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Mid November 2018 Switzerland trip report


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Maverick
Maverick
27 posts
active member
Nov 27, 2018 - 7:22 PM

I am glad to post in the trip report section finally because I really enjoyed my first trip to Switzerland and would love to share my experience. It would have not been such a nice experience if it was not for good planning, which was impossible for me if I had never come across your amazing website. I am especially thankful to Lucas and Slowpoke for expert advice, opinions and offering perspective. I was able to plan the trip in detail in light of key information on your website that helped me refine it. I even found myself going back to MySwissAlps at times during my trip for some ‘to the point’ suggestions in ‘What to do’ section. Truly guys, I think that the tourism industry in Switzerland should give the moderators and experts some kind of award because you don’t find such up to date information and interactive discussion forum anywhere else. I, for one have recommended it all my friends who share my opinion for the exclusive work and efforts placed in the website design, moderation and offering advice-that’s gold.

I was going in November and everyone who heard about it took time to explain how it is the absolute worst time to visit Switzerland as cable cars are closed, weather is bad and resorts are mostly closed. Imagine getting a letter from the landlady of the chalet you booked that ‘do think about not coming in November, it’s the worst month to visit Switzerland’... I could not find a single November trip report on MySwissAlps and other travelling forums were no help either. Bad weather was something I could not plan around and I was very disheartened given the expenses I was going to make. It was by far the most expensive trip that I had planned but it was also the most extensive.

I have to say though, 9-17 November were actually good dates. I had excellent weather save one day of rain in Geneva and excellent views at mountain tops owing to bright sunny days. I did not meet huge crowds and lines for tickets, especially in boats and trains and although some cable cars were closed, there were several options to choose from. The one thing that affected us though, was limited boat schedules but even that could be managed with careful planning of your day. Aside from the autumn colors, I did come across lush green clearings and valleys. A few areas had closed restaurants and tourist centers e.g. Wengen, but then again life was abuzz above and below it. Our travelling was covered by the 8 days Swiss Travel Pass we printed before boarding and it was the best choice of rail pass based on the amount of travelling we did.

Following is a brief trip summary:

Day 1:

We arrived at Geneva airport in the morning, picked up Traveler’s Wifi. It took us some time to figure out bus routes, that was some bumpy start but then it all fell into place. We had a nice meal at a lovely restaurant near Cornavin. Our plan initially was to take the Golden Pass route to Interlaken OST, but it was getting late and we decided to take the train via Bern to Interlaken OST (shorter route) instead. We had a short stop at coop for breakfast supplies at Interlaken OST before we reached Wilderswill, where we had a 10 min walk to our lovely little chalet that was well equipped , simple and comfy!

Day 2:

We woke up to a beautiful morning in Wilderswill, I think Wilderswill is underrated, we found it very lovely and peaceful. Schilthorn was the first thing in our minds. We took the train at 7.40 to Lauterbrunnen, took a bus to Stechelberg and got on a cable car to Murren, changed cable car to Schilthorn. Nothing is complicated, you just have to lift your head to see clear directions. You step out of one cable car and the second is waiting already. We spent some time on the viewing platform, there was just one another couple with their dogs and it was peaceful. We made way to Piz Gloria as a group of tourist arrived. We enjoyed fries and chocolate milk and before it got boring, we entered the 007 museum and took the very next Cable car to Birg. Did the ‘not to miss’ thrill walk, not scary at all and had spectacular views of Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. I still don’t know what the sky walk is. We took the cable car to Murren and bought some chocolates and souvenirs. There were so many paragliders up in the air. We started our downwards hike from Murren to Grimmelwald. We enjoyed every bit of it with lovely views and favorable weather. It’s a very easy hike and we took our time to take in the scenery and relax. As we arrived Grimmelwald, we saw farmers stacking their wood. We met ponies, cows and proud cats along the way. We visited the honesty shop and took a brief stroll. We then took the cable car to Stechelberg and then took the bus to lauterbrunnen. We went on the train to Wengen just to enjoy the scenic ride that someone recommended as the ‘most scenic train ride in europe’. We saw what he was talking about but maybe because of the construction work that was going on, we crossed a long tunnel. We found out that the restaurant that we were seeking in Wengen is closed in November, so we went back to wilderswill and settled for alp cheese and bread.

