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2nd Trip - 18 days Switzerland Dec 2018 - part 1


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longservice
longservice
35 posts
active member
Dec 22, 2018 - 11:23 PM

Our 2nd - 18 Days in Switzerland Dec 2018- Part 01

3 nights Zurich

2 nights Bern

4 nights Montreux

4 nights Interlaken

5 nights Luzern

“I have edited quite a lot of video and many many photos, and every time we look at them, we eventually end up discussing whether we should from here ever after, simply abandon all other destinations on our fascinating planet and just keep returning to Switzerland”

These were words I wrote in my last trip report in 2017 (see - 18 day trip to Switzerland December 2017) So it’s not surprising really that when my second half of long service leave came due this year in 2018, we found ourselves once again touching down in Switzerland for a second 18 day dose of this beautiful country.

Feeling somewhat empowered a little by experiences gained from our last trip, I spent a large part of my free evenings during 2018 doing additional research, trying to build on what we had already learned, booking some of the same hotels we enjoyed from our previous trip and tossing in a few new alternatives as well. The main idea was to visit places we hadn’t quite had the time to get to previously and to also visit a couple of new cities as well.

Having begun in Geneva last time, we opted for a change and began this holiday with three nights in Zurich. Allowing some time to recover from jetlag, we took things pretty easy for the first two days visiting the Christmas markets at Bellevue, Doerfli and the main train station, as well as just generally taking in the sights of the beautiful cobbled streets in the Old Town. We had chosen a Hotel close to the train station as we usually do, and with a tram stop right outside the hotel complete with ticket machine, we purchased a 24hr ticket (only twice the cost of a single ride) and used the tram to get back up the hill to our Hotel as we needed.

When at Zurich airport, (love this airport) one of the first things we did was upload some more credit to the Salt sim we had purchased the year before as it had not yet expired. However there was a couple of puzzling things about the sim this time that just didn’t make any sense. Firstly, it would not send SMS messages to certain numbers back in Australia. So the following day we went to the Salt store and explained the problem. The lovely lady at the counter was incredibly patient trying every possible thing she could to make it work even using her own phone to try the same numbers and trying different settings. She tried a new sim, she tried getting further advice from her peers, checked the numbers were the correct formula etc, but in the end we agreed to just live with it and work around it as there just didn’t seem to be a solution anyone could find. Despite the lack of a resolution, I am certain the lady at the counter did everything she could and genuinely felt bad for us that we weren’t getting the results we should have using SMS. The second interesting thing was that last year we could not use the phone as a hotspot, and that had also been made clear to us by the seller at the time as being a restriction on the deal. But for whatever reason this time, it worked perfectly as a hotspot every time. Same phone, same sim, same plan, same phone number but even Salt couldn’t figure out why it was different this time. Despite the odd differences, I still think the Salt sim remains one of our most economical purchases in Switzerland with the same excellent internet coverage everywhere we went. At 1.99CHF per day for unlimited full speed 4G network internet surfing, it is certainly an ideal solution for a short term stay.

We enjoyed the Doerfli Christmas markets as well as the ones at Bellevue and the main Train Station and purchased a few small Christmas tree hanging articles to take back home.

The weather was fairly cloudy with the occasional bit of rain our first couple of days, but the reports were that on our third day the sun would be out and the cloud disappearing. So we decided to take advantage of this, and as this was the date we had set for our 15 day Swiss Travel Pass to kick in, we caught the 8:07am train to the Rhine Falls. We had already visited these falls many years before whilst on a bus tour of Europe, but had been given about an hour to view them from only one side of the river, and as is often the case with tours, we were under pressure to be back on the bus as soon as possible leaving us disappointed that we hadn’t the chance to explore the place just that little bit more. What a pleasure it was to be able to do this at our leisure this time. Arriving at the Neuhausen Rheinfall station from Zurich, we took the elevator down and followed the path to the waters edge. One of the great things about visiting Switzerland in December (I can only assume), is that the crowds are low in numbers and from a photographers point of view, this often makes for greater photo opportunities, without as many pesky tourists like myself always getting in the way of a good shot…!!

From the Neuhausen side of the falls we decided to make the walk to the other side, climbing the steps and following the path that leads to the rail bridge and on to the Schloss Laufen side. The walk does contain some very steep steps in part, but the path itself is in good condition, well signposted and offers a variety of different perspectives of the falls from different vantage points as you go. My wife and I are both pushing close to 60 now and yet managed it without any difficulty, however we did both stop a few times on the steps to catch our breath. If you are a photographer I would definitely recommend the walk.

