Jul 27, 2011 - 6:18 AM
The Swiss Travel Experience- "Top Of Europe- Rail Europe Package"
We have traveled recently to Switzerland from Muscat for a short vacation of five days .It was a magnificen tand unforgettable Trip for us .Since we had spent almost a months time preparing for it, I would like to share our experience for those who are planning to visit Swiss for the first time through this Package. Travel forum like www.MySwissAlps.com was very much helpful to us in doing so.
Under this Package "Top Of Europe -5Days/4 Night" you will be visiting two major Swiss Towns Interlaken and Lucerne .The package includes Hotel Accommodation with Complimentary breakfast for Two days each in Interlaken and Lucerne plus five Sector based free Transfer Tickets with Two mountainExcursions to Jungfraujoch as well as Mount Pilatus.
Since it was not a guide assisted tour, in the beginning I was little worried about charting out the trip by myself .But believe me, the whole trip went so smooth and I didn't have even single hiccup during the entire five days. Full credit goes to the Excellent Travel System of Switzerland and wonderful TourismNetwork of the Country. Switzerland is a country where every thing works out systematically and in time.
The concept of Free Travel Tickets are like this , It will be a round travel trip starting from your airport in Switzerland to the tourist destinations mentioned in itinerary and back .Unlike the other Swiss passes th eTransfer Tickets will not provide you any free travel or discounts on trips mentioned other than in the Itinerary. In our case It was like this
a) A TrainTravel Zurich Airportto Interlaken -Day 1
b) Round Trip Mountain Excursion to Jungfraujoch– "Top Of Europe"– Day -2
c) Boat ride from Interlakento Brienz and from there a train journey through Golden Pass Panoramic to Lucerne–Day 3
d) Round Trip Excursion to Mount Pilatus– "The Dragon Mountain" – Day -4
e) A Train Travel from Lucerneto Zurich Air Port-Day 5
According to me if you are traveler prepared for an early wake up and willing to shell out little more Francs other than your package, you can include at least two or three near by destinations to your Existing package . Like this way, we have visited three beautiful locations, Beatenberg/Niederhorn nearto Interlaken, Trummel Bach Falls Near to Lauterbrunnen and Zugerberg from Lucerne and a City Bus tour of Zurich.
We have started our trip on 28th June from Muscaton a Night flight and arrived in Zurich around 8.30 in the morning on a rainy day .Lucky for us, the rest of the days were sunny and we didn't have any further trouble due to Rain. My suggestion to all the fellow travelers are to arrive in Zurichin Morning itself ,so that you can utilize the rest of the day for your private trips.
Immediately after our customs clearance which was very cordial and baggage collection, (for which you will be taken in a small train to a different location in side theair port itself) we just followed the railway symbol inside the airport itsel fwhich took us to the Railway station beneath the Airport called Zurich Flughafen.
The first thing what we did was the validation of our Transfer Ticket in a Tourist counter inside railway station .The counter staff has verified our travel documents and entered Passport No and the Date of Travel in the Transfer Ticket .She has advised us to do the validation for the rest of the days by entering the date of travel byour self on a daily basis before starting the days travel.
We have been told that we can start our trip to Interlaken from this Zurich Flughafen.
itself.I was under the impression that I have to start our journey from Zurich H B which is the Main Rail Station of Zurich. There are two routes from Zurich to Interlaken ,one via Bern andthe other through Lucerne, we opted the for Bern since it was relatively fast and Lucerne was already included in the other leg of our travel. We changed our train in Bern and took a connection train to Interlaken West since our Hotel was very near to it. The whole journey took around Two hours time .During the journey the ticket checking was there, and the examiner was very friendly and even wished us happy journey also. Our co passengers were mainly Germen speaking Swiss nationals, they were also very friendly and even tried to help us with the little English they had.
Interlaken is a beautiful Swiss village with two Rail stations called Interlaken Ost(East) and Interlaken West. We have reached Interlaken west station around 11.30 A.M and took a five Minute walk towards our Hotel called Hotel City Oberland. The lady in the reception was very pleasing and helpful, even though the usual check in time is around 2.00 P.M she has managed an early check in for us with in twenty minutes.
She even provided us a complimentary free pass for our travel inside Interlaken city.
HotelRoom was very neat and clean.
