When and how to make reservations July/Aug trip

When and how to make reservations July/Aug trip

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maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
318 posts
top member
Feb 18, 2016 - 3:39 PM

Hello Arno and Annika,

Plans for this summer are well under way, flights, accommodation booked and Swiss Travel Passes ordered - we are now planning the details.

We will be in St. Moritz from July 12th to 19tth when we will transfer to Thun for a further three weeks. We know Bernese Oberland well so can plan that part of the holiday based on past experience but need some help with first week. We plan to take Glacier Express from St. Moritz to Brig en route to Thun - how soon can we make our reservations for this trip? We will have 1st class pass. We will have quite a bit of luggage - is there good space in first class? Can we have lunch without pre-booking it?

While in St. Moritz we would like to take Bernina Express to Tirano - there is BEX train at 9.30 a.m. for which we would need to make reservations - how soon can we do this? There is a regional train at 9.48 - is 1st class on this train likely to be very crowded if we choose that option instead? I have found return trains in the timetable so that isn't a problem.

However we do love bus journeys in Switzerland and are interested in taking the bus from Tirano to Lugano leaving at 14.20 and arriving at 17.30 but this also requires a reservation and I am not sure how and when we can do this. If we wait till we are in St. Moritz is that likely to be too late?

Getting back to St. Moritz from Lugano looks complicated! the only route I have found is to take a train at 18.19 from Lugano which arrives in Bellinzona at 18.47. Then we have to take a bus at 18.55 which arrives in Thusis at 20.25, then a train from Thusis to St. Moritz at 20.30 arriving at 22.03. The bus from Bellinzona also requires a reservation - how and when can we do this?

We don't usually need reservations for our trips around Bernese Oberland so are not used to having to decide dates for our excursions so far in advance which is why I was wondering about the Tirano and Lugano day. I don't mind reserving the Glacier Express in advance because that date is fixed already because of moving our base that day.

A further question if we make reservations online can we pay in GBP?

Thanks in advance,

Maggie

Arno
Arno
7696 posts
expert &
moderator
Feb 18, 2016 - 6:42 PM in reply to maggiehorswell

Hi Maggie,

It's really wonderful you will visit the Engadine area this time! I'm sure you'll like it. Trains can generally be booked 90 days ahead of time, through the links under "More on other websites" on our scenic train pages:

For payment in GBP, you can try through uk.voyages-sncf.com and www.acprail.com. They won't offer all reservations, but a few of them perhaps.

The bus from Bellinzona can be booked through www.postauto.ch/en/lei sure/chur%E2%80%93bell inzona-route. Personally I would find that day trip too long. This is what I would do:

  • One way Thun - St. Moritz. by Glacier Express via Brig and Chur.
  • The other way in two days: day one the Bernina Express until Lugano. Day two either the Wilhelm Tell Express route via Luzern or the scenic Centovalli line through Italy via Locarno, Domodossola and Brig.

Booking all seats when you're in Switzerland will likely work (biggest risk is the Glacier Express I guess), but no guarantees.

Trains across the Bernina Pass are pretty popular in Summer, but the trains you mentioned both start in St. Moritz. So getting a seat shouldn't be hard if you're at the station in time.

You can take along luggage, albeit not always close to your seat because of the panoramic windows. You can also have your luggage transported, which might be more convenient: myswissalps.com/train/ practical/luggage.

Last modified on Feb 18, 2016 - 6:45 PM by Arno
Wandermann
Wandermann
298 posts
top member
Feb 18, 2016 - 8:59 PM

Hi Maggie,

Visitors of this forum are mainly interested in the Bernese Oberland, the Luzern-region, Wallis and the Geneva-region, and that's great. Hardly ever they want to visit Graubünden and in my opinion that's a pity. .

Like you, we love the Bernese Oberland: after very many years it has become our second home, so to speak. Nevertheless I really love to read that you will be visiting Graubünden and the Ober Engadin this time as well.

We always went there by car and you won't have a car, right? Indeed, the Bernina Express and, most of all, the Glacier Express are exceptionally beautiful train rides. But you will have other days to spend?

If you have questions about day trips... don't hesitate to ask. I would like to add some thoughts for your itinerary.

Wandermann

maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
318 posts
top member
Feb 20, 2016 - 3:57 PM in reply to Arno

Hi Arno

Thank you for reply and suggestions.

