Switzerland without a car

Switzerland without a car

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Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
125 posts
active member
Mar 22, 2016 - 2:31 AM

Hi everyone,

In addition to the wealth of information on MySwissAlps, I am using a great book to help me plan my next trip to Switzerland, and I thought it might be worth sharing the details.

It is called "Switzerland Without a Car" by Anthony Lambert, published by Bradt Travel Guides. It probably has too much information for first-time visitors, or those on quite short trips, but for repeat visitors, or those with time to explore some of the areas less commonly frequented by tourists, it is a really great guide.

An extract from the introduction describes the contents of the book:

"This book is a guide to exploring the country by public transport, describing every railway line and what there is to see from each station, as well as connecting journeys by steamer, postbus, funicular, cableway, bicycle and on foot."

Hope this information is useful to someone!

Annika
Annika
4418 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 22, 2016 - 6:21 PM

Hi Alpenrose666,

Thanks a lot for sharing this tip! Planning your trip can be challenging indeed and such guides can be of great help. The book you mentioned seems to do justice to the excellent Swiss public transport system. Its attention for less touristy areas is interesting as well.

Are you currently planning a new visit to Switzerland yourself?

maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
318 posts
top member
Mar 22, 2016 - 11:02 PM in reply to Alpenrose666

Hello Alpenrose

Sounds like my kind of book. We are taking our 16th summer holiday in Switzerland this year and love to search out places less touristy to visit and have found many of them thanks to researching before we travel. We have favourite places among the obvious ones that we like to re-visit but always manage a good few new places for a first time visit each year.

Thanks for the recommendation.

Maggie

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Mar 22, 2016 - 11:23 PM in reply to Alpenrose666

Hi Alpenrose-

Over the years Mr. Bradt has written many books about rail travel....in Switzerland, the USA, the Alpine countries.....

Everyone that I have bought is accurate, useful, and frequently consulted. He is particularyl good on the small local railways in Switzerland. Hope you get to use his advice, ;-)

Slowpoke

maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
318 posts
top member
Mar 23, 2016 - 12:06 AM

Hello again Alpenrose

Thought you would like to know have followed your tip and ordered myself a copy of the book! Am curious now to know if any of the hidden gems we have found are included in his book!!

Maggie

Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
125 posts
active member
Mar 23, 2016 - 4:31 AM in reply to Annika

>> Are you currently planning a new visit to Switzerland yourself?

Hi Annika,

Yes, I am currently planning my 5th and 6th trips to Switzerland! My first 4 trips were between 5 and 12 days, but this year I will have the luxury of spending 6 weeks in Switzerland from late August to mid-October, and then return for a week in Wengen over Christmas.

As I live in Australia, we have Christmas in summer, so I am hoping to have a white Christmas in Wengen this year! I was in Wengen on Christmas Day in 2011. There was lots of snow in the village, and the sky was sunny and cloudless - just wonderful! (Actually, my profile photo was taken in Wengen on that day). However, from what I can gather by keeping an eye on the Wengen webcam, there was no snow in the village last Christmas, just snow on the surrounding mountains.

So I will hope for the best, but I'm sure it will be wonderful whether there's snow in the village or not. And of course we can always take a train or cable car up higher to where the snow is!

Last modified on Mar 23, 2016 - 4:33 AM by Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
125 posts
active member
Mar 23, 2016 - 4:46 AM in reply to Slowpoke

>> He is particularyl good on the small local railways in Switzerland. Hope you get to use his advice, ;-)

Hi Slowpoke,

Yes, I certainly will! I have the luck to be able to spend 6 weeks in Switzerland this coming autumn and am keen to take some "roads less travelled" as well as visit or re-visit the more well-known places.

Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
125 posts
active member
Mar 23, 2016 - 6:07 AM in reply to maggiehorswell

>> Thought you would like to know have followed your tip and ordered myself a copy of the book! Am curious now to know if any of the hidden gems we have found are included in his book!! <<

Hi Maggie,

Hope you find the book as useful as I am finding it! I would be interested in knowing about any hidden gems you have found that are not in the book too!

