First time trip to Europe seeking advice

First time trip to Europe seeking advice

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Paladin
Paladin
5 posts
new member
Mar 29, 2016 - 4:05 AM

We're (wife and I), taking the Rhine river cruise which lands in Basel during the early morning hours of May 6. We plan on getting up early in hopes of beating the rush and starting our four days in Switzerland. I've done a ton of research and read many of the forums in trying to learn as much as I can but am very open to advice from "the experts" that travel these boards.

Since we will have been in Europe for about 12 days we should be pretty rested, (no jet lag) and plan on packing these days pretty full. We've taken advantage of the 30% Discount for the 4 Day first class Swiss Rail Pass.

May 6 - Disembark and travel to Luzern or the Bernese Overland area where we'll get a hotel for two of the nights. (Originally, I was thinking the Interlaken area or Grindelwald as they would both be close to the Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch. But, with the Jungfraujoch guided tour not operating out of Interlaken in May it sounds like Luzern would make more sense. And, that would allow us to maybe see some of the sights around Luzern as well. Hopefully it would still be mid to late morning. Since that is still too early for a hotel check-in would most hotels agree to allow us to drop off our luggage? Is there a better idea?

We've narrowed our activities down to (not in any particular order but, for the sake of time would probably combine the hike with the Schilthorn:

Walking in the Lauterbrunnen valley - Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg which, according to the website is about an hour an 45 minutes. Just before Stechelberg take the cable car to Murren and then the Schilthorn.

Take the guided tour from Luzern (Lucerne) have seen it both ways and am not sure which is proper) to Jungfraujoch. Would love to take the tour from Interlaken but the website shows it is booked or, only operates in April and October?

Take the guided tour from Lucerne to Titlis.

Take the Wilhelm Tell Express Route.

Once we complete our activities on May 8 we'd take the train to Zurich so we would be close to the Airport for the following morning at 10:25 AM.

Based on my research and use of the timetable it looks like one of these will have to be cut out. Any suggestions? Or, is there a way it would all work in?

My apologies for the long message. Open to any ideas / suggestions you might have including hotels in Luzern that might be near the train station. Many thanks in advance.

Mark

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2659 posts
expert
Mar 29, 2016 - 5:50 PM in reply to Paladin

Hi Mark-

I have not had time to digest your message in detail, or check for a detaied travel schedule/iyinerary, but perhaps these comments will help.

www.myswissalps.com/be sttimetovisit

The cograil from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen (or Grindelwald) and thence to Jungfraujoch runs all year.

Look through these maps:

www.lahistoriaconmapas .com/atlas/maps/switze rland-map-grindelwald.htm

No need for a guided tour. May is not busy. Don't by tickets in advance.....weather needs to be confirmed at the last minute. You could endup paying a lot to view the inside of the clouds which happen up there. Boring and expensive..

May is low season in the Jungfrau region. Skiing is gone and hiking has not started, except at the lower altitudes. Many cableways will not operate until June, maybe mid June, and higher trails (not those on the valley floor) will be blocked with snow. Some hotels will be closed.

Luzern -

Hotels routinely allow you to drop of your luggage. There are lockers way out along track #1, and also a left luggage room.

Tourist info by track #1 is very good.

In early May, it is even possible that your room MAYbe available in the early AM.."May" because Luzern is a tourist mecca at any time of the year.

Slowpoke

There is no need to take a guided tour of the mountain areas. There is frequent, flexible and clerly signed train service. Do it your self on your schedule.

Luzern deserves many days, but there is something for even short stays:

www.myswissalps.com/lu cerne

May has a reasonable chance for good weather at that low altitude.

sskundu
sskundu
127 posts
active member
Mar 29, 2016 - 8:21 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Hi Slowpoke,

My visit to Titlis and Jungfrau is on 19/4 and 20/4. Not sure if that too is low season but would want to do some skiing and snowboarding if possible at one of these peaks. Can you tell me the exact location where this can be done ? How much would it cost ? Atleast if the top is cloudy I can do some activities.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2659 posts
expert
Mar 29, 2016 - 8:57 PM in reply to sskundu

Quick answer- I'm traveling.

Can't help with the details you asked about.

The difference is that the Jungfrau region has many mountains, many trails, many slopes, over a a very large area.

My comment was to let you know that cableway access to some of them will not be running.

Perhaps Arno/Annikacan refine my answer.

