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Donít be ashamed of being a tourist in INTERLAKEN Ė thatís what the place exists for. Interlaken is all that many visitors ever see of Switzerland, whisked through the country on a rapid lakes-and-mountains tour. The town is perfectly positioned as the gateway into the Oberland, linked into main train routes to and from Bern and ZŁrich, with branch lines feeding out in all directions into the high Alps nearby. Itís a pleasant enough place, even if bustling and commercial and packed with Swiss-kitsch souvenir shops, and itís useful for its proximity to the mountains.

The town is situated on the BŲdeli, a small alluvial neck of land between the Thunersee and Brienzersee. Itís one of the oldest resorts in the country, famed for its superb views towards the Jungfrau massif, which lies perfectly framed between two hills to the south of town. And thatís pretty much the whole story Ė history, character and tradition take a back seat to the necessities of providing for the hundreds of thousands of trippers who pass through on their way to more dramatic backdrops. One thing you canít fail to notice is that many of the shops which cram the centre of town have prominent signs in Japanese Ė of Interlakenís tourists, fully a quarter are from Japan, as many as from around Switzerland.

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