Look beyond the regular, and you’ll find that the popular Swiss getaway of Interlaken has a whole lot of thrills hidden up its sleeve
Words: KRUTTIKA NADIG
Photographs: HIMANSHU PANDYA
“One, two, threeee!”
A 20-metre drop looks much further than it is from my narrow platform up in a Swiss tree. I’m standing here with a sturdy rope hooked to my back and five faces looking up at me expectantly. It’s just a tiny jump, I tell myself, there’s no way you can get hurt. My feet refuse to accept this sound logic, and I wonder why. On the way up to my arboreal perch, I had been imagining myself doing a perfect, graceful swan dive into the base-jumping hall of fame. Now I’m just yearning to get back on ground as soon as possible. There’s only one way to do it. I hear “One-Two-Three!” echoing for the fourth or fifth time, and plummet downwards.
Crowning Interlaken like a cheeky fringe, the forest of adventure that is Seilpark is worlds apart from the town’s glittering luxury-watch-shops- and vintage-car-studded promenade. I’m here on a mission to discover the “other” side of everyone’s favourite Swiss destination. That means no shopping, no fondue, and – gasp! – no Jungfrau. This is much easier said than done since the immense snow-covered peak is always in my line of vision. But shunning the dramatic cogwheel train ride up to the queen of the Bernese Alps, I instead ride a modest funicular up to Harder Kulm, Interlaken’s smaller and greener mountain. And there, among a bunch of locals in summer garb, under a red umbrella and over my first plate of hot rösti, I take in an extraordinary view of Jungfrau and its adoptive town wedged between two limpid glacial lakes.
Having visited the famous mountain on a previous trip, I can visualise its sun-washed ski slopes from my seat across the valley. Jungfrau and Harder Kulm share a funny relationship that reminds me of the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock in New York: both offer terrific views of the city, but the latter also has the advantage of having the former in its view! By not going to Jungfrau, I can spend more time looking at her and her snowy brethren from the other high and low points the Interlaken region has to offer. Points which I will soon zoom up, glide down, ride, hike, splash about and crash into, on a summer adventure that dodges past all the clichés you’ve heard about Switzerland…