• Alex Place

ALPINE TYPE | INTERLAKEN, SWITZERLAND

The notion of "expectation vs. reality" is something I have grappled with for my entire life. In the past, any type of YOLO trip to Europe would be flush with expectation and therefore potential disappointment. I needed it to feel worth it. Since moving overseas I've found that expectation is the enemy of spontaneity -- and spontaneity makes for a much better story.


After a slight AirBnB hiccup involving a hot water heater, our host dropped us off at an 'alternate location'. Instead of being in the city of Interlaken, we'd be a few miles away in the town of Wilderswil. Besides having to confront my worst enemy, public transportation, this wasn't a huge problem. There was absolutely no night life to be found, but we were fifty feet from a grocery store with unlimited wine and Swiss chocolate.


As with any past and future ski trips, I'm just along for the ride. While the rest of the crew checked off a bucket list item, I took my camera and blindly went about my day. Wandering around alone is one of my favorite things to do. I like to pretend I'm in a movie. Which movie, exactly, depends on my mood. I've been in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's', 'Gone Girl', and Eat, Pray, Love'. Sometimes I'm in a spy movie, but I can't decide if it's Spy Kids or one of the James Bonds. James Bond would be cooler..


The 'expectation vs. reality' dilemma hit when I went to the tourist office in town. There were a lot of things I wanted to do in Interlaken, but they were either impossible or too expensive. The lakes are drained for winter repairs, so anything water related was not happening. Anything else outdoors was closed for the season, the chocolate classes were full, a spa day was over budget and paragliding was close to $300. Ah, but the show [movie] must go on. I found some modern churches with a modern graveyard. Everything had clean lines and was minimal compared to Gothic and Baroque styles I've gotten used to seeing. The gravestones were sculptural, and I felt like I was walking among happy pieces of art rather than graves. I guess now I'm in the DaVinci Code.


The one thing Interlaken had going on was a large outdoor activity area called "Ice Magic". There, families can ice skate, eat, and rent a curling lane. The heated tent had a handful of food stands, and I stumbled across a heavenly surprise. I do not say this lightly when I say this was the best mac and cheese I've ever had. Its God-given name is Älplermagronen. The melty-cheesy goodness is served with potatoes, crispy onions, ham for the carnivores, and apple sauce. I will be chasing that flavor for the rest of my life.


I kept my eye out for interesting typography around the city. What stood out to me the most was typography on buildings' facades. It looks carved or painted, and usually has the name of the building and the year it was build (I'm assuming). On several occasions, there were whole sentences written across the building. I tried Googling why this is, but the front page of Google gave me nothing -- and the second page got weird.


On Sunday we stumbled across a few more interesting things. A ceiling made of Swiss Army knives, a "Design Your Own SWATCH" station and $20 Swiss air for sale. Also, look how THICC that Swiss Army Knife is. It's $450.


Will's non-negotiable item of the weekend was a Swiss Fondue dinner. We made reservations at Taverne and enjoyed a hearty vat of cheesy goodness. We dipped bread bits, tiny pickles and potatoes -- always remembering to stir clockwise and to savor every bite.


While we didn't get to go on a boat cruise or see the St. Beatus Caves, we still had a great weekend in the Alps. My non-negotiable item was to see where the mountains meet the lake. Since Interlaken is actually not where this happens, we took a trip a few miles down the road to Spiez. We spent time in the towns of Unterseen and Grindelwald as well. I'll write a separate blog post about those towns and show you all of the amazing pictures we took! Spoiler: I got really carried away with the macro lens.


Freelance Graphic Designer