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3 weeks of Switzerland, from lake to peak


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Posts: 9 
Billandsuz1
Billandsuz1
22 posts
new member
Oct 4, 2021 - 11:06 PM

How could it be that we've traveled all over Europe, but never been to Switzerland?! We took care of THAT this September. We're senior travelers; like to do our own thing; and love interacting with local culture. TIP: learn something of the language(s). I studied Spanish in high school and university, took a couple of years of French; and touched on German in preparation for a trip some time ago. All three helped me connect in Switzerland. We met quite a number of travelers from Brazil and Spanish became the common language. Knowing and using any of the local language never, ever disappoints. TIP: Buy a Swiss Travel Pass before you depart. It's so easy to use and enables you to hop on almost any transportation! Here's a quick overview of our trip with a few tips included.

Zurich: We flew into Zurich airport and hopped the train into the city. We found extra-large lockers in the train station for both our bags, loaded up our backpacks and took the walking tour laid out in Rick Steves' guidebook. We returned to the train station, grabbed our bags and took the train on to Lucerne. Our hotel, the Pickwick, was within walking distance to the train station and situated on the river walk - a perfect location. TIP: We look for accommodations near the train station, Old Town, and the Metro. The Transportation Museum is worth seeing; fun VR experiences and it comes with your Swiss Travel Pass!

Lauterbrunnen: Charming valley between the Alpine peaks! We stayed at Chateau Rosa with a view of the waterfall. We stayed one night and then... left our big bags there, loaded our backpacks with overnight needs and traveled up the mountain to...

Mürren: So unbelievably beautiful, you really get "into" the Alps. We stayed at the Edelweiss, a charming hotel that clings to the edge of a cliff. We took an easy hike to Allmendhubel and ended that with a beer, salad and soup at a little restaurant at the gondola. Then we returned to Mürren for a lovely dinner at our hotel. The next day, we hiked to...

Gimmelwald and on to a lift that returned us to the bus to Lauterbrunnen. TIP: Sundays are very slow and most restaurants are closed. We found a charming mountainside hotel and patio in Gimmelwald, open for beer and snacks! We were lucky to find it!

Lauterbrunnen: We returned to the Chalet Rosa for a few more days. Before we departed home, we'd reorganized our agenda when we learned that there was to be an international race that would begin in Interlaken, run up into the Alps and end in Lauterbrunnen. We thought it would be quite crowded. It was not! And in fact, it was fun to watch the runners as then finished up near our hotel. With Lauterbrunnen as our base, we hiked behind the nearby Trümmelbach waterfall; hiked to the Staubbach Falls (within the mountain); and took the train to J ungfraujoch and spent the day at the Top of Europe! The next morning, we hopped the train to ...

Zermatt and the Matterhorn! TIP: As you plan your trip, not the length of train time to the next destination. Lauterbrunnen to Zermatt is a 3 + hour trip. Near every train station, we found a COOP grocery story and picked up sandwiches (don't forget the little tubes of spread!) and apples. Also, don't forget the chocolate! Zermatt is a beautiful, charming ski town... and mostly under construction! TIP: Once you arrive, call and check in with your hotel. We stayed at the Alpenroyale. We usually walk to our hotel, but in this case, it would've been all uphill and behind construction! The hotel sent a cart to pick us up. We had an unforgettable view of the Matterhorn! When we arrived, it was clear and sunny. We'd planned to travel to the Matterhorn the next day. TIP: If it's sunny, GO! DON'T WAIT! We did and the next 2 days were cloudy and rainy!! Thank Goodness we got photos the first day, because we never saw it again. Our next destination was...

Lausanne: Our hotel was in a perfect location! Hotel du Port was right on the waterfront, with a lovely indoor/outdoor patio, steps from the the TI (Tourist Information) and the Metro line that takes you straight up the hill to all the sites and old town and takes you back to the bus to the airport. From Lausanne, lake excursions to Montreux and to the Chillon Castle are easy. The boat dock is right in front of the hotel! And for a nice rainy day activity - the Olympic Center is just steps down the street.

