In 1987 I undertook the first of three pan-European interrail holidays and having failed to enter Eastern Europe (wait for letter M for more details) we headed back through Austria, Italy and eventually Switzerland.
Yearning for some natural beauty following our visits to city after city, we decided to head for the Swiss town of Interlaken having seen a poster of the place at Bern train station.
We were 16 days into the trip and yet to use the tent that my travelling companion Poll had burdened himself with. Interlaken would give us that opportunity.
We found the place absolutely stunning – the crystal clear waters of Lakes Thun and Brienz, the brooding Jungfrau Mountain covered in pine forest and the chocolate box wooden chalets and fishermen’s huts dotted around the shoreline. Paradise on earth.
I remember basking in the warm September sunshine lazily feeding bread to the ducks and swans whilst drinking a refreshing stein of beer.
It was soon time to leave the wonderful scene however to go and pitch our tent at the camping site close to Interlaken East train station. We walked back into town and feeling lazy we decided we would take the train from Interlaken West for the one stop and five minutes to where we wanted to go. After all we did not have to pay but merely had to write the journey in our interrail booklet.
Nothing could go wrong with that surely? Not with Wilbur & Poll in town!
We somehow managed to get on the wrong platform and got whisked outside Interlaken to some nondescript junction twenty-five minutes away. We naturally got off and really did find ourselves in the middle of nowhere, just an unmanned passenger shelter, a platform and the rails.
To make matters worse, the next train back to Interlaken was fifty minutes away! Our five minute timesaver would now take seventy minutes longer!
Furthermore, by the time we did get to our destination it was starting to get gloomy and we had a tent to pitch. To cap it all, Poll found out that he had left the tent pegs at home!
We somehow managed to get the two-man tent up and just about stable by borrowing five spare pegs from a neighbouring pitch, using our forks from our cutlery sets and bending some sticks we found lying around.
Luckily the weather remained fair that night and we managed to get some sleep thanks in no small way to the beers we consumed in the campsite bar. I did however waken early due to the itchy ankle I had courtesy of some mosquitoes that frequented the youth hostel in Ferrara Italy where we had stayed the night before.
What I had not realised during the night as I blindly scratched, was that the bites had become infected and that my ankle was so swollen that I could not get my walking boot on.