On the way back from Jungfraujoch, we decided to pass by Grindelwald and head straight to Interlaken instead to see the two lakes, Brienz and Thun.
Interlaken is known for being located on the Bödeli - a thin strip land between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, and alongside the Aare river that flows between the two lakes. And Interlaken for me will the place I will remember for having encountered a subtle, an unsaid, unstated behaviour with visible undertones of racism that some Europeans still practice.
While getting on to the train at Grindelwald, we got a bit confused with the signages and asked a couple inside if the train was indeed headed to Interlaken. The lady responded with a stare, a terse "Oui" and looked the other way.
"Who gives a shit to this kind of attitude", we thought and moved on.
The scenery down the railway tracks was incredible. The skies had cleared up and it was quite bright and sunny. The bright yellow sun rays against the blue sky and the green Alpine meadows made for beautiful, postcard perfect views.
There was a group of Chinese on board and two girls from the group went and sat next to that European couple, whom I will now call the Oui Couple! The view from that seat was much better, probably that's what made them sit there.
The body language of the Oui Couple was incredibly rude in their body language and their faces had disgust and contempt written all over it. (I grabbed the Chinese girls and the Oui Couple in my pics!)
The Chinese were made so uncomfortable by the glares the Oui Couple gave them that they were forced to shift seats. This was really disgusting.
At Interlaken Ost, we got off the train and hoped to visit a chocolate factory, do a boat ride on one of the two lakes and after that visit Harder Kulm, a hill that gives a panoramic view of the city and the two lakes. Before heading there, we decided to stop by at a small take-away at the exit of Interlaken Ost for a cold drink - it was very warm and sunny.
There seemed to be no one manning the counter. After couple of "excuse mes" a young blonde came out huffing and puffing "I have only two hands you see. I am doing the dishes now!"
How rude can one get? Neither were we disrespectful nor were we expecting something which was extraordinary. But she took our order and we got our water and Coke.
In sometime, some more people came, whites and Asians. I could notice the distinct difference in attitude in they she dealt with the Europeans and the rest.
In sometime we figured out that the boat ferry starts from the point where we were at the moment. I discovered a timetable on display that spoke of the last train operating in about 30 minutes.
I asked the blonde about where we could get the ferry tickets but she was again rude and gruff! I knew blondes could be dumb, but rude? That was indeed a revelation.
An elderly couple who were enjoying their afternoon gelato noticed the shameful behaviour that the rude blonde had displayed and they came to us and smiled. The man in broken English said the frequencies of the ferry had been reduced and no further ferry rounds would happen for the rest of the evening. Instead he suggested that we either walk down to Lake Brienz 20 minutes away or take the funicular rail up to Harder Kulm to get a panoramic view of the Interlaken region.
We thanked the couple from the bottom of our hearts. And as we walked away, we thanked God for all the good souls who still survive on earth, like this elderly couple, for it is because of them that humanity still exists. And probably we would think of Switzerland because of noble souls like them.
Given the time constraints we decided to give the lake cruise a pass and instead proceeded to Harder Klum.
As we waited for the train to roll in, it felt as though we were in Hong Kong, waiting for the Peak Tram to roll in - there were so many Chinese present. Switzerland now has huge numbers of Chinese tourists who come in every year and the numbers are growing with each passing year as China's might increases. A good indicator of this is even in remote places like Grindelwald, Chinese signboards are ubiquitous. Indeed the Chinese have exceedingly done well for themselves - you can't take away this credit from them.
The views from the Harder Kulm were awesome and beautiful, an elevation of just about 700 metres leads to such a different perspective!
The Swiss national flag - the white cross fluttering in the breeze!
The Briezersee - the Brienz Lake...
The Aare River and the Thunersee - Lake Thun
Bergrestaurant at Harder Kulm...
The viewing deck at Harder Kulm...
Appears Interlaken is popular for sky-diving...
And there comes our food - pork schnitzel...
...And chicken burger!
Just as we sat down to have an early dinner, the Oui Couple walked in. Oh no, not again! They scanned the place for Browns and Yellows (read: Indians and Chinese) - fortunately there were no blacks around! The Oui Couple chose a place far away from the 3 Indian families and the 5 Chinese families around (one particular Chinese family was particularly adorable - a teenaged girl ordered fondue and it was obvious that her parents were having it for the first time!).
Seriously this was the first time I had encountered such kind of behaviour up, close and personal. I have heard people talk about it, ignore it..., whatever, those silent undertones of disgust were not vaguely perceptible, they were in the face!
One last look before we head back to Interlaken Ost...
Back down at the funicular rail station, we walked along the Aare River to Interlaken Ost...
Shalimar - an Indian restaurant on the Höheweg...
Finally at Interlaken Ost...
Our ride back to Grindelwald rolls in!
With Harder Kulm ticked off we headed back to Grindelwald to rest in for hopefully an exciting day that lies ahead tomorrow!