FINAL TIPS:

  • Stay tuned to My Swiss Alps (MSA), even as you travel. They update information constantly and respond quickly if you have an urgent question or need while you're there.
  • We were to return to the US flying from Zurich, changing planes in Frankfurt, Germany. Germany, as well as other European nations, were trying to manage and in some cases, change the restrictions for foreign travelers. Thanks to what we learned from MSA we changed our flight to be a direct flight from Zurich to Newark, NJ so that we would avoid any issues that could arise from those changes.
  • Did I mention we are senior travelers? We had done lots of research on things to see and do in each destination. Our schedule was very full - but we knew we wouldn't likely do all of those activities. We've discovered the value of an afternoon break - a nap after lunch. Don't dismiss the value of that rest. ;-)
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Anna
Anna
1722 posts
top member &
moderator
Oct 5, 2021 - 5:40 AM in reply to Billandsuz1

Hi Billandsuz1,

I enjoyed reading this so much. Sounds like you had an amazing time despite all the recent uncertainties regarding Covid restrictions.

Love all the tips you shared -- very useful and would definitely help fellow travellers planning a trip to Switzerland.

Best regards,

Anna

Shroffchetan
Shroffchetan
188 posts
active member
Oct 6, 2021 - 2:41 AM

Enjoyed reading your trip report- crisp and full of information

Ildiko
Ildiko
1359 posts
top member &
moderator
Oct 6, 2021 - 8:13 AM in reply to Billandsuz1

Hi Billandsuz1,

thanks for sharing your experiences with us, it was so good to read it. And so many great tips! Thank you! I am sure that other readers will find it also very useful.

I wish you all the bests,

Ildiko

Annika
Annika
6689 posts
expert &
moderator
Oct 7, 2021 - 6:20 AM in reply to Billandsuz1

Hi Bill and Suz,

Glad you discovered Switzerland now, and that you enjoyed it that much! Your journey throughout the country sounds wonderful. The both of you look so happy in the attached pictures :-). It must have been a great travel experience.

Thanks for sharing your tips about transportation, hotels, day trips and flights. I'm sure they're helpful for other travelers.

Do you happen to have any plans for a return trip one day? Best regards,

Annika

Billandsuz1
Billandsuz1
22 posts
new member
Oct 7, 2021 - 1:51 PM in reply to Annika

A trip back to Switzerland? Maybe, one day. I'd love to use Switzerland as a base for a trip to Germany for Oktoberfest; to return to Venice; to return to Paris and eastern France! But the world is wide and our next trip is to Macchu Pichu in South America, then Africa. Too little time, too much to see!

Dora Lee
Dora Lee
10 posts
new member
Oct 11, 2021 - 6:00 AM

Dears, Thanks for TIPS shared. very useful. I am planing a 2-weeks trip to switzerland too. I am going to be senior next year but I dont think i am smart as you two. 😍😍

Thanks again / Dora

Shroffchetan
Shroffchetan
188 posts
active member
Oct 11, 2021 - 9:17 AM in reply to Dora Lee

Hi Dora

Best wishes for your vacation

No smartness required for planning. Myswissalps members are more than eager to help. Believe me researching for vacation is more fun than vacation itself

Billandsuz1
Billandsuz1
22 posts
new member
Oct 11, 2021 - 1:38 PM in reply to Dora Lee

Dora, we're not so smart... we have learned a lot from previous travels, plus we like to do the research. We do Google searches on each location to learn about "things to do" and then we go to YouTube to find all kinds of videos on the places we'd go visit. Tour guides have posted their tours on YouTube and those videos also contain good tips. We also buy at least one guidebook (hard copy) and read about the area we'll visit and fill that guidebook with notes, asterisks, pages marked with tabs and folded corners to info, like when and where are market days, when museums are closed, and what are the top 3 sites to see in the area. We take that guidebook with us for reference and because there's usually a walking tour or 2 described in it. We've also downloaded podcasts on special locations, like a special cathedral or art museum, on our phones so we can listen to it as we tour. We also download the rail line app, so you have the schedule and the platform for your next train. By our departure date, we're very excited about where we're headed and we have our activities all laid out.

Oh, and packing? We pack light! We each take a roller bag and a backpack. The backpack carries everything I'd need for overnight with space for an extra shirt or pants. I tuck a small, fabric purse into my backpack so when I want to go to someplace nice for dinner, I can carry just the basics and leave the backpack in the room.

Have a great time! It's just a gorgeous country with friendly people, most of whom speak English.

Last modified on Oct 11, 2021 - 1:39 PM by Billandsuz1
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