I have read many of your trip reports with great interest and recall that, among many other things, you have done some interesting trips on the Postbus.

During my autumn trip this year, I am hoping to include some scenic Postbus trips too, including the round trip from Meiringen over the Grimsel, Nufenen, Gotthard and Susten passes (at least part of which I think you have done), as well as two routes that you have done: from Reichenbach im Kandertal to Kiental and Griesalp, and the Postbus/Grindelwald Bus trip from Meiringen to Grindelwald over the Grosse Scheidegg.

Hopefully you will have time to write another trip report on your trip this coming summer. I look forward to reading it!

(By the way, how is your German coming along? I've been learning German for quite a few years myself and love having the opportunity to use it in Switzerland - thankfully people in Switzerland speak Standard German with me, as Swiss German is almost entirely incomprehensible to me!)

Last modified on Mar 23, 2016 - 6:09 AM by Alpenrose666
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Mar 23, 2016 - 8:09 AM in reply to Alpenrose666

Hi Alpenrose -

I certainly envy you for your stay from August through October. Great time of year, too.

I think I would see too many mountains one after another on the four passes bus route, but I've been on most parts by car or by bus or train. I've enjoyed stopping at Grimsel Hospice for lunch and history.

My reference book is Lamberts's "Switzerland by Rail" published by Bradt. I can see I misnamed the author (Anhony Lambert) and used the publisher's name by mistake above. Oh well, "Bradt" is prominent on the cover.

It is a 1996 edition, also published here in the USA by a nearby publisher in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

In any case, it is a lesson in the conversion of the Swiss Rail system to a high speed interurban network, because many of the interesting branch lines have been converted to bus routes. So, I have to check the time table.

In my case, the appeal is sometimes for the rail line itself, as opposed to the scenery.

But, the Treib-Seelisberg Bahn funicular on the Urnersee appeals for both scenery and equipment, as well as the destination and walks above the Urnersee.

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

For rail fans, exploring the varied gauges of the rolling stock throughout Switzerland is interesting. You probably have tried the well known Brienzer Rothorn Bahn, with its steam locomotives. The Schynige Platte Bahn as well...interesting because it is an 80 cm gauge rather than the more common meter gauge, for its many twists and turns, and as well as for the scenery at the destination. Last time I went by the Talstation, I did not see any of the old (electric) locomotives that look like bricks or large boxes. They were built in 1911, if I recall correctly, and were running not too many years ago.

Although the views of the Bodensee are nice, the appeal of the Rheineck -Walzenhausen line lies in its rolling stock. A couple of photos are attached. Not so great technically....they date from 2003. It has only one locomotive/car and is built to 1200mm gauge. Just a tad narrower than standard gauge.

In Welshland, the Train des Vignes is worthwhile, with a stop for lunch overloking the lake and vineyards. Especially beautiful on an afternoon in the harvest time.

www.switzerlandbyrail. com/trains/scenic/lava ux_wine_train_vevey_ch exbrex.htm

On the left of that page form that link are listed some other "special" trains.

Slowpoke

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maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
318 posts
top member
Mar 24, 2016 - 12:47 AM

Hello again Alpenrose

How great to spend 6 weeks in Switzerland! We have another 4 week holiday planned from mid-July to mid-August. Because we are there in high season, we do try to get off the beaten track to avoid crowds!

We have indeed done the 4 passes tour from Meiringen - you need to book and check when it stops running for the low season.. We had a great day - they provide audio guides (ask for English one) which is very interesting. You get to stop and admire the view en route.

I am glad you have found my reports useful. There is a great postbus ride from Brienz to Axalp where there is a lovely hike with fabulous carvings all along the route. Make sure you note the bus times to return to Brienz! Another postbus ride we enjoyed was when we went one Saturday to Domodossola to enjoy the market and instead of training back we took postbus across the Simplon Pass to Brig.

Where are you based for your Autumn trip or are you moving around? Other places we like which are less busy are Biel - interesting old place and good options for boat trips - you can take a river cruise to Solothurn or cruise the lakes. Murten is also interesting in that area. We have also visited Freiburg a couple of times - half of it is German-speaking and half French! Biel is the same.

