You can drive the autobahn from Lausanne to Interlaken in less than an hour. Here's a longer, slower, more scenic route.

Are you feeling low, traveler? You say the rental car company gave you a motor scooter instead of a Mercedes Benz? You say when you checked out of the hotel this morning you found out it cost $150 per person instead of $150 per room? And you phoned home last night to check on your 16 year-old son and a voice rising above the background roar yelled "Hey, Jimmy, the keg is almost empty," and Jimmy is your son? Is that what's troubling you traveler? Well, slap a cassette of your favorite music in the tape player and crank the sunroof open. Here's a Swiss drive to lift your spirits.

The route is from Lausanne to Interlaken avoiding the autobahn. It first curves along the north side of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) through the western Lavaux wine region, from whence come some of the best wines of the Vaud, then turns north toward Switzerland's Mittelland and, at Bulle, east through the Jaunpass in the "Pre-Alps."

Actually we started our drive from Hotel Debarcadere in the Lausanne suburb of St. Sulpice. (See story, page 5). The map we used was Mairs Die Generalkarte #2 for Switzerland.

Set your car's trip odometer to zero, turn left from the front of the hotel and follow the road as far as possible. Shortly you will have no choice but to turn away from the lake and intersect the main road, Route #1. Take a right and follow the signs to Vevey.

At about 4.2 km from the hotel is an optional right turn to visit Roman ruins. At the edge of Lausanne is a roundabout where you must choose to either continue along the lake, following the Ouchy signs, or drive up the hill and go through town following the Vevey signs. Either way you return to the lake road.

After Lausanne you should be on Route #9. At about 12 km you'll begin to see the neat vineyards of Lavaux clinging to the steep hillside and crisscrossed by a network of stone fences.

At about 16.9 is Vieux Molin, a restaurant set among the vineyards with a terrace overlooking the lake. The views here, above Lac Léman, are stunning in every direction. Across the way is France and the Savoy Alps. There are several turnouts for picture taking.

On your left at about the 20 km mark note the waterfall tucked into the steep cliffs.

Approximately 24.5 km into the drive make a U-turn under the railroad tracks and start up the hill, following signs to Bulle and Fribourg. At 25.9 km take the left toward Chatel-St. Denis and get another great look at the lake, this time from a higher altitude. Soon you pass over the autobahn, then negotiate a few switchbacks through the vineyards. At 28.4 km turn right to Chatel-St. Denis and Bern. At the 36 km mark you should be on Route #12.

Once through Chatel-St. Denis the road breaks out into a wide, high valley. The drive has a new look. The rolling hills are dotted with farms.

Continue on #12 to Bulle - 55.9 km - where you will turn right following signs to Jaun, Gruyères and Chateau-d'Oex. At about 58.2 km go left toward Jaun, Broc and Charmey and into the mountains. Jaun, a typical mountain village, is the dividing line between Romansh and Germanic Switzerland. Note the stone church on the left. Once through the town the road climbs again.

At about 79.1 km the road narrows considerably and gets a little scary, especially in places where there is no guard rail.

At the Jaunpass summit (1,508 meters/4,951 feet) - 84.4 km into the drive - are a couple of restaurants and a few summer cabins. During the first portion of the descent the road has two lanes, guard rails and good markings before it narrows and the hairpin turns begin.

Turn left at 93.2 km to Interlaken on Route #11. Follow the Simme River noting several covered bridges which cross the river.

You have another decision to make at Spiez. The quicker way to Interlaken is to turn right and follow the south shore of the Thunersee. Otherwise, go left to Thun, turning right there and following the scenic road along the north shore. Thun is worth a half a day if you have the time. We had an excellent, inexpensive (less than $9 per person without beverages) lunch there at the Hotel Restaurant zu Metzgern (Rathausplatz, CH-3600, Thun, phone 033/22 21 41). Other stops of interest on this side of the lake are the lakeside castles at Oberhofen and Beatenberg.

This drive is about 136 km the short way. Going by way of Thun adds about 20 km.

June 1993