Day 3:

We skipped our original plan of hiking from Grutchalp to Murren and decided to explore Wengen and Lauterbrunnen (Staubach fall). Most of the tourists were heading for the Jungfraujoch as there was clear weather. We decided to go to Interlaken OST, had a nice brunch and started our scenic train ride along the golden pass route which we really enjoyed. We had a nice distinct view of Mt. Niesen. The train ride offered good relaxation to shake off the weariness from travelling and a chance to rest our feet. So with coffee, we couldn’t help but get enchanted with the views…wow, especially as we were crossing Zweisimmen and Gstaad. We took fast connections back to wilderswill. Looking back now, we could have made better and more exciting plans, but for us at that time….we sought a less demanding slow day.

Day 4:

We checked out in the morning and went to Interlaken. We stored our luggage in lockers and took the train to Bern. We strolled in the city, were amazed by the whimsical zytglogge and explored Kramgasse a bit and I must say..For me Bern gives you the feel of the Switzerland that comes to your mind when you think of their banks and business. It was busy and vibrant. We shopped for some souvenirs and had a really nice lunch before we headed for Spiez to catch the boat to Thun. We did not have many boat options but we were glad we did it. For the boat ride we took a taxi from the train station in Spiez to the boat station as no public transport was available at this time of the year. The boat ride gave us exquisite views and we really enjoyed it. 2nd class STP with not a very large number of people was just ok for us. From Thun, we took a train to Interlaken OST, picked up our luggage and moved to Montreux. We arrived around 10.30 pm to Montreux and were delighted as people were up and about. A lovely dinner with amazing food in Montreux ended the day for us.

Day 5:

We had a lazy morning as from our terrace of the lake view room, we watched the sunrise over Lake Geneva with freshly brewed coffee. We took the train to Geneva where I had few official meetings. We went to see the broken chair and UN headquarters before heading towards Jet deu, it was raining and cold. We came back to Montreux, watched the sunset along the promenade. We re-decided on our earlier plans to attend a party in Geneva and had an early night. As the morning meetings were extended, I missed the chance to go to Rochers de Naye or at least Chitton de Chillon. But I know if I ever come back to Switzerland, I will spend more time in Montreux. The boat schedule on Lake Geneva was very limited, only trips were from Laussane to Evian and a few more. I had no time to actually make a trip.

Day 6:

We checked our very early and took the train to Zermatt, where we stored our luggage in locker room, it was a very nice train ride with lovely views, and we really enjoyed every bit of it. Zermatt is so picturesque. We went to klein matterhorn first and spent quite some time on the viewing platform. We had clear views but it was very cold indeed. We loved the gondola and the cable car ride as it was not crowded. Little girls with their mommies were going up with their little pairs of skis..lovely! We took the train to Gornegrat next and yes, it is a very scenic route. The sun was bright atop and we really enjoyed the snow. We took the train to Lucerne, for some reason that day the train at Bern was delayed so we had another connection; we had really crowded trains that day but nothing inconvenient. We checked into our hotel near the lion monument, found an ok place for dinner nearby and called it a night.

Day 7:

It was indeed the loveliest day of our trip, we took a bus to kriens and then gondola to Fräkmüntegg, changed into a cable car to mount Pilatus. It was a really nice weather..People were basking in the sun and we also enjoyed a lot up there. We took the Cogwheel train to Alpnachstad –steepest with a gradient of 48 degrees and with phenomenal views. There was no boat from Alpnachstad to Lucerne (limited schedule in November), so our golden round trip changed into a silver one. I want to mention specifically that Alpnachstad was breathtakingly lovely. It was surreal and we had the best trip photos at the spot. Few human beings and an abundance of ducks and swans with natural beauty we had never seen before. We grabbed quick lunch at Lucerne train station and immediately went to Stanserhorn, lovely views and an excellent decision. Stanserhorn train and cabrio was sooo amazing. The views of lush green landscapes, hills and scattered chalets were so enchanting. Stanserhorn at the top had more locals and few tourists. We relaxed well and then came back to Lucerne. Crossed the chapel bridge, had roasted chestnuts and walked through the old city and visited many shops, did quite a bit of shopping and returned to our hotel.

Day 8:

A majestic round trip was the highlight of the day. We took the boat to vitznau and train uphill from Vitznau to Rigi kaltbad. We spent some time there and had a ride on a horse drawn carriage through rigi kaltbad. We took the train to the top of Rigi next. It was nice and good. We took the train from Rigi kulm to Arth-Goldau and then to Lucerne. We decided to travel to Geneva and book a hotel there on the same night. It was because we came to know of the construction work in Lucerne train station and it was very long connections the next day. We thanked ourselves for this decision later on. Although it took the opportunity for us to actually visit the city of Lucerne and cost us double hotel bookings but at the same time, it saved us from a long stressful journey next day as both Lucerne and Montreux train routes were undergoing construction and with all the luggage, it was not a good idea to travel intercity when you had a long flight waiting ahead on the same day. We reached a nice hotel in Geneva and had a restful night.

