June Zermatt Montreux Wengen & Lucerne trip report

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Sharpl
Sharpl
49 posts
active member
Jul 11, 2019 - 8:06 PM

I want to extend a HUGE thank you to everyone who offered advice to the many questions that I posted planning our trip to Switzerland. In order to save time, I have ATTACHED my trip report in the exact format that I am submitting it to our local newspaper for a travel piece. I hope that is in accordance with the forum rules. You will find that I am very wordy, but I loved this trip so much and didn't want to leave out any details for others who were planning. I never could have pulled off such a smooth trip without the help of the people who man this website. A huge thanks! We traveled from Alabama June 3-13, 2019. I spent untold hours on MySwissAlps. I mean untold hours. This was only my second trip overseas. Last year I took my 18 yr old daughter to Italy for 10 days for her high school graduation and we did a tour group with some independent time. I decided this time around I wanted to plan it all myself. This was a trip for myself, my husband, and my 14 yr old daughter. It was their first trip to Europe. It was a sizable task and I was overwhelmed many times, especially with the train schedule, but with this group's help I persevered. I must say that our trip I felt was very smooth in terms of events planned and execution of the travel. The weather did not always cooperate and I definitely advise having plans A-D! I also advise to sometimes just go ahead with your original plans when the weather is not so cooperative and just cross your fingers. We took the Wengen-Mannlichen Aerial Cableway one day because I sooooooo wanted to ride on the TOP of the cable car. When do you have that opportunity in life???? We were almost completely socked in by clouds on the way up, but on the way down we had beautiful views. Other advice: do not miss Glacier 3000 under any circumstances! Wengen and Zermatt are unbelievable! All three of us ziplined together on the same "eagle" zipline at First and that was awesome!!!! I loved this trip!!!!!! Lifelong memories. I wish I could post 100 pictures!

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rockoyster
rockoyster
6751 posts
expert
Jul 12, 2019 - 4:15 AM

Great report and some super pictures - thanks so much for sharing.

You wrote "I wish I could post 100 pictures!" What's holding you back? 😉

Put 'em in a Google Photos or Flickr album and post the link. It's less laborious than attaching them individually to forum posts and also more forgiving size-wise.

I bumped the font-size (to assist my elderly eyes) for your report and added it as a PDF.

Last modified on Jul 12, 2019 - 4:21 AM by rockoyster
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Arno
Arno
13661 posts
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moderator
Jul 12, 2019 - 4:36 AM

Thanks a lot for your report Sharpl! Wordy reports are very welcome, no worries :-) Note that you can attach up to 10 images up to 1 Mb in each post, so you can add posts right here to this thread. I will move the images from your other thread here, and remove the thread without images.

Arno
Arno
13661 posts
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Jul 12, 2019 - 4:39 AM

Here are your other images.

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Slowpoke
Slowpoke
6338 posts
expert
Jul 12, 2019 - 11:59 AM in reply to Sharpl

Hi Sharpl -

It was quite enjoyable to read your trip report. It is a lot of work to prepare a document like that. However, even after almost 40 years of visiting Switzerland, your report brings back for me some of my "first time" impressions, and the enthusiasm is still there for me, even as I revisit familiar places.

And, you have a good eye for photographs. You have caught the "ambience" very well. I can recognize most locations, but, editing the photo numbers to include names couId have helped me identify a few places. Is number 180 at Gruyeres?

On every trip, I'm still amazed at how well the Swiss run their country. Of course, doing it well can take a bit more effort and cost than doing it "cheap", and it certainly can show. It is refreshing to visit a place where the only option is "cheaper."

However,

<<"Most mountaintop excursions could cost you $500 for 3 people and that is including a discount for having a Swiss travel pass from the railways.">>

I think the number is closer to $50 than $500, unless you stay over a couple of nights and eat up there.

Some of your impressions relate to your choice of hotels and places to visit. Because you did not pay cash for the hotels, the costs were less noticeable than they might otherwise be. You picked some of the better and more expensive places to stay, so some of your impressions might have been less grand, but still as good, at less expensive places. And, those better hotels tend to charge more for meals and drinks.

Your comments about meal costs reflect your choices of big cities and major tourist destinations.

<<"A typical entree in a sit down restaurant might begin at $35. Fast food meals will cost around $12-15 per person. ">>

Fast food prices are certainly greater than in USA, and double is a good approximation. Scroll down this article:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Big_Mac_Index

but your number seems a bit high to me. And, of course, you'll pay a good deal more in Manhattan than in Huntsville.