Before heading away this year, I decided it would be great to try and add something different to my video footage and decided to purchase a GoPro to see if I could catch a different perspective on things that I could edit in later. So with the GoPro attached to a Back Pack clamp, I was able to record much of our walk as we moved from one side to the other and took some great close-up footage of the falls themselves once we went down to the bottom on the Schloss Laufen side. I have discovered when editing video that you really only need 3-4 seconds of footage at various angles to splice into your final cut and the GoPro proved to be a fantastic addition. These cameras are so small with a very wide field of view, and the latest models have such incredible stabilisation, and so with it securely clamped to my back pack strap, it sat flat against my chest and pretty much gave the equivalent view of what my eyes were seeing while still keeping my hands free to take pictures/video with my DSLR. The result has been some excellent footage that I have been able to edit in to my videos, making great memories for many years to come. It was so successful in fact that I found myself using it over and over when travelling in trains, cable cars, gondolas and even when walking about the Christmas markets. One time when we were at First, I attempted to see if I could make a hundred metres or so on the Cliff Walk even though it was in blizzard conditions, and I was able to keep filming even while holding firmly with one hand on the side rail and using my other hand to cover my face to protect myself from the stinging sleet and snow that eventually got too strong and overpowered me. I didn’t get as far as I would have liked, due to the wind and the freezing temperatures, and common sense of course made me turn back, but it made for some great video…!! Another thing I found it especially useful for was filming out the window when travelling on trains. Because the lens itself is of such small form factor, you can if desired, literally press it right up against a clean part of the train window and heavily reduce any window reflection.

It costs 5 CHF to get into the castle grounds on the Schloss Laufen side and to make your way down the many steps to the base of the falls. There are many vantage points along the descent where you can get great views and photos. While it may not be quite Niagara Falls, the Rhine falls in my opinion are still very impressive in their own way, especially when you can get right up close and listen to the deafening roar of the water cascading but a few feet in front of you.

After being satisfied that we had seen all we wanted to see, we made our way to the Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall train station to catch the train into Schaffhausen to visit the Old Town. This actually caught me by surprise somewhat because somehow in my research I had not come to know that Schaffhausen had such a beautiful Old Town, and this was made all the more worthwhile from our point of view as the Christmas markets and celebrations were in full swing.

From Schaffhausen, we journeyed back to Zurich. But not without first visiting another lovely Old Town…… that of Stein am Rhein, a place I would not even have probably considered had I not been informed of it’s beauty via My Swiss Alps. The walk from the train station into the Old Town of Stein am Rhein is all down-hill and was very pleasant and easy going. Of course walking back to the station was all up-hill, but we took our time and it really only took about 15 minutes at most. The frescoes in the Old Town are extremely beautiful and impressive, the cobbled main street with its Christmas decorations a real treat. There was very little open excepting a few souvenir shops and restaurants, I guess mainly because we were there on a Saturday, but overall I think if you enjoy old architecture and art, it is a very worthwhile little place to visit, and I think not too far out of ones way if making a round trip from Zurich to the Rhine Falls and back.

I will attempt to post more in the days to come…… I do apologise if my style of writing is a bit drawn out and lacking in finer detail.

A few pics attached.

Kind Regards

Longservice

Part 2

Attachments
Lucas
Lucas
10495 posts
top member
Dec 23, 2018 - 9:23 AM in reply to longservice

Hi Longservice and thanks for the trip report!

Lovely photos as well - Stein am Rhein is a little overlooked but such a nice day trip from Zurich!

PS What is is long service leave? Extra holidays?

Last modified on Dec 23, 2018 - 9:26 AM by Lucas
longservice
longservice
35 posts
active member
Dec 24, 2018 - 12:15 AM in reply to Lucas

Hi Lucas,

Yes you are correct.... In Australia - long service is additional paid holidays granted to full time employees after continuous service with the same employer for a period of 10 years. The rules vary slightly from state to state but in Western Australia it is 8 2/3 weeks pay after 10 years of continuous service. In my case this = 325 hours. It is also paid out pro rata after 7 years if you should terminate your employment or your employer terminates your employment, after you have been employed 7 years continuous. However if you remain employed beyond 7 years you cannot access those holidays or funds until you have been employed 10 years. There are also rules on how and when you can take those extra days. For example in my case, I cannot take them one day at a time, but must take a minimum of two weeks at any single time. Also by law, once the long service period has been reached, an employer does not have to grant you permission for leave in the first year, but once 12 months has passed, the employer cannot prevent you from taking them as and when you wish. However in almost all cases of course, this is usually worked out amicably between you and your employer. In my case, I split my accrued long service over a 2 year period, which is why we took time off to go to Switzerland last year and then again this year. Sound too good to be true? Yes it is. Australia has some of the best employee benefits in the world. It makes for a great work/life balance and in my opinion is highly taken for granted by most Australians. A second lot of long service is granted at the 15 year mark also, of 4 1/3 weeks. We have no idea how good we have it. I hope this make sense....

Kind Regards

Longservice.

Lucas
Lucas
10495 posts
top member
Dec 24, 2018 - 8:58 AM in reply to longservice

Yes I am indeed jealous! The holiday benefits in Europe are great compared to Canada - amazing really but I think you have everyone beat!

No wonder I am always bumping into traveling Australians wherever I go! :)

maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
701 posts
top member
Dec 25, 2018 - 5:06 PM

Hello longservice

Now I understand your username! Nice report and interesting details and tips. Like your photos too. I enjoy taking photographs but use much simpler equipment! A decent digital camera with good zoom facility and macro settings - pretty simple to use and get satisfactory results. I admit though that I get a bit frustrated with window reflections - you seem to have found the way to combat this.

Looking forward to reading further reports.

