metres from us we have to walk two kilometres to a bridge to cross the track. We get fed up and decide it’s probably time to leave anyway.
Our first experience of Bern is sitting on a roof top bar over the city watching the sun burning in to the night. The snow capped Alps in an infinite line across the horizon. We drink a beer with our new Couchsurfing host Sandro. Bern is already beautiful and we are happy to be here, […]
Another day, another adventure. Yesterday we had a chill day. After running all the way down from the top of Niesen, our legs were completely jelly. We spent the whole day lazing around, waddling like penguins to the toilet and planning today. Well, Caroline did most of the planning. She has selected a hike starting […]
After a very short introduction we are packing our bags and leaving St. Gallen for Filisur via Chur. As always, we wish we had more time but that seems to happen with every place we visit. St. Gallen was unexpectedly beautiful. We were not prepared for it since we only came so Caroline could visit […]
After a short morning explore of Lucerne, it’s time to leave. We’re heading to Interlaken, one of the most famous destinations in Switzerland. It’s nestled in the mountains between two huge gorgeous lakes and we are super excited! In particular we are looking forward to riding on the Niesenbahn funicular. This ride should be a […]
We head back to the campsite and pack away our now dry tent. Even when it doesn’t rain the tent still seems to be soaking in the morning. In order to get to Thun we decide to take the local bus number 21 which rides around the north edge of Lake Thun and goes all the way to Thun. We can ride on the bus for free for a few stops but we will just stay on and hope no one notices. It works fine and we end up Thun where we walk to the train station and chuck our bags in to storage so we can waltz around carefree for a few hours.
It turns out Thun is super gorgeous. Just like Chur, St. Gallen and Lucerne. Built around the converge of the river Aare and Lake Thun, it is a small fairy-tale town. There is a castle perched above the town directly on the river and the opposite direction mountains flank the shores of the huge lake.
We head in the direction of the castle where we get manipulated by the sight of ice cream. The most expensive, smallest and shittiest ice cream we ever ate. Every lick was a disappointment. It almost ruined the day.
At some point when we get over the ice cream fiasco we decide to climb up to the castle where we lay and rest in the grassy gardens in front of it. Rising high above the city we enjoy the view and waste an hour of the day soaking up the sun.
We’ve got a few more hours to kill before we can go to our Couchsurfing host’s place, so we decide to take another stroll to a different lake. Much like in Interlaken walking down the river to the lake is very beautiful. It is however a lot busier here. We make it to the lake and we get straight in. Paddling galore. Good times. Our paddling spot can be found here.
The walk back to Thun is even more beautiful, the whole town stacked on top of the river with the fairy tale like castle perched on top. I spend a while trying to get a good photo, trying to avoid all the people on the path. I lean over the fence towards the river, balancing on one foot. The composition is good, but then I hear a plonk in the river. I look down and see my sunglasses gracefully sinking to the bottom of the river. Goodbye sunglasses, we had a good run.
This is the start of a bad streak of losing things. First our camping cooking coffee filter in St. Gallen, then our carefully crafted hitchhiking sign in Interlaken and now my sunglasses. It probably won’t be the last.
The time comes for us to get to our Couchsurfing host’s house. Isabella lives in Uetendorf so we make our way to the train station. It’s just a few stops on a commuter train so shouldn’t cost much money. We arrive in the train station to some post-apocalyptic scene. The metal shutters on the front of the shops are being closed, police everywhere, groups of men running around and shouting. Aggression and testosterone fill the station. What is happening? Of course it’s a football match! What else could it be?! We find our platform and try to ignore the horrible atmosphere.
We arrive in Uetendorf 10 minutes later and disembark into the country side. Isabella’s place is a 5 minute walk through a tiny little village and her place is an old converted farm house. She greets us beaming at the door, the huge heavy oak door creaking open.
We can’t believe our luck when she shows us around. Her place is absolutely massive, we have a whole room for ourselves and a huge comfortable bed. The room is decorated with beautiful antique furniture. Next is the bathroom, again we have our own and it’s the most high tech bathroom we ever saw. It has a bath/jacuzzi which talks to you and cleans itself. Cool and at the same time slightly unnerving.
Next Isabella shows us to the kitchen with a huge traditional farm style cooking hob, more ovens than residents and loads of fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden.
The best is saved for last though. Isabella has two beautiful chubby little cats who are terribly friendly (we spent most of our time here petting them) named Katze & Katze. Cat and Cat for the non-German speakers! We can’t tell which one is which but Isabella certainly can.
We’ve had such great experiences couchsurfing so far: Innsbruck, Salzburg & St. Gallen.
We spend the evening sat around the huge old oak table chatting and exchanging travel adventures. Isabella has been all around the world and loves to give back and host Couchsurfers when she can. We cook some pasta using all her delicious ingredients and have a few drinks before scuttling off to bed.
Later we realise that our lovely host is actually part of a royal family. Their castle is in Carinthia, right where Caroline is from! Isabella would have never told us that herself though – She’s definitely not the braggy type.
You can read about Isabella’s family here on Wikipedia!
She also doesn’t act like a royal, proven by the fact we wake up to her slinging an axe in the garden chopping wood. We spend the rest of the day doing not too much, hanging around the table and playing with Katze and Katze. At the point where we decide we need to get to Bern to our next Couchsurfing destination, Isabella insists that she will drive us. She really is one of the kindest and most caring hosts we’ve ever met. Truly a delight to stay with. Isabella happily drives us to Bern and drops us off where we meet our next host, Sandro.
The train from Interlaken to Thun takes about half an hour. Bus number 21 also goes there but takes about an hour. Bern is 18 minutes away by train.
There’s a campsite directly on the lake. We can’t vouch for it because we haven’t stayed there but it looks quite nice! Otherwise check out booking.com.
Couchsurfing in Switzerland is great for various reasons – It’s an expensive country, and Swiss people are some of the friendliest we’ve ever met. Don’t limit yourself to the main locations like Interlaken etc but also consider the surrounding smaller villages. You’ll be able to get everywhere by public transport in no time and there’s plenty of hosts with big houses and big hearts!