Camping through Switzerland trip report

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Debra
Debra
153 posts
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Aug 8, 2018 - 1:13 PM

I won’t detail the days of my camping trip so far, as I still have a week to go, but will hit the highlights that would appeal to most of the readers here.

After leaving chamonix after walking an uncompleted portion of the tour du Mont Blanc from last year, Camping, I camped at Camping Jungfrau in lauterbrunnen for 4 nights hitting some of the trails I didn’t do last year and revisiting others.

The Mountain View trail would be suitable for all i think, there was a grandmother with her 4 year old or so walking this beautiful trail. Generally I combined a couple 2.5 to 3 hour trails to walk a total of 6 to 8 hours a day at each location.

From lauterbrunnen I went to zermatt for 4 nights and hiked the same amount of time per day, covering most of the area around the Matterhorn. The campground in zermatt was basic but awesome for 16 chf per night and even showers and charging ports in the bathrooms.

Next to engelberg where I stayed at eienwaldli for 4 nights. I walked to meiringen one day and over surenenpass another and a few day hikes a third night. The fourth day I took a “zero” day and checked out Luzern until it started to pour then went back to engelberg; I will break camp tomorrow and stay at Camping international lido in Luzern which looks amazing starting tomorrow.

Debra
Debra
153 posts
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Aug 8, 2018 - 1:18 PM in reply to Debra

Oh a few notes; “fresh milch” will be served warm in a bowl at mountain inns, there are cows everywhere at elevation so watch where you step, and the occasional “sentinel cow” may greet you at the gate waiting to be petted and lick you with their ginormous tongue haha I guess they are lonely. And never walk past an inn if it looks inviting you will be surprised at the quality of the home spun food and hospitality!

Debra
Debra
153 posts
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Aug 8, 2018 - 1:49 PM in reply to Debra

One more thing, “zero” days mean the opportunity to eat lots of protein aka food! That you can’t eat on hiking days. Sweet! Only strange looks from restaurant waiters over the food portions!

Lucas
Lucas
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Aug 8, 2018 - 2:37 PM in reply to Debra

Thanks for the report of your trip so far Debra!

Great to get some reviews on camping in Switzerland as it isn't too common on the forum!

Debra
Debra
153 posts
active member
Aug 8, 2018 - 3:22 PM in reply to Debra

So here’s a little more info on the campgrounds I’ve mentioned; Camping Jungfrau in Lauterbrunnen, nice place, clean bathrooms, great desk staff who will take lots of time talking trail with you; however there isn’t a flat pitch to be had, at least in the tent area. I didn’t venture into the “camper van”area. Camping Zermatt sometimes referred to as Camping Matterhorn, also no flat pitches but for the price you can’t complain! Kept super clean too! And the location is steps from a grocery store and the train. Sweet! Cash only here. Eienwaldli in engelberg is quite the resort, you’ll be camping next to vans and campers even though the area says “for tents only”. I did somehow manage a flat pitch here. Not really any shade. They charge 1 chf for a 4 minute shower but will loan a bike for the day for free. (?) and charge 4.50 chf for about 3 ounces of coffee, my one indulgence on a zero day to drink coffee. The waitress didn’t know English and when I asked for coffee I assumed she knew that was a starter as I longingly looked at the tables of bread and jams in front of families, which I didn’t know how to ask for. There will be no more of that! The bathrooms here are the most extravagant I e ever seen, music piped in with glass photos of nature scenes situated above the private privvies and glass doors on the showers with huge shower heads; these of course are in private rooms. These nicer facilities are in the camper van area, while the teantareaa still has nice ones, just not AS nice, which is kind of backwards as I thought he large campers should have their own privvies and showers but whatever. Huge basement drying room in the laundry area. If engelberg wasn’t so out of the way I’d stay longer but ive exhausted my hiking desires in this area so it’s time to move on. Literally weather dependent. I’d thought if the engadine but it’s too cold for my camping pleasure there, so on the Luzern and I can take the train to other areas if the weather turns bad locally.

Debra
Debra
153 posts
active member
Aug 10, 2018 - 3:53 PM

Rain in Luzern forecast all day so I followed the sun to Lugano to visit Monte San Salvatore which I really enjoyed on a lovely cloudy day. I have to say I wouldn’t want to spend more than a day here too busy of a town. What the draw is I wouldn’t know. The on to bellinzona to visit castles. Or so I thought. Google maps couldn’t seem to find ithe tourist office even though I should have been standing in front of it I never found it. So I had something to eat that was open at 4 pm. Good but not good enough for he price. Would have been better off at the bistro at the train station where i got a great smoothie. Bellinzona is a very pretty town much nicer than Lugano but I only walked the cobbled streets within 15 minutes or so from the train. Could see a castle close by but couldn’t figure out how to get to it. By the way, why are all the drinks (non alcoholic and alcoholic included) so blasted small in Switzerland? Don’t y’all get thirsty here?

