3 Slow weeks in Switzerland in October

3 Slow weeks in Switzerland in October

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Posts: 34
FallTravel
FallTravel
11 posts
new member
Apr 30, 2018 - 9:40 PM

Hello All,

I am having trouble coming up with an itinerary for 3 weeks this fall. I will be travelling with a fit, healthy 82yr old. Top of our list are the Switzerland scenic rail trips. It is best for us to select a few different towns to use as a home base for 3 or 4 days so as to cut down on travelling with luggage.

We would like to fly into a city in Germany to begin our trip. The last leg of our journey will end in Basel.

I would appreciate any suggestions for keeping the trip as relaxed as possible considering the age of my travel companion. Any suggestion for an itinerary would be most appreciated. I have been struggling since January to identify possible home base towns/cities.

Many Thanks!

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4485 posts
expert
Apr 30, 2018 - 11:01 PM in reply to FallTravel

Hi FallTravel -

<<"<<" itinerary for 3 weeks this fall. ">>

When in the Fall? It can make a difference in the Alps.

<<" a fit, healthy 82yr old.">>

What does "fit" mean? Walk 5 miles every day? Expect to take walks or easy hikes of xxx km or xxhours on suitable terrain?

<<"Top of our list are the Switzerland scenic rail trips.">> Certainly a good idea.

www.sbb.ch/en/leisure-holidays/travel-in-switzerland/panoramare isen.html

This MySwissAlps website has very good practical information on the scenic routes. Use the search box and enter the name...for example, Gotthard Panorama Express. You'll get a lot of useful information.

<<"It is best for us to select a few different towns to use as a home base for 3 or 4 days so as to cut down on travelling with luggage. ">> Generally a good idea in any case.

That should give time for walking around the old towns and seeing the sights in a few cities. Will city walking be a part of the trip? For instance, the tram and bus network in Zürich is superb, and gets you close to most parts of the city very easily and quickly. Lake boat travel on Lake Lucerne is relaxing and wonderfully scenic.

My experience with Lausanne, in contrast to Zürich or Luzern ( local German spelling), has more hill-climbing. I suspect and hope that Peterli will offer some comments on that....did I not use the buses properly?

Must you be near the (or a) train station ....100 meters? or will you walk a half or full km. with no complaints?

<<"We would like to fly into a city in Germany to begin our trip. The last leg of our journey will end in Basel.">>

For my money, Basel is a German city of sorts. I'm partly joking, but , in comparison to other Swiss cities in the German speaking regions, for some reason I feel like I'm in Germany when I 'm in Basel.

However, why not make it easy on your self at the beginning of the trip? Fly into Zürich.. You could pretend it is German. ;-)

<<"I would appreciate any suggestions for keeping the trip as relaxed as possible considering the age of my travel companion. Any suggestion for an itinerary would be most appreciated. I have been struggling since January to identify possible home base towns/cities.">>

Age does not matter as much as health ( fitness, as you mention) and interests. Museums? Art, history?

Scenery other than on the named panoramic train routes? Good restaurants? A ny food preferences? Countryside or all cities and trains?

The rail network in Switzerland allows fast and frequent connections to various parts of the country. Although it is convenient to set up some kind of circular route, or a route without backtracking it is not critically necessary to do that.

Day trips from a base can work well.

If you want o play with some ideas, use the time table:

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

and a map:

map.search.ch/

Many other maps work well, too, but I like this one because the train lines really stand out once you zoom in to zoom level 32.

And, in the menus, under Points of Interest/Traffic, you can make the station stops appear on the maps.

map.search.ch/?pos=746784,254748&z=12 8&poi=haltestelle,zug

There is a lot of information about cities and regions here:

www.myswissalps.com/wh eretogo

Look it over. You really can take your pick. The transportation is ready for you. You could almost name 5 cities at random, and it would work, but it is better to tell us a bit more about personal interests.

Do either of you speak or read any French or German or Italian? Not needed, but nice to have in different parts of the country..

Slowpoke

Last modified on May 1, 2018 - 9:25 AM by Chantal
Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
2112 posts
top member
May 1, 2018 - 12:10 AM in reply to FallTravel

If you plan on incorporating scenic train trips into your itinerary, your overnight stops should be chosen with those routes and travel times in mind. There is a map of the panoramic routes to help with your planning: it is attached to the map showing where the Swiss Travel Pass is valid, and you can download it from the following page:

www.myswissalps.com/sw isstravelpass/validity

Approximate travel times for the scenic routes (one way) are as follows:

  • Golden Pass Line (part) from Luzern to Interlaken Ost: almost 2 hours
  • Golden Pass line (part) from Interlaken Ost to Montreux: 3 hours
  • Palm Express (PostBus) from Lugano to St Moritz: almost 4 hours
  • Voralpen-Express from Luzern to St. Gallen: 2.25 hours
  • RegioExpress Lötschberger (full) from Bern to Brig: 1.75 hours
  • RegioExpress Lötschberger (part) from Spiez to Brig: Just over 1 hour
  • Centovalli Railway from Locarno to Domodossola: 1.75 hours

If you want to calculate travel time for short sectors along these routes, you can use the Swiss Timetable:

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

(Use the one on the right with the red SBB logo.)