A European would be amazed at your comment about "entree" prices, bexause the "entree" is the first course, upon "entering" a meal. If you mean the prices for a main course, (Hauptgerichte, plats principaux) those are big city prices at good restaurants.

In fact, it is customary throughout Switzerland that restaurants offer at least one daily menu (Tageskarte, plat du jour, or "menu"....perhaps even more than one "menu" ) that can run around $25 CHF for a basic meal of soup or salad, spaghetti or something else inexpensive like chicken nuggets, and dessert. There can be other "menus" at higher price points, but , for the price you mentioned you can eat well with a full meal at many good restaurants. If you add alcohol, where they make their money, you can certainly run the bill up quickly.

Your comments about Grindelwald -First are valuable, but you misplaced it. It is near the Jungfrau, not near Luzern.

Hammetschwand -

<<"We ended up splitting a sandwich and some chips as the restaurants start at about $80 per person! We began our one hour hike up the mountain to where the base of the lift begins. It was an exhausting hike, but the views along the way made it worth the hike!">>

I'm glad you went to Hammetschwand...it is one of my favorite places around the lake. You do not have to take the catamaran, although it is a lot nicer than the bus, and, of course, more expensive. This thread gives more details and some pictures:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/the-hammetschwand-lift

Note that the walk from Bürgenstock to the base of the elevator takes about 20-25 minutes along the Felsenweg at an easy pace with stops for photographs, not an hour. The altitude change is about 105 meters....from 875 metrse to 980 meters....over a bit less than 1 km. No doubt that is staeadily uphill, with steps to help with the steepest parts. The trail is smooth, and I have seen wheelchairs being pushed along it. (There are trail by-passes for the stairs). The top of the lift is at about 1114 meters.

The sausage stand/restaurant at the top is actually the place to get something to eat. The prices are a slight bit higher than in a village or town, but are not the prices of the luxurious Bürgenstock resort (which you reported) , which is a destination for many very wealthy foreign travelers.

Wengen-

<<"We had an unsurpassable view of the Lauterbrunnen Valley and the surrounding Swiss Alps including three waterfalls off the opposing cliffs.">>

I beg to differ about your choice of adjectives. Many of the hotels facing the valley near the station or on the hill above offer stunning views, which can equal or surpass the views from the Victoria-Lauberhorn, which is why some charge more for a south facing view. The grander ones with history were sited to have those views when they were built. Although certainly not the only one, my current favorite, the Bellevue offers one that I like.

Why travel?

<<"Be wary of what meats you eat unless you fancy horse steaks or internal organs!">>

<<"I tended to steer clear of all meats since I had read about their use of several organs andhorse meat!">>

Organ meats are characteristic of French cuisine, which is part of Swiss cuisine. Horse is eaten routinely in Europe.

Raclette-

<<", but the whole restaurant was filled with the smell though and">>

The smell was likely from fondues. Raclette cheese is quite mild.

Obviously, a lot of people like it.

And,

<<"My husband and daughter were quite surprised to find that the pool and spa were swimsuit optional areas.">>

Different strokes.....

Slowpoke

Last modified on Jul 12, 2019 - 12:16 PM by Slowpoke
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
6338 posts
expert
Jul 12, 2019 - 1:20 PM in reply to Slowpoke

One more item to add to "Why Travel" in the above post:

<<"We huffed and puffed up the steep hill that the castle rests upon.">>

<<"We began our one hour hike up the mountain to where the base of the lift begins. It was an exhausting hike, but the views along the way made it worth the hike!">>

I have learned that -

1.- Walking is a legitimate form of public and private transportation in Switzerland, unlike the custom in the USA.

2.- In Switzerland, a level trail has an inclination of anything less than a 30 degree angle, up or down. ;-)

3.- A corollary to #2. The Swiss walk just as fast up or downhill as on a level trail. You can tell from the trail signs, which show times....and don't seem to care if the trail is level or not for a similar distance. My times match the signs fairly well for easy walks, but on the ones with notable hills, I allow a bit less than double the indicated time. Appropriate for a slowpoke, of course. ;-)

Slowpoke

Last modified on Jul 12, 2019 - 1:24 PM by Slowpoke
Sharpl
Sharpl
49 posts
active member
Jul 12, 2019 - 10:46 PM in reply to rockoyster

Well rockoyster, how about 200 photos? They are just so beautiful. I enjoyed seeing other people's photos when I planned our trip to help me choose possible excursions. Here is the link to my Google album. Hope this is correct.

photos.google.com/albu m/AF1QipNxKCW9iGcI24rZ AgKXJZa6GWmTx_mr0V46Dy rE

rockoyster
rockoyster
6751 posts
expert
Jul 12, 2019 - 11:03 PM in reply to Sharpl

200 is good but I’m afraid your link is throwing a 404 error - address not found.

