PART 1: From Zurich to Beatenberg (via Lucerne & Interlaken Ost)
Apologies for such a late trip report - we were so busy after we returned from our 1st trip to Switzerland in 2012 and just didn't get down to sharing after that. Now that I have more time and am also planning for our return in 2017 June, this is a good opportunity to share some aspects of our 1st trip especially photos.
Please note that all the experiences in this trip report were for 2012 - so I am not sure if quite a bit has changed since then. I know the Swiss Saver 4D Flexi Pass we used has been replaced so please do your own homework for the latest transport options etc. My memory is a little rusty so I will try to do my best to share what I can recall.
We flew from Singapore by Singapore Airlines, arriving at Zurich airport at 8am, 18 Sept 2012. As we were able to validate our passes from home since we ordered them online, it saved us a great deal of time. After clearing customs (a breeze, without any cards to fill) and taking the sky train to collect our luggage, we headed for the airport foyer to get our prepaid simcard at the telco shop.
We decided to take the train from Zurich Airport to Interlaken Ost via the Lucerne. It's true that the trip is a more scenic alternative to the one that goes through Bern. We had our first treat of the picture postcard views from the window especially from Lucerne to Interlaken West.
TIP: We had 2nd class Swiss Passes and it was a breeze being able to just hop on and off anytime we wanted on the trains. However, after the experience in 2012, we have decided to opt for 1st class because we did have some problems finding 3 seats together on the more popular routes and luggage space was sometimes a problem, even on non peak hours. Good thing we brought along a long thin wired lock (similar to bicycle locks) that we could string through our bags to ensure no one took off with them. Sometimes our seats were a little too far to keep an eye on all the bags in the front or back (we don't use the luggage delivery service as we prefer to have our bags with us). So we are going to save ourselves all the hassle and go 1st class the next time.
From Interlaken West train station, we boarded bus No.101 to BEATENBERG HUBEL bus stop. It was a 25min ride with beautiful views on the way up. We stayed at Hotel Gloria which had unobstructed views of Lake Brienz and in the evening, there was a beautiful pinkish hue on the horizon before sunset. Absolutely beautiful. (see photo).
We usually take our time to soak in the atmosphere of the place we visit and hate rushing around. Hence, having several days based in Beatenberg gave us time to rest after a long flight and to take it easy before heading for the Jungfrau region.
September is the time when they bring the cattle down from the higher pastures. Hence, we were delighted when there was a "beauty parade" of the Beatenberg cows (yes the moo moo type :)) as they passed by our hotel, with the cowbells announcing their arrival as they walked past. Wow they are huge and look so healthy!
The Niederhorn cablecar station was only a lovely short walk from the hotel in Beatenberg and we enjoyed the views from the top. It wasn't crowded and so we had lots of space to walk around and just soak in the fresh air and surrounding alps.
On another day we took the tram down to Lake Thun, spending about 4hrs walking around before stopping at a cafe to enjoy a snack. The lakes are so so clean and they sparkle in the sunlight as the rays hit the waters.
We also took the bus down from Beatenberg to Interlaken and then the train to the little woodcarving town of Brienz.
Brienz is a quaint little town with a woodcarving "museum" worth visiting if you are in the area. The carving especially of the St. Bernard "family" is so life like (see photo). We enjoyed pleasant strolls in the area where we could see Lake Brienz as well. The whole town can probably be done in about 3hrs - depending on how fast you want to walk around.
Photos can do a much better job at describing the places we visited so please take time to see all the photos I have attached in this report as you will get a better "feel" of the real we visited. (You will need to log in as a member to view photos on this website).
Part 2 will be on Wengen and Jungfrau.