Last modified on Aug 10, 2018 - 3:56 PM by Debra
Lucas
Lucas
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Aug 10, 2018 - 6:30 PM in reply to Debra

Hi Debra,

Not a fan of Lugano eh? I loved the food and italian culture. I was there at the end of March so it wasn't too busy with people.

You must have been quite close the the largest of the castles in Bellinzona....I think it took me about 10-15 minutes to walk there from the train station.

I seem to recall just walking to the castle once we saw it and then walking around the perimeter until we found an entrance. Not super obvious on 3 sides of the castle though.

I find the beers pretty big in Switzerland but the coffees, I agree - too small! :)

Good luck on the rest of your trip.

Debra
Debra
153 posts
active member
Aug 10, 2018 - 7:51 PM

I forgot to mention yesterday I switched camps to Camping International Lido in Luzern. This is in an excellent location, 5 minutes walk to boat, bus, or train, take your pick. After setting up camp I took the train to walk part of the Swiss Path from Sisikon to Flüelen, then took the boat all the way back to Luzern, it stopped like I said just minutes from camp! Can’t beat that! I liked walking the Swiss path but that portion had a lot of walking alongside very busy roads and sometimes trains. But I really was excited to see Tell’s chapel, ever since reading the story of William Tell leaping from the boat, to the (presumed) site where the chapel sits, it was something I had been wanting to visit. Not quite the Gettysburg experience but a really cool place to be.

Debra
Debra
153 posts
active member
Aug 10, 2018 - 7:56 PM in reply to Lucas

I don’t know why but the times I’ve ordered a beer at a restaurant here I get a little bitty 3dl (however much that is, seems like maybe 8 ounces if that) once it was even 2dl; so I pretty much quit trying to order beer unless it is in a bottle but even then some of the bottles are small.

Actually on the smoothie I ended up getting a second because it was like 10 ounces of deliciousness, just not enough. What. Is. The. Deal.

Last modified on Aug 10, 2018 - 7:59 PM by Debra
Lucas
Lucas
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Aug 11, 2018 - 8:07 AM in reply to Debra

Haha. :) I think us North Americans are used to everything being bigger! Beers, coffee, cars, the country. Must be the mindset of the big open spaces.

Debra
Debra
153 posts
active member
Aug 11, 2018 - 2:30 PM

So today I wanted to walk the stoos ridgeline trail which was on my list last year but I never made it out of lauterbrunnen! Great walk not scary or anything very easy just some ups and downs, but there were hoards if people! Actually more people than cows if you can believe it! On the way back I impulsively stopped at brunnen schiffstation stop as the area looked so beautiful the walk along the lake was so wonderful! Thought I’d get something to eat but none of the lakeside or any restaurants close to t looked inviting even with outdoor seating; seems everyone was smoking. So this was a short relaxing day. I highly recommend checking it out and for those who do t hike just take the fronalpstock chair list up and enjoy the view without any work!

Lucas
Lucas
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Aug 12, 2018 - 7:38 AM in reply to Debra

Stoos is indeed a nice area for a hike! If you get a chance up uploading pictures when you get home it would be great to see! :)

PS they must be under 1mb to upload here.

Arno
Arno
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Aug 12, 2018 - 10:52 AM

Thanks Debra for sharing your experiences with us! We're working on adding more details on the Ticino area to the website. That will also include a map and route description to the castles in Bellinzona. For the next time perhaps :)

I you want a descent size beer then order a 5 dl straight away. I think that approaches the North American standards :) As for coffee: the further south you go in Europe, the smaller the cups, and the stronger the coffee. And stricter "rules" I think, like no cappuccino after 12 AM. I don't stick to those rules anyway.

Last modified on Aug 12, 2018 - 10:53 AM by Arno
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5259 posts
expert
Aug 12, 2018 - 3:26 PM in reply to Debra

Hi Debra-

Sounds like you have really learned your way around in Switzerland. There aren't a lot of people on this forum who know where Stoos is. ;-)

Are you familiar wit this website?

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

It shows a lot of good trails.

In Switzerland, a regular glass of draft beer - "eine Stange" is 300 ml. That is 10.14 fluid ounces. A large beer ("ein grosses Bier") is 500 ml (16.9 fluid ounces). I'm not sure what the standard size is in Switzerland for bottled or canned beer.

Here in the USA, we expect a standard bottle or can of beer or carbonated drink to be 12 fluid ounces. That is 355 ml. The 300 ml. Swiss "Stange" at 10.14 fl. ounces is 86.7 percent of the 12 ounce US standard. It is not "8 ounces if that."

Draft beer sizes here in the USA seem to vary, so I'm not sure what the standard is...if,any.