Here’s a reciprocal link flic.kr/s/aHskYag4FS while you sort it out. 🤓

Last modified on Jul 12, 2019 - 11:05 PM by rockoyster
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
6338 posts
expert
Jul 12, 2019 - 11:24 PM in reply to Sharpl

Hi Sharpl -

<<"200 is good but I’m afraid your link is throwing a 404 error - address not found.>>

I'd look at 200 pictures, and more. You have a good eye.

But, same problem...404 error.

Slowpoke

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
6338 posts
expert
Jul 12, 2019 - 11:28 PM in reply to rockoyster

Super pictures of the Brusio viaduct.

Slowpoke

Sharpl
Sharpl
49 posts
active member
Jul 13, 2019 - 12:30 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Slowpoke, ha, I felt a little like my paper had been returned marked in red! I did say I was wordy, but maybe I exaggerate a bit! But, perhaps you are quite fit. I don't think you deserve the nickname Slowpoke at all! We definitely spent at least an hour if not more on the trail. Were we even on the same trail, ha? I think there is no way we came DOWN in 20 minutes. Maybe if we tripped and rolled all the way down! But, I highly recommend that side trip to the Hammetschwand Lift. This site did list 1 hr 25 min for hiking time which helps my self esteem.

www.schweizmobil.ch/en /hiking-in-switzerland/routes/rou te-0566.html

We did spend close to $500 on some of our mountain excursions when you include lunch and that was only for the activities, I was not speaking of hotels. For example, I believe it was when we traveled from Wengen to Grindelwald First that we had to pay an additional fee for our train, then around $120 for our tickets. Also, most excursions we did extra activities like the alpine coaster at Glacier 3000 or the Zip Flyer at Grindelwald First which was additional $100 plus the ticket price.

Also, it was definitely the smell of the raclette that I could not stomach. We had both fondue and the raclette on our trip. I know it is a speciality, but it was not my cup of tea! Now, the chocolate croissants and the chocolate bread were wonderful! Also, jpeg 180 was Gruyeres castle.

Thanks for actually reading my report. I am a library media specialist so I value facts and getting things right. Our trip I felt was so well planned and enjoyable due to this website.

Sharpl
Sharpl
49 posts
active member
Jul 13, 2019 - 12:35 AM
rockoyster
rockoyster
6751 posts
expert
Jul 13, 2019 - 12:40 AM in reply to Sharpl

That works! Great photos. 👏👏👏 😎

Last modified on Jul 13, 2019 - 12:43 AM by rockoyster
Sharpl
Sharpl
49 posts
active member
Jul 13, 2019 - 12:43 AM in reply to rockoyster

Rockoyster those pictures are outstanding! I now want to go to Bellinzona! Wow! Thank you for sharing.

Annika
Annika
5442 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 13, 2019 - 5:53 AM

Great pictures Shaprl! Thanks so much for sharing them and for your valuable trip report. I liked reading it and I'm sure it will be helpful to many other travelers. I'm happy to hear you enjoyed your stay, even though you had to adapt to weather circumstances a couple of times. You're absolutely right when saying one should be flexible. Great that you're planning to return next year. Let us know if you need help preparing for your next trip!

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
6338 posts
expert
Jul 13, 2019 - 12:18 PM in reply to Sharpl

Hi Sharpl-

Our purpose on this forum is to aid travelers to Switzerland. We don't want to leave a mistaken impression for them. And, since you are publishing in your local paper, as a journalist, you would likely wish for fact checking. Ithink your style of writing is well suited to an average reader who has not traveled to Switzerland, and will be read by many in your town. Even more reason for accuracy.