There are also some scenic PostBus trips that might interest you if you are in the right area and are there before these routes close for the winter:

Vierpässefahrt (Four Passes Trip) through four passes of the Central Alps (from Meiringen)

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/postbus-through-four-passes-of-the-central-alps

Grindelwald to Meiringen over the Grosse Scheidegg

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/trip-report-over-the-grosse-scheidegg-by-bus

PostBus over the Flüela Pass (in the Engadin)

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/trip-report-postbus-over-the-fluela-pass

Alpenrose

Last modified on May 1, 2018 - 9:28 AM by Chantal
rockoyster
rockoyster
3345 posts
expert
May 1, 2018 - 12:11 AM in reply to FallTravel

Can you make it in September. The weather can go downhill rapidly in October

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4485 posts
expert
May 1, 2018 - 12:40 AM in reply to rockoyster

Good question. I did not find that they plan to travel in October...

And, October is great for many activities a lower altitudes.

Slowpoke

Last modified on May 1, 2018 - 12:43 AM by Slowpoke
rockoyster
rockoyster
3345 posts
expert
May 1, 2018 - 1:04 AM in reply to Slowpoke

They reposted the thread with "October 2018" in the title. 😎

Alpenrose spotted the duplicate.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4485 posts
expert
May 1, 2018 - 1:10 AM in reply to rockoyster

Nice that you guys are paying attention. even if the poster is not. ;-(

Slowpoke

rockoyster
rockoyster
3345 posts
expert
May 1, 2018 - 1:19 AM in reply to FallTravel

I flew in to Frankfurt. An easy and quick ICE train trip to Basel.

My suggestions:

rockoyster
rockoyster
3345 posts
expert
May 1, 2018 - 4:07 AM in reply to Slowpoke

I forgot to mention the last day the Glacier Express and Gotthard Panorama Express trains run is 14 October. Another good reason to move your trip forward a bit.

Last modified on May 1, 2018 - 4:08 AM by rockoyster
Gunzel
Gunzel
10 posts
new member
May 1, 2018 - 4:32 AM

I agree with the suggestion of having "bases" from where you can do different day trips.

Swiss public transport runs to time. At the larger stations there are connections of a few minutes that are guaranteed and feasible. But for older folk it might be worth aiming to catch the following train.

Because, say if you've got seven or eight minutes to change trains; it may be a simple across the platform connection or you may have to transfer to another platform some distance away. The seven or eight minutes can be consumed very quickly especially if there are crowds and you're carrying luggage.

Most services run to at least an hourly frequency. So instead of a possibly rushed seven or eight minutes you could take your time and make it 67 or 68 minutes. Time to have a cup of coffee, visit the lavatory and enjoy the surrounding scenery?

When thinking of your "bases" perhaps consider smaller locations rather than big cities. Then you're likely to get good accommodation within walking distance of the local station.

Also consider some of the smaller and less well known (to international visitors at least) tourist trips. You may find more local transport passes (e.g. the Tellpass) offer better value and give you more opportunities Especially if you plan to spend some time in the area concerned.

Enjoy your travels and it would be good to see a report of your adventures once you're "back home".

Paul in Australia

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4485 posts
expert
May 1, 2018 - 9:07 AM in reply to Gunzel

Hi Paul-

Your thoughtful comment about smaller stations is a good idea. If I were doing that, I'd spend some time with a map. Many maps show accommodations. Although it is not always complete, Mapsearch.ch -linked above - allows you to turn on "Accommodations" in the menu. For some peculiar reason, that choice is listed under "Points of Interest/Gastronomy." I use it for a start on locations, before I look up hotel ratings.

The time to change trains is one reason that I was seeking a clearer understanding of the traveler's fitness. I have sore knees and sometimes large bags, with wheels, and usually can make the connections with time to spare. But,it can be a bit of a rush.

By the way, a fellow Aussie, who possibly is even more "down under" than you might be, Rockoyster (from Tasmania) pointed out that Google Maps now shows platform and track numbers at most stations.

The SBB timetable shows track numbers for arrival and departure trains. So, it is possible to make a judgement ahead of time on just how hard the transfer will be. Zürich main station is more complex that any other....multiple levels and Google Maps cannot handle it. However , a search of the SBB website for "Trafimage Maps" gets that one ( and many other larger stations).

Also, on many routes from between major cities, the service has become twice per hour for the fast trains.

So, the delay might only be around 30 minutes if the next connection is chosen.