We will definitely be taking GEX in the direction from St. Moritz to Brig as our holiday starts in St. Moritz. We will be landing in Zurich and travelling to St. Moritz from there. I have already found train times for that trip so no problem there. We will book reservations for GEX before we leave UK as this trip is essential. Can we have lunch on the train without booking it in advance? We could take along a packed lunch as our hotel offers that facility.

I know the Tirano and Lugano day is a long one and we will be travelling all day apart from a couple of hours in Tirano but are happy with that - we are in our 70's now and can't walk every day so like to take advantage of free travelling with our pass on some days to simply enjoy relaxing while enjoying scenic views. I was just wondering about the necessary reservations for the buses. I think we might go to the station in St. Moritz on our first morning and enquire about whether we can make these reservations then. If not we can just go to Tirano and forgo the bus ride. Getting to Lugano wasn't the main objective (we can actually do day trip there from Thun if we wish) -it was the bus ride that was the attraction.

Looking forward to our trip as ever.

Maggie

maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
318 posts
top member
Feb 20, 2016 - 4:28 PM in reply to Wandermann

Hi Wandermann, good to hear from you.

I remember from previous threads that you like Graubünden. We spent just a few days there on our first visit to Switzerland in 2001 and have been promising ourselves a return trip!

I have been doing some research - so many attractive options! This is what I have come up with so far. We won't have a car that's true but will have Swiss Travel Pass plus a local pass issued by the hotel which might save even more money!

1. Last time we had a very enjoyable day travelling the route from St. Moritz to Scuol-Tarasp - we made brief stops en route in Zuos and Zernez - we found the decorations on the houses in Scuol fascinating and the whole day was peaceful (no crowds!) and relaxing so plan to repeat the experience this time. Are there any other places worth a brief visit en route as alternatives to Zuos and Zernez?

2. visit Majola. I have found a route using buses to Sils/Segl Maria where we can walk down to the lake and take a short boat ride to Majola. We can spend some there before returning by buses.

3. There are choices to make over which high points to visit. Piz Nair, Piz Corvatsch and Diavolezza. Will use timetable to work out routes.

4. We could go back to Arosa and Weisshorn - one of our favourites - but this is not top priority as we can do that from Thun again - the journey time is shorter from St. Moritz and includes scenic route from St. Moritz to Chur but we will have travelled that route in opposite direction to get from Airport on arrival day.

5. We could fulfil a wish to visit Liechtenstein though again this is possible from Thun - a bit longer in travel time.

We want to make the most of our visit to Graubünden as it is a 50th Wedding Anniversary gift to ourselves to stay in a quality hotel right on the lakeside - an evening stroll by the lake beckons!

I have been looking for some easy walks - have to take our age and fitness levels into account these days so can't be too ambitious.

Best wishes

Maggie

2.

Last modified on Feb 20, 2016 - 4:30 PM by maggiehorswell
Wandermann
Wandermann
298 posts
top member
Feb 20, 2016 - 10:13 PM in reply to maggiehorswell

Hi Maggie

A lovely present you're giving eachother for your 50th Wedding Anniversary! Our congratulations with your Anniversary!

ad 2. From Maloja you can make a quite short and easy walk to the Tower Belvedere. From there you'll have beautiful views to the Maloja Pass, into Bergell to the South-West and to the Upper Engadine lakes to the Nort-East.

ad 3. I agree.

ad 4. Arosa and Weisshorn: hope to visit these impressive places in the future. No comment.

I think the walk through Val Bever will be perfect. Start from the train station in Bever, and walk, mainly on the left side of the railway track, towards Gasthaus Spinas, a very nice place to eat or drink something. On you way back consider taking the other, North-Eastern, side of the valley, through forests and meadows. At some places you have to climb a bit. My guess is, you'll manage. It's about 1 1/2 hours each way.

Another suggestion is: take the funicular from Punt Muragl to Muottas Muragl and walk from there to Alp Languard. At some parts you'll have to climb, but I think it is not too long and not too steep. (But check maps for yourself to be sure). There's a chairlift from Alp Languard to Pontresina.

Some years ago we made (for the second time) the walk from Murtel (intermediate station from Surlej to Corvatsch) via Fuorcla Surlej, into Val Roseg. From there the easy part of the walk to Pontresina starts. A very beautiful day trip. But again, check maps.

We are fond of quite an easy walk in the Eastern part of Switzerland. You'll have to go to Scuol, from there to Ramosch and Vnà (the timetable will help of course). From Vnà the very nice walk starts along the North-Eastern slope of Val Sinestra towards Zuort. There's a Restaurant, Hof Zuort, and nearby is the house of the conductor Mengelberg. It will be a long day but not a strenuous walk.

