Distance Walked: 8 km Climb walked: 5m Descent Walked: 5m Distance skipped by ship: 18.2km Distance skipped by bus: 7.5km
On the dot of 8, breakfast materialized, surprising both of us: I hadn’t heard a peep out of my hostess, nor she from me. And a 20-minute walk along the Jakobsweg into town brings me to the ships’ pier. The lake steamers spend the night at Interlaken, at the other end of the lake, so there are no early departures from Briënz. I should have researched the schedule better before settling on this itinerary, as the hour and a half lost would make a big difference at the end of the afternoon.
It is a peaceful cruise, with only a splatter of the threatened rain. The steamer stops at towns along the way, alternating north shore with south shore in zig zag fashion. There are marked hiking routes along both north and south shores; the north shore route gives the better views of the higher Alps to the south. But the southern route includes the Grand Hotel Geissbach – which resembles greatly the Grand Budapest Hotel, including the funicular. If you haven’t seen that film yet, treat yourself.
Finally we arrive in Interlaken, where the tourists have been hanging out: Chinese, Australian, French, Japanese, and American. For a change of pace I choose Chinese for lunch; the Turkish pizza next door, menu in German, was just too much of a challenge.
From Interlaken east to Interlaken west is 2 km at least, and given my mis-direction, a bit more than that. Much of it follows a scenic and quite full canal waterway. Then the path crosses a very large nature reserve for an hour, before arriving at the shore of the Thunersee, and following it around. The problem is that Gut Rallingen, my lodgings for the night, are well past Merlingen, even though they have a Merlingen postal address. At this rate I won’t arrive until after 7 pm; so I elect to take the bus for this last section, to the Rallingen bus stop.
The hospitality at Gut Rallingen is warm and personal, and the accommodations are quite comfortable. There is a pilgrim dorm and a shared bath and toilet, which I have to myself. This is a hospitality offered only to pilgrims or those making a retreat. Dinner is an assortment of cold salads, hot roast pork, penne pasta and bratkartoffeln with fresh apple tart for dessert. Breakfast was equally abundant, with three types of cold cuts, four cheeses, yogurt with muesli, coffee and juice, as well as several freshly baked breads and a platter of fresh fruit. Very highly recommended for pilgrims and retreatants.
China Restaurant Bamboo, Untere Bönigstrasse 4, 3800 Interlaken
Gut Rallingen, Schlossweg 3, 3658 Merligen , +41 (0)33 252 20 30 , Rallingen@christustrager.org