Slowpoke

Last modified on May 1, 2018 - 9:10 AM by Slowpoke
FallTravel
FallTravel
11 posts
new member
May 1, 2018 - 2:21 PM

Thank you everyone!

Your thoughtful and most thorough replies are most appreciated. It may take me a bit to get through all the responses and reply but I will indeed be considering each and every generous comment.

P.S. My apologies, I am new to posting and accidentally placed my question in the “miscellaneous “ section by accident. Thus the dual posting of my question.

Cheers!

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4485 posts
expert
May 1, 2018 - 3:04 PM in reply to FallTravel

<<"P.S. My apologies, I am new to posting and accidentally placed my

question in the “miscellaneous “ section by accident. Thus the dual

posting of my question.">>

Actually, that is where it belongs, but once we got started on replies, we have continued here.

Slowpoke

FallTravel
FallTravel
11 posts
new member
May 1, 2018 - 3:10 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Hello Slowpoke,

Thank You! for responding so quickly and thoroughly. I will try to address all your questions/concerns. If I miss something that helps with your suggestions please let me know.

We will be travelling in October we are flexible as to start date but it cannot be prior to October 1st.

Healthy 82? Yes, it’s true - still skis Whistler daily (December to April). Walks 2 - 4 hours / day in spring, summer and fall ( not so much steep climbs any more ) .

Yes, walking will be a big part of this trip. Distances is not an issue

LoL, we are German, fluent in German, French , English with an ability to get by in Italian.

interests:

Railway geek here - it’s in my blood ( my great, great ,great grand father was an engineer in the days when the engineer’s home was by the tracks and he was responsible for stoking the coal to keep he engine burning overnight) Every generation since him has had a railway employee ending with me an engineering analyst).

Scenery, food, exploring small old towns, museums , art and music.

I think the reason I am at a loss as to where to start is I have not yet found a map that is helpful to me.

I look forward to investigating your map suggestions as well as others’ map suggestions.

Looking forward to running things by everyone here for input.

Cheers!

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4485 posts
expert
May 1, 2018 - 4:31 PM in reply to FallTravel

Hi FallTravel-

Perhaps you can add "Grüetzi" to your language skill set. It will be handy. You can find quite a few lower Allemanic dialects in Switzerland, as well as variants on Standard German. There is at least one village in Southeast Switzerland that uses the Bavarian dialect by official choice, while all the others around then use variants of Romansch.

You can surely have some fun with he languages/dialects.

Here I am asking the Wirtin at one of my favorite inns about doing some Laundry for me last Spring-

Liäbi Frou Mettler-

Heit Eer ächt am Metwoch Wöschtaag? 17 Mai?

I had a friend compose that for fun....I have essentially no knowledge of Bärndütsch.

Lots to answer after your thoughtful reply. I'm sure that I'll miss some ideas, but there is a lot of knowledgeable support on this forum.

In random order -

<<"Railway geek here - it’s in my blood ( my great, great ,great grand

father was an engineer in the days when the engineer’s home was by the

tracks and he was responsible for stoking the coal to keep he engine

burning overnight) Every generation since him has had a railway employee

ending with me an engineering analyst).">>

My go- to book for Swiss Rail is out of print but still available for a pittance on Amazon:

smile.amazon.com/Switz erland-BRADT-GUIDES-Anthony-Lambert/dp/1564407012/ ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1525189080 &sr=8-1&keywords=Anthony+Lam bert+Switzerland+by+Ra il

ISBN-1-56440-701-2

Anthony Lambert, Switzerland by Rail, 1996.

It's a treasure.

Helps you find all the meter gauge lines, which lines use the Riggenbach rack system, meter gauge (common); 80 cm continuous rack (Riggenbach) on the Schynige Platte Bahn, with a very scenic circular walk or two at the top; the 1,2 meter gauge on the Rheineck-Walzenhausen Bahn, and the surprising gravity traction on the Bernina Pass line which, by rights, ought to use a rack.; Liestal-Waldenburg Bahn- 75 cm. gauge.

There are some nice rail trails.

The one that I hike most often is described in this link:www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/bls-sudrampe-trail

He'll have no problem withit, and October would be good because that side of the Rhonetal gets a lot of sun and is really hot in the Summer. And, the original tran-Alpine Lötschbergline, whic runs beside that trail, now has a dedicated train - the Lötschberger. Pick it up at Bern or Spiez, for example, and it makes every stop on the Südrampe. For a socalled "Express" it is actually a local on the good parts.

blog.rail.cc/lotschber g-railway/

www.switzerlandbyrail. com/trains/scenic/lots chberger_express.htm

That latter site might be of interest, too.

Maps-

1.- I use Mapsearch.ch to start, as noted above. It has a major deficiency...no altitudes. But, it is easy, fast, and gives you all exact station names as you turn on the icons for train/bus stops.