Thus

<<"Part 4-Sadly, we left Wengen and the Lauterbrunnen Valley and arrived in Lucerne. ............ On our first day in Lucerne, we headed to Grindelwald First.">>

As I noted before, unless you took a 2 and 1/2 hour train ride back to Grindelwald after you got to Luzern, which seems unlikely, you misplaced Grindelwald-First. It is as you so clearly describe it in a very compelling fashion, but it is near the Jungfrau. It is above the town of Grindelwald in the valley of the Black Lütschine, over the Männlichen ridge from the Lauterbrunnen Valley.

map.search.ch/?pos=646203,163808&z=16 &poi=default

Cost of the First excursion -

This site gives ticket prices:

www.jungfrau.ch/filead min/Prospekte_und_Bros chueren/Grindelwald-First_Prospekt.pdf

With the two STP's for the Adults, and your 14 year old daughter, each of the three of you would have paid 30 CHF round trip from Grindelwald to Grindelwald -First and return, and the adults 46 CHF each for the First Flyer and your daughter 40 CHF. Total, 222 CHF.

Indeed, if you add lunches at (guess) 30 CHF, you get to 312 CHF.

<<"Most mountaintop excursions could cost you $500 for 3 people and that is including a discount for having a Swiss travel pass from the railways">>

I wondered how you could spend 500 USD or CHF on that trip up to First and come out with a total "out of pocket" of $850 for your entire journey.

<<"An eleven day trip to Switzerland for 3 people for $850 out of pocket is a pretty good deal in my opinion.">> That section of your report is confusing to me. And, I'd say that it is certainly a good deal.

When I said "50" I was mistakenly thinking about only one person, and only the trip up and down. That was my error. I did not include the Flyer or such activities in my estimate, because they may not be present on all mountain excursions. For instance, the trip with STP from Vitznau or Arth-Goldau to Rigi-Kulm is free. Also, Schilthorn and Stanserhorn are free. Pilatus is discounted 50% to 36CHF per person, round trip..

On each of those mountains you can eat, but there are (if I recall correctly) no costly activities up there. (No sure if there is fee for any sort of James Bond stuff on Schilthorn.) There are some on the way up and down to Kriens.

I feel strongly that saying "Most mountaintop excursions could cost you $500 for 3...." leaves an impression that is not appropriate or accurate. Perhaps it is because the word "excursion" does not bring to mind for me the activities available on some but far from all mountain tops. We may be using the word differently.

Hammetschwand:

<<"We began our one hour hike up the mountain to where the base of the lift begins. It was an exhausting hike, but the views along the way made it worth the hike! We boarded the tunnel elevator and zoomed up to the top of the lift.">>

Since the part of the Felsenweg between Bürgenstock ( actually, the Restaurant 1879 on the road to Honegg) and the elevator (and then the elevator ride) is by far the easiest and, arguably, the most scenic way to get up to Hammetschwand, it is important to have the correct timing. I have done that walk (in both directions about 8 or 10 times).

You gave this link to Switzerland Mobility:

www.schweizmobil.ch/en /hiking-in-switzerland/routes/rou te-0566.html

I'll add a topo map.

map.geo.admin.ch/?topic=swisstopo&lang=e n&bgLayer=ch.swisstopo .pixelkarte-farbe&catalogNodes=139 2,1538,1396,1430,1436& layers=ch.swisstopo.sw isstlm3d-wanderwege&E=2672586.7 3&N=1205443.11&zoom=7

The figure that you quote, and that is stated in the link to Switzerland mobility is the time for a complete round trip from Bürgenstock to the foot of the elevator, onward to Känzeli ( which is a more difficult mountain trail), then to Honegg, and a return along a trail parallel to and just above the road from Honegg to Bürgenstock. It does not include the elevator ride.

The altitude profile given in the Switzerland mobility link shows a hike a bit over 5 km long. In fact, if I were to undertake that walk, it would almost certainly take me ( as a slowpoke,with no Swiss genes ) well over the stated time.

The walk to the foot of the elevator is about 1 to 1 1/4 km. Roughly, 2/3 to 3/4 of a mile. 20 or 30 minutes is correct for that section if you take it easy. 15 if you are fit and walk quickly.

I have attached a photograph taken from the Rigi, with marks to show the location of the beginning of the trail near the resort ( an old picture; the resort has expanded) , the foot of the elevator, and the top of the elevat0r. The trail continues along the side of the cliff to the left of the foot of the elevator.

I added a few (which are also in the link I provided earlier) to show more about Hammetschwand. I liked your image 576, which is a very nice telephoto shot looking down from the elevator platform at Hammetschwand.