The Belgian ale and Czech beer in bottles that I have are 11.2 ounces ( 330 ml.)

Two "large" cans of Austrian beer in the refrigerator are each 500 ml, 16.91 fluid ounces , or just over a pint.

If I ask for "ein Bier" in Switzerland, I usually get a question - "klein oder gross?" Small or large? Or some similar question.

If you follow Arno's suggestion, you ask for "ein grosses Bier."

The area couple of other thoughts to consider:

If you travel in a foreign country, you can not expect everyone to speak English. It is courteous and much appreciated to learn a few useful phrases in the local language. Or, to look up a translation if you have a smart phone. If you expect to order beer, the phrase would be useful to know ahead of time. If you were a German-speaking tourist in the USA, would you expect the wait staff in the restaurant to speak German?

From a European perspective, and from my own personal perspective, a lot of things in the USA are too large. For example, SUV's and pick-up trucks. It is a joke, but a bad joke that we can say "If a little is good, more is better, and too much is not enough.". So, maybe they are not too small in Switzerland, rather, too large in the USA.

Slowpoke

Debra
Debra
153 posts
active member
Aug 12, 2018 - 4:33 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Thanks for your thoughts slowpoke. I was going to post more on my trip but it is meaningless if it is not helpful to others and as a private person I don’t consider my personal experience es open to criticism so I’ll leave it at that. But I did spend an entire day on Rigi today walking connecting paths and it was great. Boat from vitznau to campground. Great day.

Last modified on Aug 12, 2018 - 5:26 PM by Debra
Arno
Arno
11571 posts
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Aug 13, 2018 - 7:28 AM

Hi Debra, I'm not sure if that's what Slowpoke meant, but I find your posts interesting and I am sure others do too. The purpose of the forum is to ask questions and to share tips and experiences. All experiences are helpful to many future travelers. So please keep them coming.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5259 posts
expert
Aug 13, 2018 - 8:31 AM in reply to Debra

Hi Debra-

I must apologize that my words created the wrong impression.

As I look back at them, I realize that they could have been taken a criticism. That was not intended. My intent was to respond to your comments about some things that you found troubling, and offer some suggestions about how to make it easier or clearer to deal with them the next time.

Your detailed comment about specific camping sites, and your personal experiences are quite valuable. There are periodic queries on the Forum about camping in Switzerland, and much of the available information lacks the detail that you have provided. Your comments will be particularly valuable because of the details, and the thread will be a unique resource for future campers.

I noted your comments about level or non-level places to pitch your tent with special interest. It's been some time since I 've been sleeping in a tent at a campsite, but I still remember that issue from my days hiking and camping with the Boy Scouts. On a site that was not level, I would wake up during the night to find that I had slid partway out of my tent.

Please keep your posts them coming.

Slowpoke

Debra
Debra
153 posts
active member
Aug 13, 2018 - 9:23 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Apology accepted slowpoke! Of course I knew it would be somewhat of a challenge not speaking the native language in which ever canton I was in, I just found it amusing that waitstaff automatically assumed a petite person wanted petite sized beverage. Oh that is so not the case especially after many long hours of mountain walking!

To further comment on the campgrounds I’ve stayed at, Camping Jungfrau is a good 15 minute walk uphill mostly from the train so keep that in mind if you have a lot of gear to haul. And it is always damp in the mornings, even last year I’d wake up with a soaking wet tent.

Camping zermatt has no hair dryer in the bathroom and unless it rains is blissfully dry.

Eienwaldli is nice but so inconvenient unless you want to just go up the local lifts, the bus comes only once an hour and stops running at 17:09 from the train. About a 25 minute walk from the train otherwise. Another consideration if you arrive when the bus driver is taking lunch as nothing runs between 12:09 and 14:09., if you have gear to haul you won’t be happy as it’s uphill to he camp. I found out the hard way. Also you’ll find lots of dew on your tent in the morning.

By far the most convenient, if not crowded, is the Lido International. Easy travel to wherever you want to go. Great place. No dew.

Last modified on Aug 13, 2018 - 9:24 AM by Debra
Debra
Debra
153 posts
active member
Aug 13, 2018 - 9:32 AM

I also wanted to mention having the Swiss travel pass (flex for me this time as I was in Switzerland more than 15 days) was really the best way to go; it may not have saved me money, I didn’t stress out over how much I saved or not, the freedom to get off the bus or train whilst traveling and saw an interesting town and change plans on a moments notice was invaluable to me and exceeded any extra cost the pass might have been, but who knows maybe it did save money. I only bought train fare from zermatt to Randa when I walked up to the suspension bridge and the fare back

Lucas
Lucas
9883 posts
expert &
moderator
Aug 13, 2018 - 9:37 AM in reply to Debra

Oh how was the suspension bridge and the hike there from Randa? Impressive bridge worth the hike?

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