An easy walk is from Pontresina to St Moritz (v.v). It's going up and down a bit, through meadows and woodland and along the lake Lej da Staz.

Go by train to Morteratsch station and from there walk to the glacier and back. Very beautiful but shocking how much the glacier has shrunken over the past and many years.

Maybe there's something of your taste here?

Enjoy your preparations,

Wandermann

Last modified on Feb 20, 2016 - 10:34 PM by Wandermann
maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
318 posts
top member
Feb 21, 2016 - 1:52 AM in reply to Wandermann

Hi Wandermann

Some great suggestions there - thank you so much. I will check out the timetable for access to those walks and also a map to get an idea of ascent and descent profiles - easier to go down than up these days, sadly.

preparation and planning is part of the fun, especially during dark winter days to look forward to the summer!

Best wishes and thanks again,

Maggie

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2641 posts
expert
Feb 21, 2016 - 2:45 PM in reply to Wandermann

Hi Wandermann-

I'll put in a vote...or several... for the lower Engadine.

Even with the Vereina tunnel, the region is not so overrun with tourists as the upper Engadine.

A bus from Scuol to Ftan, a walk to Ardez and Ardez Station, train back to Scuol is an easy and senic walk.

So is the walk from Motta Naluns avove Scuol ( go up on the lift near the train station) to Ftan Prui, lift down to Ftan, bus to Scuol.

We really have liked the Hotel Piz Buin in Guarda. The Rubi's were wonderful hosts. They have new management this year, but I'd certainly go there again because of the location.

A car would be useful, but is not critical, except perhaps for luggage the last couple of hundred meters.

Slowpoke

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2641 posts
expert
Feb 21, 2016 - 2:48 PM in reply to Wandermann

<<"Another suggestion is: take the funicular from Punt Muragl to Muottas Muragl and walk from there to Alp Languard. At some parts you'll have toclimb, but I think it is not too long and not too steep. (But check maps for yourself to be sure). There's a chairlift from Alp Languard to Pontresina.">>

That is one of the most scenic walks in Switzerand, including the view of the chain of lakes from Muottas Muragl, towards Sils, also Val Roseg, the Bernina Alps...

Slowpoke

Last modified on Feb 21, 2016 - 3:23 PM by Slowpoke
maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
318 posts
top member
Feb 21, 2016 - 3:04 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Hi Slowpoke

Thanks for your additional input. Really looking forward to the variation to our usual trip this year!

Maggie

maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
318 posts
top member
Feb 24, 2016 - 12:40 AM in reply to Wandermann

Hello again Wandermann

I have been doing some research following your suggestions and have succeeded in finding travel links for almost all of them. Just one query - if we do the walk you suggested to Zuort (that restaurant looks amazing from its website!) do we then walk back the way we came to get back as there is no transport from Zuort?

t's going to be exciting doing all these different things that first week, if impossible to fit everything in!

Best wishes

Maggie

Wandermann
Wandermann
298 posts
top member
Feb 24, 2016 - 9:17 AM in reply to maggiehorswell

Hello Maggie,

Nice to read you are looking if one or more of my suggestions can make their way into your itinerary.

We have made the walk from Vnà to Zuort twice and both times we walked the same roads back to Vnà. In this way it is a rather easy walk. For your information (bus departure from Vnà): Vnà - Zuort takes about the same time as Zuort - Vnà.

I remember that there are footpaths from Zuort down through Val Sinestra, more or less following river La Branca, in the direction of Ramosch. But even studying a good map I can't advice you about these paths, except for the fact that it would be a longer and less easy.

Best wishes,

Wandermann

Last modified on Feb 24, 2016 - 9:20 AM by Wandermann
maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
318 posts
top member
Feb 24, 2016 - 11:48 AM in reply to Wandermann

Thanks for your advice, Wandermann

I think we will do that - walk back along same route to Vna. We just need the weather to cooperate so we can do some of these excursions!

I take my laptop with me on holiday! I have a memory stick on which I store details of all the possible day trips with travel details and each evening we check next day's weather forecast, decide where to go and I write the train times we need in a little notebook to take with me in my camera bag! It means we can be flexible and just plan each day as it comes and I always have more ideas than there are days to fulfil them!

We have a few favourite places we go to most years in the Bernese Oberland (Allmendhubel is one of them) but we always manage to go somewhere new each year as we like to explore the less touristy places.

Best wishes

Maggie

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