Maggie

longservice
longservice
35 posts
active member
Dec 26, 2018 - 4:07 AM in reply to maggiehorswell

Thank you Maggie,

I am by no means a great photographer, but I do find enjoyment in it and I do find that photos offer a great way of continuing to recall memories of places we have been. I once lost about 5 years of digital photos I had taken due to poor management on my part, after a irreversible hard drive failure for which I had no backup.... It still remains a painful memory for me when I think about it. Needless to say I now have serious backups of everything both at home and also when we travel, such is the importance to us of the enjoyment we get from our photos and video.

Kind Regards

Longservice.

maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
701 posts
top member
Dec 28, 2018 - 4:07 PM

Hi longservice

Indeed serious backups are the way to go! I have the original cards I used in the camera! I upload to a USB stick while travelling then transfer in Jpg format to a portable hard drive (so that I can view via my TV then transfer to another hard drive in Tiff format! I once had a card malfunction when trying to upload a few days' worth of photos (particularly annoying as I had captured some good shots of the bears in Bern) so I put a new card in the camera. When I got home I took the offending card to my computer shop and asked if they could rescue anything. Fortunately they managed to retrieve all except about 3 of the photos on the card for me including my precious bear pictures! A happy outcome.

By the way I am loving your ramblings so keep them coming!

Maggie

Adelaidean
Adelaidean
121 posts
active member
Jan 5, 2019 - 12:20 PM

Lucas, I have 6 months of long service leave accumulated 😀😀😀 ...but isn't easy in my workplace to get a block of time off approved. Many workplaces have limits to how much one person can take per year (in our case, usually 2 weeks of long service leave, plus we get 4 weeks of annual leave per year and 3 days of retention leave - which is just extra long service leave that has to be taken within a set timeframe).

So Switzerland here we come in June (4 weeks!)

Maggie, I transfer my photos onto my ipad and Flickr every day when travelling - my photos are precious memories too.

Nice photos, longservice, haven't included Stein am Rhein in my upcoming trip, maybe another time.

Lucas
Lucas
10495 posts
top member
Jan 5, 2019 - 3:40 PM in reply to Adelaidean

Wow - 6 months... I need to get a job in Australia apparently.

rockoyster
rockoyster
8888 posts
expert
Jan 9, 2019 - 7:00 AM in reply to longservice

Hi LSL,

Just started on your latest report. I enjoyed your reports from your previous trip so looking forward to reading the next couple of chapters. Great photos. Do you post your videos anywhere?

Agree with you on the Salt SIM. We used on in 2017 and had no problems using it as a hotspot. Rather than SMS we used WhatsApp to communicate with folks back on Oz and rels in Germany.

myat
myat
22 posts
new member
Mar 16, 2019 - 10:43 AM in reply to longservice

Hi Longservice,

May I know how long you spent for this trip from Zurich to Rheinfall and back to Zurich?

And thanks for your beautiful photos too.

Myat

Arno
Arno
15676 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 19, 2019 - 6:23 PM in reply to myat

Hi Myat,

You'll find that information here: www.myswissalps.com/rh inefalls/gettingthere.

myat
myat
22 posts
new member
Mar 19, 2019 - 10:35 PM

Hi Arno,

Thanks for the link. It does help.

myat

Thereads31
Thereads31
1 post
new member
Apr 29, 2019 - 9:17 PM in reply to longservice

Hi,

We are from Sydney and are just planning our trip for December and early January. I was wondering how you found the weather/cold? Any tips for buying jackets and shoes? I keep wondering whether we’ll be able to buy the most appropriate footwear and jackets here, or wait til we get there. Thoughts?

rockoyster
rockoyster
8888 posts
expert
Apr 29, 2019 - 9:26 PM in reply to Thereads31

Hello TheReads31 and Welcome to MySwissAlps

I’d suggest you start a new thread in order to get a broader range of targeted responses to your questions. This is an great but old thread with limited readership.

You’ll have no problem buying suitable gear at places like Katmandhu for example. It will be cold compared to Sydney but not much colder than Thredbo in the dead of winter. See www.myswissalps.com/we ather.

Singhniraml1
Singhniraml1
1 post
new member
Apr 30, 2019 - 12:51 PM

I'm Planning to visit Switzerland after my mid terms. Your trip details excites me for whats to come.

vanessateoh
vanessateoh
5 posts
new member
Jul 16, 2019 - 2:33 PM in reply to longservice

Hi Longservice

I chanced upon Myswissalps today and read your December Switzerland report. I am in the primary stage of planning a 12 nights in Switzerland. I like the way you choose your hotel and do you mind sharing the name of the hotels you stayed in Zurich, Interlaken, Bern, Zermatt and St Mortiz for my planning considerations.

Thank you.

Vanessa

Arno
Arno
15676 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 17, 2019 - 6:36 AM in reply to vanessateoh
Judy52
Judy52
131 posts
active member
Aug 7, 2019 - 8:18 AM in reply to longservice

Hi Longservice

Are you ever going to finish your trip report? As a fellow lover of Switzerland, I’ve enjoyed reading it so far and would love to read the rest.

Judy

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