In Switzerland you can find the Rail, Bus and Boat stations are all within Two to Five minutes walking distance.
Since we had a full half day left ,after a quick shower ,we pushed for our first trip other than our package to a beautiful village called Beatenberg .We took 30 minute scenic bus ride through the beautiful fogy mountain roads from Interlaken west Bahnhof(Bus stand) which is just outside Interlaken westrail station to Beatenberg. (Bus tickets can be bought from the driver inside Bus itself and always remember to buy a round trip because it will be cheaper for you ) From there we took a 20 minute Gondola (cable car) ride to a mountain top called Niederhorn. This was a wonderful experience. The whole trip cost us somewhere around 30 to 35 Francper person.
But really worth spending.
Whenyou are on top, remember the last connection from Niederhorn to Beatenberg is around 5.40 P.M After the trip,we reached Interlaken around 6.30 P.M.
Restaurants in Switzerland are pretty Expensive, after a five minute search we found a small Indian restaurant called "Taste of India" , near to our Hotel and had a nice dinner with rice and two sidedishes which cost me around 48 Francs for two people.
Which is quite reasonable for Swiss standards?
Even though the Sunset was pretty late (Around 11.00 PM) due to over night travel we were very much tired and postponed the city exploration for the next day and went to bed early.
Day Two -The Jungfraujoch Trip-
After an early breakfast, we took a train from Interlaken West to Interlaken Ost to start our Jungfraujoch Excursion. (Tickets can be bought from the Vendingmachine in Station itself –Approximately Three Francs Per Person).We reached Ost around 8.20 Am.
The Jungfraujoch trip is a chain of small train connections that will take you to highest Rail Station called"The Jungfraujoch – Top Of Europe" .
Even though we ourself could have validated the Transfer ticket, we took the help ofTourist office in Ost. (So Simple – Put your Travel Date on the stipulated box mentioned in your transfer ticket)
There are Two routes to Jungfraujoch- either via Grindelwald or via Lauterbrunnen ,both will take you a place called Kleine Scheidegg from there you have to your last connection to Jungfraujoch.It is always a common practice to go up via one route and come down by the other. Like this, Inerlaken Ost- Grindelwald (Change Train)-Grindelwald- Kleine Scheidegg(ChangeTrain)Kleine Scheidegg- Jungfraujoch
On your return Jungfraujoch-Kleine Scheidegg (Change Train )- Kleine Scheidegg- Lauterbrunnen- (ChangeTrain )Lauterbrunnen- Inerlaken Ost
We took the Grindelwald route, since we have planned to visit The Trummel Bach Fallsnear to Lauterbrunnen on our return to Interlaken Ost.
One Important tip for this trip is don't waste your valuable time in the Railstations, because the connection train will be waiting, if you miss that, you will have to wait for another Thirty minutes for the next connection.
Always remember to carry a good pair of Tennis Shoes (unless you don’t participate in any Winter sports) Gloves, sunglass (must), Thermal wear with a jacket, sunscrème and an umbrella (if it rains).
Good weather is essential for the success of this trip, even though it was foggy we took the chance and pushed off, gods grace once we reached on top it was pretty sunny.
We reached Jungfraujoch around 11.00 A.M, and spent almost three hours there,
(When you on top don’t miss out to Visit The Ice Palace and Sphinx Observation Terrace).Take it from me, the whole trip will be an unforgettable experience for you
On our way back we got down at Lauterbrunnen and took a ten minute bus ride to Trummel Bach Falls just outside the railstation .(The entry to The Falls will get closed by 5.30 P.M.. Don’t waste time,the connection bus will be waiting, tickets(to & fro) can be bought from the driver).We bought the tickets to the Falls from the Entry gate. (Appro.12Francs /Per)
Before going to the falls, always check the return bus timings on the yellow board in the bus stand, if you miss out that, you will have to wait for almost an hour for the next bus, if it is after 5.30 P.M. We did that mistake, other wise we could have added one more destination to our Trip called The Hader Kulm which is easily accessible from Lauterbrunnen
We came back to Lauterbrunnen and used the same Transfer ticket for our travelback to Interlaken Ost. After that we took a walk around the City till 11.00 P.M,since it was over due from yesterday.
