Courtesy Switzerland Tourism
The Clouds Give Way
That evening, we took a walk through Interlaken to the incline station up to Harder Kulm, where an overlook restaurant sits high above the city. As we reached the site, the sun began to pierce the clouds. The effect was immediate. Everyone began pulling out cameras, pointing to distant landscapes and marveling at how beautiful the country really is.
At dinner, the talk at the table was energized by the emerging sunlight. As the clouds parted, the wine flowed. As the mood lifted, toasts were offered. I rejoiced for our hosts because many of these operators were seeing the Swiss Alps clearly for the first time, and they were astounded.
We finished up the evening in the hotel bar joined by dozens of locals, including two gentlemen who had dogs at their feet. We laughed and sang and drank toasts to our good fortune to be in Switzerland.
To Grindelwald and Sunshine
On our last day together, the sun came out, and the sky was bright. The mountains were resplendent, and the group was buzzing about the day ahead. Upon arrival in Grindelwald, we walked over to the lift to First and rode up to the famous alpine station. We could see zip liners on the First Flyer coming down the mountain toward us, and most of us headed over for a ride of our own.
“No way,” said Camargo to no one in particular.
“It’s going to be scary,” said Alyssa Dion of Globus.
“Then why do it?” answered Camargo.
At lunch on the terrace overlooking the Bernese Alps, I spoke with Camargo about what he would package for his FIT clients.
“I would come here instead of the Jungfraujoch if I could only do one,” he said. “I like the view of the mountains from here. You can see more of the landscape and feel more a part of the surroundings. I would also do a day at Schynige Platte.
“I’d probably have them stay in Grindelwald,” he added. “Maybe I’d take them to Harder Kulm, too. I would also tell my clients there is no real nightlife in this part of Switzerland. They might expect more than there is here.”
We rode scooters down from Bort to Grindelwald. That was a blast. We rode several miles down the twisting road, dodging cars and bicyclists along the way.
At the bottom, I walked over to the lift to Mannlichen to do some hiking. It was still a beautiful day, and I wanted some time alone in the mountains. Mannlichen was in heavy snow, and I couldn’t do the trail I had in mind, so I jumped off one stop lower at Holenstein and took a two-hour walk down the mountain to Grindelwald.
I was in the shadow of the Eiger the entire way. It was a beautiful walk. Honestly, this was why I had come. Afterward, I grabbed a late afternoon train to Interlaken and caught up with an excited group at dinner.
“We rode bicycles in Grindelwald out into the countryside,” said April Alison of AFC Vacations in San Diego. “It was absolutely beautiful. Then we got in a hurry because it looked like it might rain. But we got lucky. I wanted to ride the Mannlichenbahn over to Wengen, but the bicycling sounded too good to pass up.”
“I’ve never mountain biked before,” said Dion. “It was so much fun. These were sick bikes. They cost like 2,000 Swiss francs, I think. They were amazing.”
And so, as I listened at dinner to the buzz of excited voices sharing various accounts of the day, the moral of this story occurred to me: If you can only have one day of sun in Switzerland, make sure it’s your last one. That way, maybe it will last forever.