2.-Schweizmobil - All non-motorized transport:

www.schweizmobil.ch/en /summer.html

www.schweizmobil.ch/en /wanderland/hiking-in-switzerland.html

Well down in this thread, on April 29th, is a detailed example of what Scheiz Mobil can do:www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/day-trips-from-bern-july

3.- the most professional map:

map.geo.admin.ch/?topic=ech&lang=en&bgLa yer=ch.swisstopo.pixel karte-farbe&layers=ch.bav.ha ltestellen-oev,ch.swisstopo.swiss tlm3d-wanderwege&E=2633399.0 5&N=1167440.42&zoom=6

I have turned on hikingtrails and transport stops.

The tail color cosing scheme is described here:

www.alpenwild.com/stat icpage/trail-signs-in-the-swiss-alps/

4.- Google Maps.

Lots of detail, but does not emphasize rail travel.

Where to go--

Early in your trip go to the Jungfrau Region:

www.myswissalps.com/be rneseoberland

www.myswissalps.com/ju ngfrauregion

This pano map gives a good overview better impression of the area, even if it lacks the precision of the other maps:

www.swissholidayco.com /Public/Assets/User/fi les/Map-of-Jungfrauregion1.jpg

Trains, scenery,. wide range of hotels/accommodations, the fancy places ( luxurious , exquiite food, expensive) will still be open. But, you can find all price points.

Don't stay at Interlaken. Choose Wengen, Mürren, grindelwald, Lauterbrunen:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/tips-about-wengen-and-the-jungfrau-region-by-kim

More later,

Slowpoke

Last modified on May 1, 2018 - 7:50 PM by Slowpoke
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Gunzel
Gunzel
10 posts
new member
May 1, 2018 - 5:57 PM

Enjoying the discussion and brings back memories of various trips!

In Australia, a railway geek, as you put it, is affectionately referred to as a "gunzel".

Originally, it was a put down to emphasise eccentricity but has evolved into a term of endearment. I guess the USA term "foamer" is similar?

I agree about staying at Interlaken. I found a lovely hotel in 2015 and some delightful local restaurants. However, it was quite clear that Interlaken was very popular with rather noisy international guests.

Paul in Australia

Peterli
Peterli
396 posts
top member
May 2, 2018 - 12:24 AM

I noticed the title of this thread yesterday, and as I am a big believer in "slow travel" I am getting caught up on all that has been posted so far. I am waiting to hear from Slowpoke about the word "foamer" ! I don't know if you ever saw the 1969 movie "If It's Tuesday, This Must be Belgium" ? That is the kind of travel I do not like. I like to, as is said, "slow down and smell the flowers".

Is this your first trip to Switzerland ? I read your "we are German" statement and also your "still skis Whistler daily" so I am debating whether you live in Germany or Canada. My guess would be the latter. If, on the other hand, you live in Germany, you are close by and so have probably been to Switzerland on numerous occasions. Since you are planning a three week holiday in Switzerland, I am wondering if you are willing to consider diversifying where you go beyond the mountains and passes in central Switzerland that seem to dominate most threads on this forum. Would you be interested in dividing up your time in the three major linguistic regions ? Perhaps distributing the days in proportion to the relative importance (%-wise) of the three languages ? If I go with the distribution percentages given on Wikipedia (see the attached document), that would leave you 13 days in German-speaking Switzerland, 5 days in the French-speaking part (Romandie), and 2 days in the Italian-speaking part (Ticino), and 1 extra for whatever might fit better.

If you are interested in spending some of your time in Romandie and the Ticino, I can give you some suggestions.

Last modified on May 2, 2018 - 12:32 AM by Peterli
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Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4485 posts
expert
May 2, 2018 - 12:44 AM in reply to Gunzel

Grüetzi Gunzel

<<"www.urbandictionary.co m/define.php?term=Foamer">>

Foamer seems pejorative. Never ran into it before.

The term that I learned is "a rail buff." Probably obsolete.

Slowpoke

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4485 posts
expert
May 2, 2018 - 12:47 AM in reply to Peterli

Bonsoir Peterli -

<<"am debating whether you live in Germany or Canada.">>

I'm guessing that our German posters have an energetic visitor from the 'States or Canada.

?

I still think that he should fly into Zürich. ;-)

Maye Genf, but that is a bit far from Germany.

Slowpoke

Last modified on May 2, 2018 - 12:51 AM by Slowpoke
rockoyster
rockoyster
3345 posts
expert
May 2, 2018 - 12:55 AM in reply to Slowpoke

I’d never heard of a “gunzel” but the the only train I’ve ever been on in in over 40 years was Sydney from Circular Key to Central. Oh and the Sydney monorail before they demolished it. Being of British heritage I am familiar with the term “anorak”.

See en.m.wikipedia.org/wik i/Railfan for “foamer”.

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