From the mountains to the lake.
We took advantage of our Swiss Travel Pass and got on a boat on Lake Brienz to the town of Brienz. It was just over a one hour trip along the snow covered mountain tops.
A magnificent view.
I had the idea that life around the lake was calm, but I was wrong. There were towns along the shore, with hotels, train stations and many, many houses.
Still the view is very tranquil.
A lady from the tourism information office suggest that we get off at one station (Iseltwald) and hike to the next one (Giessbach), where the waterfall is. It would've been a good idea, but we ended up spending most of our day at the Ballenberg Open Air Museum because of the kids.
Brienz is another adorable village, east of Interlaken, with a bit more than 3 thousand people.
It's right on the lake and also has a great transportation system.
We didn't explore the village because we went straight to the super fun Ballenberg Open Air Museum. It's a big outdoors area with many old houses with interactive exhibition of what life used to be like here decades or centuries ago.
Since the 1970s old farmhouses, stables, bakehouses or barns are no longer demolished when they are due to be replaced by modern buildings. Instead, the buildings are dismantled stone by stone, and rebuilt in the Ballenberg Open Air Museum.
What began in 1978 with 16 characteristic Swiss buildings, is today an extensive exhibition with about over 100 residential and agricultural buildings from all over Switzerland, on a 66 hectare large area: this is the Ballenberg Open Air Museum. The historic buildings and their kitchens, chambers and living rooms illustrate rural life in Switzerland.
Ballenberg has been brought alive primarily by the original, indigenous plants and crops that are cultivated here and over 250 native livestock species. Traditional handicrafts are kept alive in the workshops of the open air museum: basket-weaving, forging, braiding, spinning, weaving and carving are just some of the many handicrafts on show every day. Visitors can look over the experts' shoulders or join in themselves.
To complete the attractions: a petting zoo, a house with historic toys to try out, a forest trail, gardens, medicinal herbs, themed exhibits, special events and courses on culture and customs.
You probably didn't know - neither did I - but there is lots to learn about Swiss' cows, including their bells.
A typical Swiss mountain cabin.
The museum offers a lot of hands on activities for the families. Here the kids are working at a wood shop, making their own wood toys. There is no glue, only wood, rope, creativity and persistence - because it's not easy to fabricate a toy out of pieces of raw wood.
The kids are encouraged to use sharp tools like knives and saws.
Another workshop was about making your own butter. Each child or family gets a little pot with cream and shakes it until it turns butter. It's actually pretty cool and we all got really excited to see the transformation. In another chalet, people were making real bread.
We got to try the butter with crackers right there and we even got the rest in a to go container to bring home. No extra payments because it was included 100% in our Swiss pass.
By the way, I really recommend this pass if you are moving around like us. I think we would've spent three or four times more money if we had to pay for each bus, cable car, train, boat and museum, separately.
I can't stress enough about how good of a deal the Swiss Travel Pass is for families. And it's hassle free, because you don't need to get in lines to buy tickets every time. You just have to show the pass and you are good to go.
Children can interact with farm animals, like donkeys, horses, pigs and chickens.
After learning so much about rural life in Switzerland, we headed back to the Brienz station (about a 10 minutes bus ride) and then we took the train back to Interlaken (much shorter than the boat: only 15 minutes.) It's so cool how all the buses, trains and boats are connected here. Basically you get off one and wait no longer than 10 to 15 minutes for the next one. Needless to say, being Switzerland, they are ALWAYS on time. I mean, REALLY on time.
Back in Interlaken.
Hohematte Park, by the end of the day, watching paragliders landing one after another.
Dinner was at an Italian restaurant, but dessert was Swiss Crepes with Swiss chocolate.
Sweet day. :)