Essentially a summer destination, Switzerland is rare inclusion in our travel winter list. However, travelling to Interlaken in January introduced me to its winter adventures. Known for its scenic Swiss Alps and popularised by Yash Chopra’s films, there is more to this Swiss town than just picturesque landscapes and romantic rendezvous of summers.
On a bright snowy afternoon, I got a crash course on sledging. In a few minutes, I found myself seated on a toboggan and executing my instructor’s directions for a safe descent on freshly powdered slopes.
A three-kilometre trail from Alpiglen to Brandegg was more exciting than I anticipated. As I slid through the hairpin bends, the adrenaline rush made me shriek with occasional view of the Eiger at the backdrop.
Good to know: Eiger Run from Alpiglen station to Brandegg station. Go here for details.
Perhaps the most challenging of all the winter activities was fishing on a thick layer of ice. At Stockhornbahn AG, we hired our fishing equipment and were instructed its use.
We walked to Lake Hinterstocken with our own weight in snowsuits and various equipment. On the frozen lake, we walked to find a perfect spot and start the drill (quite literally).
Ice-fishing is a complex yet fun winter activity. A perfect blend of strength, strategy and patience, drilling through the thick layer of ice was the part that required most of the strength. I sought help at this stage.
I skimmed the chunks of ice that surfaced after the pierce and meticulously attached a bait on the line and dipped it into water. After that I waited patiently hoping for a catch.
After hours of waiting, I did not succeed in hooking a trout. However, I did make a memory of lifetime.
Good to know: Drive or take the train to cable car station of Erlenbach im Simmental. Alight at Stockhornbahn and walk to Lake Hinterstocken, 15 minutes away.
Ice-skating was probably the most challenging of all winter activities I tried in Interlaken.
Every winter, the open spaces opposite the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel transforms into Top of Europe ICE MAGIC. This sprawling activity area has ice rinks, restaurants and kiosks. Skates and related equipment are available on rent here.
I rented by pair of rollerblades and carefully stepped towards the rink. After a miserable round of the skating circuit, I retuned the pair and sat with a glass of glühwein (or mulled wine).
Good to know: The fourth season of Top of Europe ICE MAGIC is from December 16, 2017 till February 24, 2018. The ice rinks will be open each day from 1000-2200hrs. Go here for more information.
Drink like a local
A walk with Viktor of Interlaken Walking Tours introduced me to the local liqueurs of Switzerland. We stopped at 3 Tells Irish Pub and begun with Appenzeller Alpenbitter. This liqueur is a concoction of 42 different herbs and spices, alcohol, caramel, French brandy and sweet wines.
The next round was a silken taste of plum distillate spirit served with warm mint tea, Münze Zwetschge. This drink embodies the tea so well that it could easily be mistaken as a non-alcoholic one. Perfect for those who enjoy subtlety.
But I met my favourite Swiss liquor on a sub-zero night, at ICE MAGIC Interlaken. Kirsch is a double-distilled cherry spirit that is consumed in a number of ways. Essentially a digestif, it also adds flavour to famous Swiss fondue and fills Swiss chocolates.
Kirsch is one of the best liquors I’ve had anywhere in the world. Sharp, edgy and potent, this drink is not for the faint-hearted.
Which is your favourite winter destination?