Slowpoke

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2659 posts
expert
Mar 29, 2016 - 9:57 PM in reply to Paladin

Mark-

one additional thought-

The Wilhelm Tell Express is on kind of experience.

And, you can take the two main pieces or skip one, or shorten the rail section by making your own schedule.

Both the rail portion and the lake portion are really nice.

To a certain degree, Titlis and the Jungfrau region have a good deal in common. Both are high alpine regions.

The Jungfrau region is much larger, more varied, and might make me choose alone instead of both.

Further, it is best to allow more than one day in the Jungfrau region, if possible, to allow a better chance for good weather on high. Clouds spoil the view when you are inside them. ;-(

The problem wit that advice is that many of the wide range of cableways and higher trails that make the Jungfrau region so appealing are closed when you are there.

The cograil will run (to Kleine Scheidegg and Jungfraujoch. I don't know if the Schilthorn Bahn will run...check the time table.

Slowpoke

Paladin
Paladin
5 posts
new member
Mar 30, 2016 - 3:06 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Slowpoke,

First and foremost, thanks for your comments.

Secondly, thanks for your time. While I've only viewed probably a couple of hundred posts I've seen a couple of dozen of yours. Your obviously a very knowledgable person in this area and have a passion for sharing that knowledge. Without people like you these boards wouldn't be the sought after resource that they are. So, thanks again.

We're also following your advice and kind of take as it goes to see what might be could for any particular day. We'll also try to get Wilhelm Tell journey in. Sounds like fun.

Thanks again.

Mark

Arno
Arno
7728 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 30, 2016 - 8:05 AM in reply to Paladin

Hi Mark,

Just to be sure you're not missing any information, the below pages might be helpful:

I agree with the advise given above that guided tours are not required. Not that they're bad, but if you have a Swiss Travel Pass it makes sense to do things on your own. If you prefer a guided tour, do make sure you'll get a discount. Otherwise you'd pay double as your Swiss Travel Pass already includes free train/bus/boat rides and discounted cable car rides: myswissalps.com/ swisstravelpass/ validity.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2659 posts
expert
Mar 30, 2016 - 2:55 PM in reply to Paladin

<<"Your obviously a very knowledgeable person in this area and have a passion for sharing that knowledge. Without people like you these boards wouldn't be the sought after resource that they are. So, thanks again.">>

You are more than welcome. Glad I could help. Switzerland and its citizens have been good to me, and I like to return the favor. And, the country offers a lot, not just highly photographable scenery, but some interesting lessons on how to hold a multicultural country together, especially as you dig into how it works. "Direct Democracy" is alive and well.

And, as far as this forum is concerned, you will find several forum members who have detailed knowledge available on particular subjects. One of the most outstanding contributions comes from Kim -

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/tips-about-wengen-and-the-jungfrau-region-by-kim

<<"We're also following your advice and kind of take as it goes to see what might be could for any particular day. ">>

The day by day advice works for all of Switzerland, because you can look at the weather on the TV (SF1) in the early AM, and take a train to a sunny area, if your first choice is rainy. There are substantial regional differences in weather, and there are microclimates near the mountains. As it pertains in particular to the Jungfrau region, that is important. The mountains influence the weather, and it often changes quickly. The reason you go there is the high alpine scenery, so, while Luzern works better on a sunny day, it is not a failure on a cloudy day. The top of the Jungfrau is rather disappointing in low visibility weather. Down in the LauterbrunnenValley is still OK, but better in the sunshine..

If you spend a lot of money to go up to the Jungfraujoch, and end up inside clouds, it is not only a disappointment, it is an expensive one. That leads to the existence of an extensive network of information on the topic....not just weather sites on the internet.

www.meteocentrale.ch/

Your hotel probably will know where to call even if you are in Luzern. The tourist office by track #1 in Luzern is a marvel of knowledge resources. Nearer the Bernese Oberland, the train stations and tourist offices in towns like Interlaken, Wengen, Lauterbrunnen, etc. often have webcams, bulletin boards, and knowledgeable desk clerks. Towns have websites with weather.

<<"We'll also try to get Wilhelm Tell journey in. Sounds like fun. ">>

Arno provided some links on the Wilhelm Tell route.

To amplify my comments on segments that can be done as individual trips, here are a few more thoughts.

The train route over the Gotthard pass is way up on the list of the world's best....particularly because of the engineering and the way it lets you see the scenery....natural and man made. Although taking the route all the way south to Lugano or Locarno ( Locarno is much preferred for a short stop of an hour or two in my opinion) is conventional, you can short circuit the end and save time by going as far as Bellinzona then turning around.