Day 9:

So our last day Geneva started with a city walk to Mont Blanc Bridge and then the lakeside promenade. We went to Bains des paquis and had a mini train sightseeing ride. We had really nice lunch and shopped around. We checked out late (were allowed due to membership with hotel chain) and headed to the airport. The flight was smooth, connection easy and the day I reached home, I had 2 hours to rest before joining office.

I have to say that although I visited other parts of Europe before, but Switzerland left me mesmerized. I am still in a bubble of joy and I have dreams to visit the place again specially for the parts I missed like Brienz rothorn and Griesbach waterfalls, Schynige Platte and Grindelwald to First , Wengen to Manlichen and Engelberg. Mount Titlis and Olten…Zug, Chur and Ticino region, Mont Blanc and Chamonix , Vevey and lausanne! We could have filled our days more but..it just felt right to not run to next destinations always and rather take more time to actually live one experience at a time.

Switzerland is amazing, the people are great, nice gestures, often they offered us to take a picture of me and hubby together, when we were taking selfies…hotel receptionist were way helpful and the landlady in wilderswill chalet was so genuinely nice….people offered to help with luggage while getting on train, no one pestered you with small talk and locals were so refined! We loved the whole trip and hope to visit again someday! Thanks for reading my long report and thanks once again for this website that made my dream to visit Switzerland come true in such a nice way.

Last modified on Nov 28, 2018 - 4:42 PM by Lucas
Lucas
Lucas
10495 posts
top member
Nov 28, 2018 - 8:40 AM in reply to Maverick

Hi Maverick and thanks for your kind words!

Glad to hear you lucked out with weather on your November trip. :) It just goes to show you can get good weather any time of year - though it sounds like you had some luck on your side. Indeed your good planning helped you make the most of some limitations on mountain and boat trips at this time of year.

Safe travels and hope you can get back soon (and hopefully don't need to be at work 2 hours after arriving home next time)!

Micalj
Micalj
80 posts
active member
Nov 28, 2018 - 2:37 PM in reply to Maverick

Maverick,

Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with the forum readers. It is indeed a great place to learn the how, what, when, why and where's of Switzerland. I always learn something new from trip reports such as yours. Stanserhorn will be added to our Swiss travel list, and yes, we found the Brienz Rothorn steam train trip quite lovely on our last trip - a bit of nostalgia with incredible views. Nicely done report.

Mike J

jatinsmehta
jatinsmehta
114 posts
active member
Nov 30, 2018 - 4:37 AM

Maverick :

Lovely & fantastic trip report.

Can you please tell me about lockers/ luggage storage at interlaken.

1)On which platform can it be found ?

2) Are they self guided or manned ?

3) What are the charges ? accepting only coins?

Thanks

Lucas
Lucas
10495 posts
top member
Nov 30, 2018 - 4:13 PM in reply to jatinsmehta

Hi jatinsmehta,

You can find details on lockers and station maps on the Swiss railways website. Find a link there under more on other websites on our luggage page here: www.myswissalps.com/tr ain/practical/luggage

Coins only if you use the lockers.

maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
701 posts
top member
Nov 30, 2018 - 11:56 PM

Thank you for your interesting and helpful report, Maverick. So glad the trip worked out so well for you despite November not being the best month. Your research before travelling allowed you to make the most of what was available. I agree it is more enjoyable if you don't try to rush around and cram too much into a day. Relaxing to watch a sunset or sunrise is an enjoyable experience in such beautiful surroundings. I hope you get the chance to return when some of the things you couldn't do are available for you. I am told September is an excellent month and was our plan for this year - hopefully next year. July and August in our experience are very busy and the weather can be very hot at times and also stormy! Though I must say watching lightning displays over the mountains can be spectacular too!

Best wishes, Maggie

Maverick
Maverick
27 posts
active member
Dec 1, 2018 - 6:51 PM in reply to maggiehorswell

Thanks Maggie for your kind words!

yes , we were contemplating a second visit in early September. I think it would be peaceful, less crowded and more pleasant in terms of weather.

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