My German is improving as the years go by! I practise by (a) texting my daughter in German - she spent 3 and a half years working in Berlin and likes to keep practising with me now she is back in the UK! (b) corresponding in German with our Swiss hosts - I am trying to encourage them to try out their English on me! (c) using it as much as possible when in Switzerland and/or Germany. I was highly flattered when a lady in a bookshop in Interlaken asked me if I was from Berlin! (d) I have 2 friends strangely both called Derek who used to be German teachers and when I am unsure about anything I email them to ask for help! I learned German in school in the early sixties but then didn't use it for 40 years so it was hard to pick it up again as the vocabulary was so different. Also in school we only learned to use the polite Sie form for plural and occasionally singular du so I had to learn the familiar plural ihr form from scratch as our Swiss hosts use it with us now we are friends as well as hosts and guests. As you say it is good that the Swiss also speak Standard German as well as Swiss German - though I have picked up some habits like saying "gute Morge" rather than "Morgen" - similarly "gute Abe" for "Abend".

I will certainly be posting a report again this year and will be sure to include any new places we discover. I hope you have a great trip in both Autumn and Christmas - enjoy the planning too - it's part of the fun for me!

Best wishes

Maggie

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Mar 24, 2016 - 1:03 AM in reply to maggiehorswell

<<"I was highly flattered when a lady in a bookshop in Interlaken asked me if I was from Berlin! ">>

Hi Maggie -

Moderately flattering. Berlin accent is not highly admired. My German teacher for one semester at University had a Berlin accent, and my German colleagues occasionally commented on it when I tried to use Hochdeutsch many years later..

Hannover has "the best" accent. That is where the Imperial Court "upgraded" German, blessing us with multiple cases for nouns and adjectives.

On the other hand, they did not accuse you of a Yorkshire or Lancashire accent. ;-)

Slowpoke

maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
318 posts
top member
Mar 24, 2016 - 2:33 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Hi Slowpoke

The point was she thought I was German and not Swiss - I don't think I have a Berlin accent or any other to come to that! My school German teacher was from Bavaria - she used to say our North Eastern English accent (I am originally from County Durham though have lived in Birmingham for nearly 50 years!) lent itself beautifully to pronouncing German vowels! My grandmother was Scottish so I picked up the 2 "ch" sounds quite quickly. My pronunciation and grammar are not bad - my problem when I tried using German again after so long was with vocabulary - I had spent a lot of the school course studying Goethe and Schiller, neither of whom used the sort of words a modern tourist needs!

Maggie

Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
125 posts
active member
Mar 24, 2016 - 5:41 AM in reply to maggiehorswell

Hello again Maggie!

Thanks for that tip about checking the dates for the 4 Passes tour and reserving seats! It is running until 16 October this year, so that will work out well for me. That trip over the Simplon Pass sounds great too, and is also going onto my list!

I will be moving around, staying 5-7 nights in each place. Wengen is a definite for 6 days, and I will stay in Zürich on the final day before I fly home, but haven't decided on the other places yet. Saas Fee, Zermatt, Locarno and Scuol are possiblities. I am looking at staying in Youth Hostels - but only those that are close to a railway station or Postbus stop, and which also offer single ensuite accommodation! (My backpacking days are behind me!)

Glad to hear your German is coming on so well, and that you have plenty of opportunities to practice and get help when needed! It certainly adds to the pleasure of travelling in Switzerland to be able to communicate in at least one of the local languages!

By the way, have you ever heard of Swiss Tavolata? I came across it in my research, but won't go into detail here, as it is off-topic for this thread. Here is the website link:

http://www.swisstavola ta.ch/

Arno
Arno
7727 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 24, 2016 - 8:18 AM in reply to maggiehorswell

Well, if someone asked if you're from a German speaking region you must be doing a good job. Whichever accent they may recognize I'm sure it's always appreciated when tourists try their best to speak the local language. German is hard enough as it is even without all the different accents. A Swiss hotel owner once told me he had a hard time talking to someone in the neighboring village on the phone. The accents apparently were very different. Enjoy your practicing!

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