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

Look at the pictures here.

www.myswitzerland.com/ en-us/locarno.html

The train station in Locarno is a very short walk from the lakefront promenade, and from the funicular up to the Madonna del Sasso. Lugano station is above the city and a bit further from the lakeshore. So, it rewards a longer stay.

As far as the Lake Lucerne part....der Vierwaldstättersee...the lake has different parts with different characteristics. Nearby mountains can be high ( Pilatus) or not so high ( the Rigi.) Rigi will be snow- free (mostly) in May, and has nice walking available. It has more usable surface area than steep, mountainous Pilatus. The northern part of the lake is quite attractive, with nice scenery on the surrounding shores.

The southernmost part, near/in Canton Uri is called der Urnersee. It is more dramatic.

I don't have images on this laptop (traveling) but this link gives some partial idea:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/the-swiss-path-and-southern-lake-lucerne

In particular, there is panoramic map of the Urnersee.

For the southern part, the train at Brunnen is a good access point, and also at Flüelen, at the southernmost tip. Flüelen is sort of the beginning of the Gotthard pass. The train station at Brunnen is a 5-10 minute walk from the boat dock. Most all of the northern landing points have bus service, some have train service, such as Alpnachstad at the foot of Pilatus.

You can break (and shorten) the trip on the lake by taking a train to/from Luzern at Flüelen or Brunnen. If you take the full boat routing from Luzern to Flüelen, as part of the southbound Wilhelm Tell Express, you might consider your return to Luzern via train instead of boat from Flüelen. Saves some hours. Lake boat schedules are less frequent than train schedules, which becomes important late in the day.

www.lakelucerne.ch/en/ timetable-fares/timetable/

Hope that helps.

Slowpoke

Paladin
Paladin
5 posts
new member
Mar 31, 2016 - 12:42 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Thanks again Slowpoke! The "Kim document" is SOME document, er book and should probably be published. Still working my way through it (as well as some of the links in your message, Lol) but, it's definitely interesting reading.

Mark

who's not sure where you got your nickname but, he's pretty sure it doesn't describe your posts.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2659 posts
expert
Mar 31, 2016 - 6:17 PM in reply to Paladin

<<"who's not sure where you got your nickname but, he's pretty sure it doesn't describe your posts.">>

Has to do with my speed of ascending hills or lack of it. ;-)

If you walk in Switzerland, you will find an extensive, well maintained trail network.

www.alpenwild.com/hike -alps/trail-signs-swiss-alps

The routes are marked with yellow signs, which give travel time to the noted destinations.

The Swiss routinely meet those times. I do too, on a walk that is reasonably level by US standards.

However, It takes me about 2 times the indicated time in hilly country.

To put that into perspective -

Walking is a legitimate form of public transportation in Switzerland.

And, based on my data from the results noted above, the Swiss walk just as fast uphill or downhill as they do on level ground.

;-)

Slowpoke

Last modified on Mar 31, 2016 - 6:18 PM by Slowpoke
Paladin
Paladin
5 posts
new member
Mar 31, 2016 - 9:19 PM in reply to Slowpoke

<Has to do with my speed of ascending hills or lack of it. ;-)>>

Lol, in that case I'm sure they will up your rating to Speedy Gonzales or, maybe Roadrunner, once they see the wife and I.

Mark

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2659 posts
expert
Mar 31, 2016 - 11:45 PM in reply to Paladin

<<"Lol, in that case I'm sure they will up your rating to Speedy Gonzales or, maybe Roadrunner, once they see the wife and I. ">>

Well, if you are serious about that,

you will find two (at least)

websites of interest:

www.schweizmobil.ch/en /schweizmobil.html

and,

www.swisstopo.admin.ch /internet/swisstopo/en /home.html

use "view on map" link within.

In case you have not figured out yet that many people have appreciated Switzerland enough to provide information, and, as well, the federation's government offices do their best to encourage tourism, you will learn that as you proceed.

;-)

slowpoke

Paladin
Paladin
5 posts
new member
Apr 4, 2016 - 1:55 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Thanks again Slowpoke,

I'm sure we'll do some hiking but it won't be anything too serious, probably no more that 5 or 6 kilometers in the valley and maybe one ascent type climb of 3 or 4 hours. We'll see.

And yes, all of the info and support has been wonderful.

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