Our day three ,We stared our trip with a Cruise Boat ride from Interlaken Ost BrZ (Boat Station)which is just behind Interlaken Ost Rail Station to Brienz. Believe me this was one of the highlight of the entire trip- Keep your Camera's ready; i am quite sure otherwise you will regret.
Tip-Take the first Cruise itself (09.40A.M) , if you miss out that you have to wait for 11.40 A.M for next One.
We reached The brienz Boat Station at 11.05 .A.M, Since our train to Lucerne
(TheFamous Golden Pass Panoramic Route- Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayega – Hindi Movie Fame)was at 12.24 P.M we thought of having a walk around the lake side of Brienz
Tip-Brienz Rail Station is only a two minute walk from Boat station.If you are having heavy luggage you can hire the Blue boxes in Rail station by putting a Nominal Five Francs in it., If you are there in Brienz ,one must use this facility because the fifteen minute walk along the lake side is really worth ,especially the wood carving area in Brienz.
After that we took the two hour train ride to Lucerne,(once again keep your camera's ready, you are going witness one of the worlds most beautiful and cynic route) and reached there by 2.00 P.M
In Lucerne we have been put up in Hotel N H Lucerne, which was almost a fifteen Minute walking distance from the main station. But we took a low floor bus (Tram) towards Maiholf and got down at a place called LowenPlatz .Lucerne Bus station is just outside Rail station, you cross the road and enter through an Arch Structure and walk towards the extreme left Platform where buses towards Maihof will stop.
(Unlikethe buses in other places, here you have to buy the tickets from the machine in Platform- Short Distance Ticket-) Our Hotel was just two minutes walking distance from Loowen Platz Bus stand. (Just behind Bouroki Panorama)
Compared to InterlakenThe Hotel was big and rooms were more spacious .The lady in the Reception was very helpful and cordial. But no complimentary free pass this time.
After the Check in, we came back to Lucerne main station and took a thirty minute train ride(Appr.24 Franc /Per person-To & Fro) to a place called Zug and from there taken a ten minute bus ride to a place called Zugerberg (Appr.15 Franc /Per-To & Fro) and took a Funicular ride to the Hill top.The Zug bus stand is almost five minute walk from Rail station. (The tickets can be bought from the bus itself and no need to take separate for Funicular. Always remember to check the return timings and the last connection).Since we started pretty late, the lady at Zug Tourism office suggested us to have a walk around the Lake side instead of going up the hill.
Instead we took the advantage of late Sun set and went for the trip, but believe me everything went well and the picturesque was awesome.
Tip– Since Zug is little far from Lucerne,Please try this ,provided you got ample time left for the day .
Day Four- The Mount Pilatus Trip
ThePilatus trip can be charted like this
A Crusie Boat ride from Lucerne to Alpnachstad from there a Cogwheel Train ride to Pilatus on return take a Cable car ride FromPilatus to Kriens and a bus ride back to Lucerne from Kriens
We started early to catch the first Cruise to Alpnachstad (8.45 A.M) from Lucerne Boat station, which is very near to the Lucerne Rail Station.. Even though this Boat ride to Alpnachstad is Optional, my suggestion to all is that one should go for it because of its cynic beauty.
Unlike the Jungfraujoch , In summer The mount Pilatus will not covered with Ice. It is more of a rocky structure. But always carry your warm cloths and suns crème because it can be quite freezingout there. Apply your suns crème other wise you can become little more tan. In Alpnachstad, you will be issued with a Small Pilatus Ticket, which should bewith you during the rest of the trip.
After the trip, we came back and explored the city .The Lion Monument,The chapel Bridge, the Museg wall and The old City, all were very much near toOur Hotel.
We checked out early, and used our last leg of transfer ticket reach to Zurich H B.
Sinc eour flight was in the evening 4.00 P.M., we thought of taking a two hour Bustour of Zurichcity with English commentary, which started around 9.30 A.M.
Once again we used the Blue Box Facility to keep our Luggage. The city bus tour started just outside Zurich H B Rail station which cost us approximately 35Fracs per person. After the city tour we used the same transfer ticket to reachZurich Flughafen. (Airport Station) from Zurich H .B.
Tip. Always make sure you take the first City tour, because the next trip is after two hours only.
Wishing you a nice Trip