If you took an hour, you took some other route, in my opinion. If you come up the back side from Trogen, and do not use the elevator, it would be a steep climb. And, the trail signs on top show 1 hr 10 minutes back to Bürgenstock, and 35-45 minutes to Honegg, going down the back side.

One of the nicest things about walking or hiking - in fact travel in general - in Switzerland is the superb maps and the long list of special trails presented on on Switzerland mobility.

www.schweizmobil.ch/en /wanderland/wanderland .html

And, the wealth of data on almost any subject in a variety of media on the internet is a rich resource.

Used thoughtfully, they can give really accurate guidance.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Jul 13, 2019 - 1:13 PM by Slowpoke
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Arno
Arno
13661 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 13, 2019 - 12:50 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Hi Slowpoke,

I agree on the purpose of the forum/MySwissAlps, but you can rest assured that it's not our job to fact check each trip report or post submitted here :-) Unless specifically asked of course, then we may or may not spend time on that. Forum readers need to be aware that they are reading personal perspectives, not facts. Apart from that, feedback and tips are always very welcome of course.

Note that the trip to First is free for 14 year olds if the parents have a Swiss Travel Pass and Swiss Family Card. That's a fact ;-)

The walk from Bürgenstock to the lift indeed takes less than 30 minutes on a pretty easy path. But I guess one can always think of a longer variant.

Last modified on Jul 13, 2019 - 12:58 PM by Arno
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
6338 posts
expert
Jul 13, 2019 - 1:05 PM in reply to Arno

Hi Arno-

<<"

Note that the trip to First is free for 14 year olds if the parents have a Swiss Travel Pass and Swiss Family Card. That's a fact ;-)">>

Thanks for the fact-checking, even though I did not ask for it, I appreciate it. ;-)

<<"Forum readers need to be aware that they are reading personal perspectives, not facts. ">>

My concern was primarily for her readers in the USA, who probably expect facts when they read their newspaper, and secondarily for the Forum readers. Although, I do note that Sharpl apparently relied on My Swiss Alps for her trip planning, presumably including the Fora, as well as the data pages.

I felt strongly enough about Hammetschwand to write in detail, because it is one of my favorite places that is easy to get to, and because it is such a pleasant change from the usual Luzern things, and is not typically crowded.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Jul 13, 2019 - 1:10 PM by Slowpoke
Arno
Arno
13661 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 13, 2019 - 1:33 PM in reply to Slowpoke

You're most welcome Slowpoke ;-)

Hammetschwand is great indeed. We recently went there for the first time. I assume, but don't know for sure, that things are getting more crowded up there since Bürgenstock has been revamped with the luxurious hotels. The frequent direct boats from Lucerne certainly make it easy to do a day trip. The funicular and lift prices made it less easy :-( I think they adapted them to the new hotels! A return on the funicular costs CHF 50 without a pass... But then again, a pass is essential for anyone spending more than 24 hours in Switzerland.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
6338 posts
expert
Jul 13, 2019 - 1:59 PM in reply to Arno

Hi Arno -

<<"Hammetschwand is great indeed. We recently went there for the first time. I assume, but don't know for sure, that things are getting more crowded up there since Bürgenstock has been revamped with the luxurious hotels. ">>

I think it is. And, they have expanded the seating and added a roof over tables that used to have umbrellas. A bit less rustic; a change for the worse in my opinion. Just like the viewing platform at Männlichen Gipfel. ;-(

<<"The frequent direct boats from Lucerne certainly make it easy to do a day trip. The funicular and lift prices made it less easy :-( I think they adapted them to the new hotels!">>

With a car, I have parked at the parking place near Trogen and walked along the road to the Restaurant 1879, preferring the Felsenweg over the climb up from Trogen. Last time, now that the construction is pretty well finished, I parked in the garage under the new hotels, and walked to the Felsenweg. Arthritis is decreasing my interest in more difficult walks when easier ones are available.

Bus #321 from Stanstad Bahnhof offers a less scenic but much cheaper route to the start of the Felsenweg, at bus stop Bürgenstock, Zentrum. Still an easy day trip, and the train ride is pleasant.

map.search.ch/?pos=670188,204924&z=12 8&poi=haltestelle,park ing&poi_id=47525f8bfce 3df03fb7c-bus

Slowpoke

Last modified on Jul 13, 2019 - 2:50 PM by Slowpoke

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